Tuesday, February 16, 2016

#Travel♪ Hokkaido Road Trip - The Best Way to Enjoy Hokkaido w/ a NISSAN Rent a Car

Hokkaido Road Trip - The Best Way to Enjoy Hokkaido 
w/ a NISSAN Rent a Car

Let's go!
A unique trip through Hokkaido, Japan
- Japan's own Nissan cars are a trip to drive -

The main section of Japan is called Honshu (本州) and the
adjacent islands in the northern end of Japan are known
 as Hokkaido (北海道). When compared, the northern
islands are roughly the second largest land mass in Japan
and make up 20% of its entire area. Other than its
exceptionally rainy summer weather it's climate can be
described as subarctic with devastatingly brutal,
cold winters.

Winter Travel Hokkaido Car Rental
During this time in the year, winter snow of Hokkaido has already
run a muck so you can enjoy the snow in the winter by rental car.
By far one of the best places to travel by rental car and the
 easiest and most comfortable in the world is in Japan. Not
 only because other drivers drive more respectfully and
politely allowing you to drive more comfortably. Don't forget that
 preparation is often times more important than the
 journey itself. And what better way to prepare than by
 using a time tested dependable car like Nissan?^^

Oh, Nissan! Travel with care during your Hokkaido trip!
This time we'll take a road trip with friends on this Hokkaido
 car rental trip. We're rolling in the latest in advanced
technology of the Nissan X-TRAIL Hybrid. "The yatcha! Nissan"
(Nissan slogan) in recent commercials in Japan gives
the perfect cool image of a guy enjoying his Nissan
 (check the end of this blog for the video)

X-TRAIL (X Trail) Hybrid:
Nissan's latest model vehicle
Drive Type: 4WD
Seating capacity: 5 passengers
Fuel consumption: 20.0km / L
Total displacement: 2.000cc
Fuel / tank capacity: Regular lead-free gasoline / 60L
Rental rates: 6 hours - 10,800 yen 12 hours - 13,500 yen
 24 hours after the Sun. 16,200 yen - yen in excess
 of 12 960 1-2160 hours

* Booking: Nissan Car Rental Website (English)

<Nissan car rental & rates (12 hours)>
¥ 5,074 passenger cars (P Ratings / 4-5 seater)
(MOCO / light vehicles) ¥ 13,824 ~ (FUGA / three)
- Sports Car (P Class / 2-4 people) ¥ 21,600
(Skyline coupe / 370Z)
- RV vehicle (RV rated / 5-seater) ¥8100
(JUKE) ~ ¥15,120 (MURANO)
- Wagon / minivan (W grade / 7-8 people) ¥ 10,260
 (LAFESTA) ~ ¥22,248 (ELGRAND)
- Electric / hybrid (E rating / 5-seater) ¥ 10,260 (LEAF) ~
¥26,352 (FUGA Hybrid)
   Price * vehicle details

Nissan Rent a Car Chitose Airport Branch

Nissan Rent a Car Chitose Airport Branch is only
 7 minutes by car from New Chitose Airport, and it is
about a 10-minute walk from JR Minami-Chitose Station.
With shuttle buses from New Chitose Airport to the office
 there's no reason why you shouldn't be able to make
 it to the office.

[Nissan Rent a Car Chitose Airport Branch]
Address: New Chitose Airport, Bibi, Chitose, Hokkaido
 Prefecture 066-0012
        Google Maps
Phone: 0123-27-4123
Hours: 8:00 to 21:00 (no regular holidays)
          Special Hours - winter season (November 1 to March 31)
 8:30 to 19:30

* Store introduction page (English)

Rental Car Beginnings

Take one stylish beast of a car, add the beautiful snow
scene of Hokkaido and you won't stop yourself from
dawning your camera either.  Before you begin imagining
taking full-fledged car rental travel pictures when renting
 a car make sure you have following.

<Rental Car Checking Procedures>
* If you book in advance
1. Passport
2. International driving license
3. Specific vehicle check
4.ETC card (High Pass) Rental
  * Use Guide (English)

* Just for Rentals
- Check what vehicles are available beforehand.
- Credit cards or cash accepted.

