Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Hokkaido Winter 2013 北海道冬季之旅 - Asahikawa JR Station 旭川駅, Heiwa-dori Shopping Street 平和通購物公園

Asahikawa JR Station (A28), an interchange station for the following train routes:
(1) Sekihouku main line, eastwards to Kamikawa and Abashiri.
(2) Soya line, northwards to Wakkanai.
(3) Furano line, southwards to Biei and Furano.
(4) Hakodate main line, westwards to Sapporo.

Train station underwent a major overhaul in 2011 and was transformed into a elevated platform station. Many amenities/facilities are available in this modern, newly furbished train station - Twinkle Plaza (to purchase JR Pass and Twinkle Bus tickets), shops selling souvenirs and ekiben, tourism information centre and even houses an art gallery! Spacious walkways and compound, artistic ornaments and wooden finishing made this train station a pleasant and comfortable place to hang out in.


What's nearby:

(1) Asahikawa Tourism and Local Products Information Centre 旭川観光物産情報センター

Located within the train station (closer to the east exit), this is a good place to drop by to gather information on attractions in Asahikawa city. There are English and Mandarin speaking staff working at the tourism information counters whom foreigners can seek help from. The other half is allocated for sale of products (agricultural produce, sake, delicacies, souvenirs with packaging bearing their very own mascot - Asapi) all originating from Asahikawa.

Asahikawa's adorable mascot - Asapi!
Asapi, being the mascot of Asahikawa, has all the prominent features of this city. A combination of polar bear & seal (Asahiyama Zoo), donning a costume with the prominent Asahibashi bridge and a cloak of delicious Asahikawa Ramen! 

(2) Heiwa-dori Shopping Street 平和通買物公園
Walk out from the west exit and head straight down this street. This entire stretch of road was converted to a permanent pedestrian only road in 1972. Shops, restaurants and hotels lined up on both sides of the road. Major departmental stores include Seibu, !Exc, Feeeal and Okuno.

Being in the smaller and quieter towns for the past few days, we finally got to do some shopping here in Asahikawa. The train station was previously connected to ESTA (a shopping mall managed by JR) and Asahikawa Terminal Hotel but both were closed down in July 2012. Plans to build another shopping mall on this existing site was unveiled in 2013 - a collaboration between JR Hokkaido and AEON Mall, and is expected to complete in 2015.

Left: ESTA and Asahikawa Terminal Hotel closed down in 2012; Right: Seibu [Permanently closed in 2016]
- Seibu: Made up of A & B buildings, Loft (a popular Japanese chain store that sells novel everyday commodities) and Muji can be found in B building. Supermarket is located in their basement level - a place that I like to visit when in Japan to grab fresh fruits, groceries and ready-to-eat bento sets. [Permanently closed in 2016]
- !Exc: [Permanently closed in 2014]
- Feeeal:
- Okuno:

Shopping street in the night; Mister Donut for light supper
There are also many cafes and fast food restaurants located along this shopping street - Macdonalds, Mos Burger, Mister Donut, Doutor, Lotteria, KFC, etc. Numerous ramen shops where you can taste Asahikawa's specialty shoyu ramen are found along the same street. Some of the famous names include Santouka (山头火), Hachinya (蜂屋), Aoba (青叶), Baikohken (梅光轩), etc.

View Asahikawa Heiwa-dori Shopping Street in a larger map

(3) Numerous hotels to choose from.
Stayed one night in Asahikawa Washington Hotel, located along Showa-dori. Approx 5 mins walk from train station.


Commemorative stamps:

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