Sunday, May 13, 2018

Hokkaido Revisit 2017 三回目の北海道の旅 - Asahikawa JR Station 旭川駅, Matsuya 松屋

Revisited in Oct 2017.
Previous post (2013):

Transformation. The current train station looks relatively newer than the others in Hokkaido because it underwent a major overhaul back in 2011. I actually will rank this as one of the most beautiful train station I have seen in Japan to date. Adore the spacious compound within the train station where passengers or locals can hang out freely in, either to wait for the train arrival or to even mingle with their families/friends. When I was here four years ago, the promenade in front of the train station was still undergoing construction and I was eager to see how things would change after that. Now, in addition to redevelopment of shopping mall and hotel adjacent to the train station, Asahikawa JR Station has developed to become the focal point in the second largest city of Hokkaido.


What's nearby / What has changed? 

(1) Bus terminal, located in front of the train station North Exit (East side).
Platform 6: Asahikawa Denkikidou 旭川電気軌道 Bus 41, 42 and 47 depart for Asahiyama Zoo 旭山動物園.
Platform 8: Dohoku Bus Shirogane line 道北バス 白金線 for Aoi ike 青い池 and Shirogane Onsen 白金温泉.
Platform 9: Asahikawa Denkikidou 旭川電気軌道 Bus 77, Furano Bus Lavender-go 富良野バスラベンダー号 to Asahikawa Airport 旭川空港.

Platform 10:
- Asahikawa Denkikidou 旭川電気軌道 Bus 66 (Asahidake line 旭岳線) for Asahikawa Airport 旭川空港 and Asahidake 旭岳.
- Asahikawa Denkikidou 旭川電気軌道 Bus 60, 62 and 67 for Higashikawa-cho 東川町.

There are other bus stops located slightly further away from the train station.
- Bus Stop 11: Board Dohoku Bus 道北バス 630 or 667 from here and alight at Takasagodai iriguchi 高砂台入口 for Snow Crystal Museum 雪の美術館.
Bus schedule:
- For highway buses to Sapporo, please proceed to Chuo Bus Terminal 中央バスタミナル (near Bus Stop 11 in the map shown above).

Bus Stop 11; Chuo Bus Terminal on the right.

AEON Mall and JR Inn connected seamlessly to the train station.
(2) Opening of AEON Mall and JR Inn

The former site was occupied by ESTA (a shopping mall managed by JR) and Asahikawa Terminal Hotel and both ceased operation in Jul 2012. A new building which comprised of a shopping mall managed by AEON and a hotel owned by JR group, was constructed and eventually opened its doors for business in Mar 2015. The shopping mall includes a foot court, cinema and is also occupied by local household brands such as MUJI (Level 1) and Daiso (Level 3).
- AEON Mall Asahikawa Ekimae イオンモール旭川駅前:
- JR Inn Asahikawa JRイン旭川:

(3) Heiwa-dori Shopping Street 平和通買物公園

- Closure of Seibu Asahikawa 西武 旭川店
This major departmental store has pulled down the shutters of its last branch in Hokkaido permanently in Sep 2016. MUJI, formerly a tenant in B building, has moved its operation to AEON Mall. As for the other major tenant, LOFT, it did not source for another location in Asahikawa city, making Sapporo the only place in Hokkaido where you are find this popular lifestyle goods shop.

- Closure of !EXC エクス
!EXC was another shopping mall which ceased operation in 2014. The existing building has not been tore down and part of it is currently being occupied by Tsuruha Drug store ツルハドラッグ.
Tsuruha Drug Asahikawa Kaimono Koen-dori branch ツルハドラッグ 旭川買物公園通店:

- Matsuya Kaimono Koen-dori branch 松屋買物公園通店
To my surprise, this is the one and only branch Matsuya has in Asahikawa city. Having said that, the rest of the branches in Hokkaido are all located in Sapporo city. The reason why I have such deep connection to Matsuya is because its beef rice bowl was the first meal I had in Japan on my debut visit in 2011. Then after, I am always on a lookout for their stores with the distinct, bright yellow signboard whenever I am craving for beef or grilled pork rice bowl during any trip in Japan. For just 450 yen, I can get a hearty bowl of salt flavoured, grilled pork rice bowl, topped up huge servings of crunchy green onions and accompanied by a bowl of miso soup. Tastewise, the entire rice bowl is so well flavoured which whet my appetite instantaneously and the contents are always gone within minutes after tucking in. So far, I have yet to record any disappointing outing and I can always rely on Matsuya to deliver such satisfying rice bowl whenever I visit them.


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