Snow Country Essentials:  Snow Tires in Hokkaido

"Snow tire"
Get ready for an eyeful of snow! Hokkaido's winter
season is downright treacherous, with icy roads, and
 mountains of snow. (Getting scared? Possibly excited!?^^)

So many people who worry about accidents, are forgetting
one essential element of driving in the snow. It's possible
to be ill prepared. Driving in a car that cannot handle the
conditions is one of the main causes for accidents. With
 Nissan you won't have anything to worry about because
 Nissan Rent a Cars come equipped with snow tires so
 the car does not slide around on icy roads.

Mighty Weapons against Snow

Snow tires I have an advantage over regular tires for
a number of reasons. The tread depth is deeper than
the average tire with a convex contour allowing for
 the center portion of the tread to spread out better.
This spreading can be attributed to the numerous deep
incision lines on the protruding tread when compared
 to normal tires. As the car drives over the snow, the weight
of the vehicle and heat generated in the tires melts the
snow into water.  The main cause of slippage is the failure
 to easily discharge the water and the tire contact surface
begins to slide smoothly over snow. Snow tires deep incision
 lines in the tread minimizing such slipping by allowing
the water to pass through.

Now that you've gotten an up close look you can see why
we aren't worried as much about driving in the snow. But
 as always, drive safely no matter the conditions!

Ample trunk space

One of the most important factors of a rental
car is trunk space.This 5-seater RV comes with generous
trunk space for storing luggage.

Traveling in Hokkaido

In the midst of slushy rain we'll make our way to the
Kamikawa Branch Offices Asahikawa [旭川 市] and Furano
 [富良野 市] located nearly in the middle of the hilly area
between Kamikawa Basin [上 川 盆地] and Furano Basin
 [富良野 盆地]. The amazing part is it's size is equal to the
 23 wards in Tokyo! More than 70% of the area is
forested and approximately 15% arable land. Scenes
like this with such beautiful scenery really melts your
heart as you make your way up and down the swooping hills.

In summer, the lush landscape of farmlands growing a
variety of vegetables and flowers in the hills and foothills
is truly picturesque. In winter, there's such an ominous
feeling accompanying the barren landscape.

Let's keep trekking to find the real charm of winter
wonderland in Hokkaido !!

In the Bible, Hokkaido ...

 Hokkaido and its vast fields with famous trees
 is almost spiritual. I find myself only taking pictures with
negative space with nothing but clouds, snow and a couple
of trees and a hut for miles. If you ever get lost, bust
out your map and plot yourself next to one of these trees.
 It's sure to make for an interesting story. The stead
progression of trees is truly eye-catching.
It's amazing that you can find such a natural sight in the
 middle of nowhere.

Map code 389-157-129

※ Map code?
Map code refers to the address that you enter into
 the car Navigation.

The Ken and Mary Tree

This tree is named after  Ken and Mary, a famous couple
made popular through early 1970s commercials in Japan.
 Thus Nissan adopted the Ken & Mary or "kenmeri" slogan
 due to it's high popularity.

As you can see from the picture, the tree appears to be a
very strange one and why it gained it's popularity through ads
 is a little above our pay grade, but still an interesting piece
of history to admire.

Map code 389-071-727

There is no shortage of fun even traveling alone!

Not just the popular tree in question but other trees are there
to be photograph too! (tree fetish anyone?^^)
The usage of codes rather than putting in long addresses
is a welcomed relief from the standard use of
 navigation systems.
The charming details that can be seen through small parts
 of the attractions will keep you going on your journey for
 hours upon hours..

No Trespassing -

While incredible landscapes form right before your very eyes,
be steadfast young one. There are farm lands there that you
 must still respect so be careful not to accidentally trespass.

