Hokkaido help in October

Old Jul 25th, 2012, 02:12 PM
  #21  
 
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Thanks, HT, for the trip report. It sounds like you two had a fantastic time! But it seems to rain a lot in Oct in Hokkaido. So, read in the report that you're good at predicting the weather. For this October, would you mind looking to your crystal ball and let us know whether we should go the week of Oct 8th or Oct 22nd? I have a conference in Sapporo the week of Oct 15th. I think probably Oct 8th is better; otherwise the leaves will have disppeared if too late in Oct?

We probably have about 5 to 7 days total to go around on our own, could you please narrow down the places in Hokkaido that you highly recommend. How unique is Hokkaido? Heard that it's more like the American West. Since the Japanese yen is so strong now, I'm wondering if it's really worth blowing so much money to sightsee Hokkaido, or we should go somewhere else that's more uniquely Japanese? (Places I've been to in Japan: Tokyo, Hakone, Kyoto, Nara, Fukuoka.)

Your advice is much appreciated!
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Old Jul 26th, 2012, 09:45 AM
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Yes the 8th will be a better time for koyo viewing. This year should be close to more normal viewing times and not late as has been the case the past two years. Yes is there is some rain in Hokkaido in Oct but not enough to deter you in any way. All that said, I had predicted earlier this year that Japan would have a busy typhoon season as warm water currents are southeast and west of Japan drawing tropical systems in the area towards them. The normal steering mechanisms will be disrupted occasionally by these ocean conditions drawing tropical systems closer and at times through Japan towards Korea. In normal and abnormal years Hokkaido is usually spared the tropical stormy weather.....usually being the key word here.

Hokkaido is very unique and worth the expense imho although lodging and foodstuffs especially farm products are cheaper than in the big cities you have been to. You will definitely see a different Japan than you have seen so far. There are no cultural spots or castles, temples and such as the Japanese have only really started to populate the island about 150 years or so ago. Yes there are parts of Hokkaido around Daisetzusan that remind me of the western US but that is a good thing. There are also parts of the landscape and scenery that took me back to Alaska and the sheer natural beauty of the Shiretoko Peninsula is not to be missed. The ice cream on Hokkaido is also not to be missed

If you don't want to incur the added cost of a rent a car you can get around quite easily by train and JR Hokkaido does offer a couple of special passes for multi day usage but the car will open up the more remote places that the rail lines do not get close to. All I can say is that I am planning a return trip sooner than later this time taking a friend to show them the natural beauty of Japan that is Hokkaido.

Aloha!
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Old Jul 26th, 2012, 05:12 PM
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Thanks, HT, for the useful tips! About typhoon, would it last until early Oct in Japan?

We're open to renting a car, unless it's extremely expensive compared to public transport? The ryokans you stayed at seemed pretty pricey, but I'll into less expensive options. But it'd be nice to soak in an onsen every day!

Thanks again!
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Old Jul 27th, 2012, 01:21 PM
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You can check car rental on the TooCoo site. I didn't rent from them on the Hokkaido trip but have at other times and find they have the best average prices of all gaijin rental sites. If you can command the Japanese language you can probably get a better price on a local site.

http://www2.tocoo.jp/?file=rentcar_inbound/main

Sometimes JR Hokkaido will have a train pass and rental car deal which is what I used on Hokkaido. I found my deal by checking this site often.

http://www2.jrhokkaido.co.jp/global/index.html

They are running a special now with a train pass and rental car discount and usually run them with the seasons. The summer season pricing is the most expensive season in Hokkaido with the fall being a little cheaper.

http://www2.jrhokkaido.co.jp/global/...ss/rail04.html

IIRC the main typhoon season in that side of the Pacific runs from May through November with most typhoons hitting Japan between May and October with August and September being the peak season. Typhoons later in the season tend to be stronger than typhoons earlier in the season. This season has already started out with a bang with a couple of large storms I can recall recently(do a google search) hitting southern and Central Japan. But I wouldn't let the chance of a typhoon hitting or an earthquake happening alter my travel plans. In the case of a typhoon you will have adequate warning time as the weather guys spot these things weeks ahead of time and the Japanese warning systems are the among the best in the world and as I mentioned earlier somewhere Hokkaido is rarely the target. In retrospect, I was on Kyushu(almost always in the target path) this past November and didn't even think or worry about a storm happening.

And yes there are many other less expensive and still very comfortable options on Hokkaido other than where we stayed. Japanican.com and of course agoda.com can be useful tools in locating properties then sometimes contacting them yourself for the best pricing.

Aloha!
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Old Jul 27th, 2012, 02:02 PM
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Wow, thanks, HT, for all the specific and useful advice! I'll look at what you sent. No, I don't Japanese, but have some Japanese colleagues who I can probably ask about booking at a better rate. Thanks for the tip!

BTW, envious that you live in Hawaii (which island?). I've always wondered where people from HI go on vacation when they're already living in paradise! Well, at least now I know--Hokkaido.
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Old Jul 27th, 2012, 11:09 PM
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We are on Oahu....enjoy Hokkaido!!!

