I think this is the first time I’m writing about an airport…. But my goodness, this is worth the write-up, so take a look!
Our trip to Japan for our first skiing holiday saw us flying into Sapporo, which I was expecting to be a fairly small place, but I have never been so wrong! It has just about everything imaginable and is literally every small child’s dream come true!
On arriving at New Chitose Airport we had a little time to kill before our organised transfer to the hotel so we thought we’d have lunch. The selection of food was really great with numerous places to stop and eat. Individual restaurants lined the airport but also lead us to a food court with a small soft play area, which is handy if you’ve got very young little ones. From western food including a sandwich corner, pasta store and the usual Starbucks, to Chinese food, Japanese food, and an organic Café, you will surely find something to your fancy!
Just opposite the food court there is a Sky Museum that the little ones enjoyed going in (for free) to learn about aviation. They’ve played airhostess, had a go on a simulator, and had a nice walk around the display of mini planes!
There’s also an observation Deck (unfortunately closed in winter from December to March) but this gives great views and would be fab for any mini plane spotter! With the corridors of the arrivals hall being filled with massive cuddly toy displays and lots of things for kids to look at, I have to say we were nicely impressed by what we found….. But it was when we came back for our return flight that the real fun began and gave me the true inspiration for this post!
After an amazing week spent in Niseko (more to follow on that in a blog coming you way very soon!) our airport transfer got us in a little more than two hours before our flight and we were the first in the queue to check-in, so the whole process only took a matter of minutes!
While there are the obligatory Hello Kitty shops, this is just the beginning of your journey down what they have called “Smile Road”.
I expected the toy shops, and it was nice to see not one, but a couple of playgrounds and soft play areas for the kids, but then we continued our walk and it was just never ending as you pass along the connecting passage which takes you between the arrival and departure halls.
Hello Kitty has her own cafe, a rather posh affair, with colourful lamps on tables, pictures on the wall, and curries served with rice in the shape of Kitty herself!
Doraemon (the Robot Cat for those of you unfamiliar with this Japanese character!) has his own Sky Park, arcade and café, but also has a wonderful library and workshop which is a beautiful little haven where you can read books for free or do some arts & crafts with multiple tables set up accordingly to welcome the little ones.
I lost count of the number of Entertainment Zones with themed attractions inside that we passed by and if I’m honest, I don’t even know what some of them were but the choice was amazing and we simply didn’t have time to try everything!
All the coffee shops were geared towards the younger travelers making it difficult to choose just where to stop and enjoy. But, the second part of the airport is dedicated to Royce’s Chocolate Factory; a phenomenon in itself!
The famous Sapporo chocolate has its production line on display for all to see behind a glass walkway. See robots and machines moulding treats, and then see the Royce experts finishing off the delicacies before arriving in the shop.
While the shop is lovely and you can pick up novelty items as well as bars and boxes of this famous Japanese brand, it’s their bakery that nearly knocked me off my feet! Never have I seen so much chocolate infused into a patisserie selection as they have done here! I put on a kilo just looking at the sheer wonders before me.
Only the Japanese could take the concept of a ‘pain au chocolat’ and give it a revamp that is so original and so overloaded with chocolate, that you wonder if it’s really possible to finish in one sitting. AMAZING!
So not only could you do with an extra hour or so to be able to truly dive into the children’s wonderland that they’ve created, but ALL this is before you’ve even passed by the control with your boarding passes! I will add that as you are doing all this before heading to Duty Free and your departure gate, do keep an eye on the time! It would be very easy to get carried away and then get stuck in a queue at the final security check!
And there you have it, an overview of the New Chitose Airport in Sapporo, Japan. If you’re not travelling with children, you may feel a little out of place but fear not, there’s a cinema (Japan’s first movie theatre in an airport), a nail salon, and an impressive Onsen in the domestic terminal which gives you access to hot springs, open air baths, relaxation rooms and more.
My children are already asking to go back next year so it looks like our skiing holiday may become an annual thing, certainly while we’re living in Asia. So next year, on that last day when you have to leave the hotel and everyone’s sad that a week of wintersports has come to an end, there’ll be a little glimmer of hope as we drive to the airport…knowing that there’s a good couple of hours more fun to be had! S x