Want to know how to enjoy this place properly?
While driving your car if you see an interesting landscape,
 stop the car, hop out and capture it. We guarantee you'll end up
 with an equally unrealistic picture as us! It's just that unreal..^^

Take Heed Tourists
As a tourists you may not be familiar with the lay of the land
 and may stumble upon someone's property. Most estates 
are off-limits, even though there may not be anything there.
 Just sitting there holding a camera in the fields of private 
land doesn't exactly look too good so just be careful...^^

Asahikawa Ramen

Before passing through Asahikawa be sure to stop by a
 ramen house named "Maeda Honpo" (前田本舗). We ended
 up visiting just by chance and were met by a family-type
atmosphere similar to a famous place back home and abroad
called SANTOUKA (山頭 火). SANTOUKA is a major brand of
 ramen with a point total of about 50 in Japan and the
 United States.

In fact, this shop is a secret base to develop new broth
 cooking methods for SANTOUKA (山頭 火).

I feel like I learned something huge in fact!^^

The colder it gets, the better the ramen tastes

Perhaps the famous brand of SANTOUKA might have been
 born (山頭 火) here. The only word that comes to mind
after eating is DELICIOUS!!
Tasty piping hot ramen with juicy delicious gyoza

Owning Hokkaido!

There's a lot of arrows along the roadway in Hokkaido
pointing out various information relating to the roadway.
Mostly just the names of the current roads,  but also more
 useful information indicating the end of the roads which are
difficult to discern due to the snow buildup.

Now - let's head to the next destination!^^
The next stop is a well-known lake called Blue Pond or "Aoi Ike"
(青 い 池). The lake is very dark and doesn't stay lit up for very
 long so let's hurry! In a rental car we barely go to such an obscure
place so be careful when driving and  check for signs often.
When you arrive there'll be ample parking so don't worry about
where to leave your vehicle.

Map code: 349 568 888
Parking: Free (100 parking spots available)
Light-up period: November 7, 2015 ~ January 2016, 24 days
(Winter season is only lit during the tour perido)
(Lit up areas after shutdown are confined to the maintenance
 areas for environmental reasons.)

The Romantic Blue Pond - Aoi Ike (青 い 池)

Aoi Ike (青 い 池) is a mysterious pong with an emerald colored
hue to the water. In the summertime the ponds emerald green
 can really be seen.

The reason why Aoi Ike is emerald green?
The real reason isn't exactly known but most scientists theorize
 it's due to the waters high concentration of aluminum hydroxide
which reflects the shorter wavelength blue light similar to how
 the sky does during a sunny day. Ah the mystery of this pond
 is so enticing.

Aoi Ike Bearing the Mystery

This is more than just a typical pond. Perhaps it was the
 construction of the nearby dam, or even the nearby shopping
 destinations that contributed to it's formation. It's tough
 to say for sure..

Tour of those who seek it in the Snow

In winter the lake is covered with bony trees and the lush color
lake seemed dead to the eyes. The mysterious harmony that
attracted the eyes of many photographers who were taking
 pictures was still there, but a bit harder to find with
the naked eye.

Words can not explain natural wonders

Even the dead trees perfectly sequenced in order began to
come alive before our very eyes with each picture we took.
 Resembling toothpicks there they sat, unwavering, unyielding,
 braving the frigid cold.

How about Sepia?!

In summer, the blue color of the lake and the green nature
scenery of the fall foliage give you the perfect harmony.
In winter, you can enjoy the pond lit up in the snow.

Until the snow melts in April, some may see it as a hardship making
 it to such a destination but for us it was an adventure.

World Famous Attractions

Just as the snow rained down like stars falling out of the
sky we learned some facts after coming here. Did you know
that Apple devices like their popular mac computers use Aoi
 Ike as a wallpaper theme?? It's amazing how one picture
can attract so much attention and even lead to people
 traveling to visit places such as this.

The lucky photographer, Kent Shiraishi, actually had his
critically acclaimed picture nabbed from National Geographic
and adopted as the screen background of OSX Mountain
Lion. Amazing!!^^

Whiteout conditions!

The trip from Biei down to Obihiro takes more than
three hours by car. Though along the way we've faced
some whiteout conditions, we believe in the car and the
 fact that it's well-equipped to help us navigate this
 treacherous terrain.