Aloha!
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Old Sep 6th, 2012, 10:00 PM
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Hi HT and All,

I'm looking to rent a car in Hokkaido. It seems quite expensive, like $100 USD a day? HT, from your trip report, it seems you got a great deal from the JR promotion. So what JR pass you needed to buy, and how did you use the pass? You also flew into the city near the Daisetsuzan national park, instead of Sapporol, so that saves some driving time and gas.

Any other ways to cut down rental cost?

Thanks!
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Old Sep 7th, 2012, 09:22 AM
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Yes we started in Asahikawa to minimize the traffic. In hindsight we could have started driving from Sapporo as the traffic is a non factor there.
IIRC we used a three day JR Hokkaido pass or was it a 4 day flexi....doesn't matter, use the one that would suit you best

http://www2.jrhokkaido.co.jp/global/...ss/rail04.html

did you check prices with the toocoo site?

http://www2.tocoo.jp/?file=rentcar_inbound/main

here is one out of Sapporo that you can join their club and get discounts depending on how much you spend

http://www.toyotarentacar.net/english/charge/discount/#

sites like japanican.com at times have rental car specials

Aloha!
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Old Sep 7th, 2012, 10:12 AM
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Thanks, HT, for your detailed response!

Does anyone know of a rental company with no charge for dropoff at a different city? Also, are prices and choices of cars more limited at Asahikawa vs at Sapporo?

We're thinking of flying into Asahikawa from Osaka. Rent a car, drive to national parks and drop it off at Sapporo. Airport or city? The other option is to fly into Sapporo airport and return at Sapporo airport. We'll probably save about 5 + hours with the first option? Any other advantages/disadvantages in doing either option?

=====
Side note: Any worthwhile day trips from Osaka? (We've been to Kyoto and Nara.) Due to the use of frequent flyer miles, we'll be flying into Osaka, stay for 2 nights and 1 day. Heard not much to see in Osaka, so wondering if we could go to Ise? Is it worth a day trip--doable?
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Old Sep 7th, 2012, 01:35 PM
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Also, is there a car rental office near the Sheraton Hotel in Sapporo?

Thanks
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Old Sep 7th, 2012, 01:43 PM
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http://shiretoko-t.com/en/index.html#01

I was checking the car rental using the website above. The lowest class cars is what they call Class S on the website (like a Nissan March). Is that too flimsy to drive to the national parks, mountains, etc. in Hokkaido? Is it big enough for 2 people with 1 big luggage and 2 carry-ons?

Thanks!
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Old Sep 7th, 2012, 02:11 PM
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S class cars are small but are safe and good for the Hokkaido roads and your needs.

The Sheraton Sapporo is actually outside of Sapporo in Shin-Sapporo right adjacent to the rail stop of the same name and I seem to remember a rent a car agency there in the lobby (maybe Hertz). Have you tried that toocoo site I left above for pricing? I see S cars at the Asahikawa airport for less than the 7000 yen day rate and the weekly rates are even better.

Osaka is one of my favorite places to go. Sooo much food and shopping. You can spend a whole day here along the Dotombori:

http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e4001.html

And a visit to Osaka-jo and its adjacent gardens, always worth at least half a day.

http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e4000.html

Aloha!
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Old Sep 7th, 2012, 02:42 PM
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OK, here's another crazy (or maybe not) idea: Fly into Memanbetsu Airport, closest to Shiretoko National Park. Rent a car there, and work our way back to Sapporo? That will save even more driving time and distance.

Is that airport really tiny? Anybody done something like this or know more about that airport?

Thanks!
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Old Sep 7th, 2012, 07:24 PM
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One way rentals are expensive in Japan. I found a combination of train and rental cars worked well: rent in Asahikawa for Daisetsuzan and in Abashiri for Shiretoko and the lakes (Masshu-ko is like a larger Crater Lake, and Akan-ko and its algae balls is cool). Incidentally, I found the area south of the Ryusei and Ginga falls (through the tunnel) the most interesting in Daisetsuzan. I used Mazda via Tocoo; look around on their website for specials.
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Old Sep 16th, 2012, 04:47 PM
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Hi HT,

I just re-read your koyo trip report. Excellent! It looks like we'll pretty much follow your itinerary, except for maybe skipping Kushiro (too early for cranes?) and Otaru (unless you really think they're worth it).

Question: Do you remember what rental car you got? Did it have enough power and stability to go up mountains and through mountain passes? From the map, the road to Rausu looks really winding. How was that drive? Did you go back the same way? Did you have to drive in the dark?

Our current reservation is for a Nissan March. Are you (or anyone) familiar with this? Afraid it's too tiny for the places we want to go to. Please advise, so we know whether to upgrade our car. Don't want to get stranded in the middle of no where with no cell service, no AAA, and surrounded by bears!!

Here's the wiki page on the Nissan March
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nissan_Micra


Thanks all for your help!
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Old Sep 17th, 2012, 06:42 AM
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JC, answered on your thread.

Aloha!
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