We started our trip on a Thursday from Hilo International Airport. We saw friends at the airport who were headed to Boston. I asked my friend’s teenage son to take our picture and that was a good move. He ended up taking 59 pictures of us so I am sure that we will be happy with at least one!
We met one more group member at Honolulu International Aiport. Since we were traveling internationally, we qualified for Duty Free shopping.
Not that we wanted to shop, but that allowed us to qualify for the free tasting in their liquor section! We had a taste of Balvenie and Jack Daniels before boarding our flight and our upcoming days of eating and drinking our way in Hokkaido.
We were lucky that we all had enough miles to upgrade our seats to the business class cabin. (FYI: One of the benefits I appreciate about business class travel is that the weight limit for luggage on Hawaiian is 70 pounds rather than the typical 50 pounds!)
We celebrated with some bubbly as we prepped our seats for our comfortable flight.
We enjoyed our time with snacks and movies. Keala and Seiko, our flight attendants gave us tips for an oyster izakaya and for a glass-blowing place in Otaru. If you are planning a trip to Hokkaido, check out Keala’s Instagram feed on @holoholohokkaido see what he suggests for Hokkaido visits.
Right after getting off the plane and making it through customs, we got some Ukon no Chikara (tumeric) drinks to help prep our livers and we met up with our driver who took us straight to Tonkatsu Tamafuji where we had dinner with our friend, the owner. It is much easier to get a seat at this restaurant than the one in Honolulu!
We had oyster, shrimp, tonkatsu, soup, and so much food–oh and beer and sake. We also bought the eggplant and gobo tsukemono that they serve in the restaurant.
After dinner we drove to the Keio Plaza Sapporo which was about one hour away, checked in, dropped off our bags, and caught a cab to Azumasi Oysters and Booze bar (recommended by Seiko and Keala) where we met the owner, Ryuta. I was too full to eat anything but we had a nightcap there but at midnight, I hit the wall and had to go back to the hotel and get to bed. Living Hilo Style in Sapporo!