Please note that while driving in Hokkaido you'll face similar
whiteout conditions and the best thing to do is not panic and
only drive as fast as you feel comfortable driving. Especially
 with snow still piled on the roadway in some areas. The most
dangerous situation is when snow melts, then freezes again
 turning to ice, and snow falls over the ice. It's impossible
to notice these areas so the best course of action is to take
 it easy on the turns.

Time to get out the car and fill our bellies!

Finally we arrived in Obihiro! Yet once again we find
ourselves at a Tavern in Obihiro Station. Accidentally entering
 pubs seems to be a pattern of ours...^^

With fresh fish and sake (rice wine) it's no wonder this tavern
 is popular among celebrities and commoners alike. The strong
 punch of sake is enough to melt this frozen body from traveling.. ah~^^

Every Morning, Snow Removal

Good morning, Hokkaido.
Waking up each morning it's interesting to see how much
 snow has been pilled on your car. Though residents are
already used to it, how exactly do they make it anywhere
on time at this rate? Luckily, you can also rent the snow
 removal tools from Nissan Rent a Car so you don't find
yourself in a whiteout situation.

Sheets of Ice

Even the license plates are sprouting icicles!!^^
To travel to Hokkaido during this time you must be protected
 with the best in winter wear. It may seem frightening to some
 but this is also the charm of Hokkaido.^^

Before you set off...

A bit of advice for dealing with windows covered in snow. Relax,
 start the engine and turn on the car's heater. After couple of
 minutes of warming up the windows go out and clear them off..

Powerful visage of this year's snow season

Cleaning away the snow is no sweat! Make sure you take the
 snow off the top of the car as well so you don't send it flying
 into other drivers.

Tokachigawa Observatory

With just a 20 minutes walk from Obihiro you can begin
a new journey at the Tokachigawa Observatory
overlooking the snowy plains below.

Google Maps

Surreal Journeys

The next destination, known as Shikaribeiro State Lake.
This lake is special because it lies 803 meters above
sea level, and the water depth reaches 99 meters. WOW!
Unlike the artificial issue of some of the larger lakes
around this lake has been created entirely from volcanic
activity,  a natural caldera lake.

Body and mind relaxation ~ vinegar foot bath

In Obihiro, Hokkaido you can find a convenient gazebo and
great view at Shikaribetsu Lake. The terribly beautiful lake
was chosen as one of Hokkaido's superb 10 views,
along with the blue pond we visited earlier. However this
lake was pure white (LOL) The reason why it's a popular
destination is because you won't find too many open air
hot springs such as this with such an amazing view. As you
 rest you'll be take aback by the vast lake as it fades to
 nothing in the distance. The Open-air bath only runs from
January 26th to March 31st so hurry and plan your lunch here
while you soak your feet in the hot water. ^^

Website: (Japanese)

Hard to erase the memories of Hokkaido

We will always remember the cold snow of Hokkaido with
lonely trees standing in such barren snowfields enduring
 the frigid winter. The mystery and beauty as we coexist in
the open space that is Hokkaido (北海道).

Even traveling alone, traveling in a rental car will bring freedom
and enjoyment to the trip. Final passing words of advice: Do
 not step on the brakes suddenly, do not forget that you need to
decelerate using the engine brake! It's also recommended that you
 return the rental car to the Rent a Car shop you got it from.

Safe travels!^^

<Rental Car Checking Procedures>
* If you book in advance
1. Passport
2. International driving license
3. Specific vehicle check
4.ETC card (High Pass) Rental
  * Use Guide (English)

* Just for Rentals
- Check what vehicles are available beforehand.
- Credit cards or cash accepted.

[Nissan Rent a Car Chitose Airport Branch]
Address: New Chitose Airport, Bibi, Chitose, Hokkaido
 Prefecture 066-0012
        Google Maps
Phone: 0123-27-4123
Hours: 8:00 to 21:00 (no regular holidays)
          Special Hours - winter season (November 1 to March 31)
 8:30 to 19:30

* Store introduction page (English)

* Booking: Nissan Car Rental Website (English)