There’s no direct flight to Rebun Island; it’s accessible by ferry only which runs among Wakkanai (on Hokkaido “mainland”) and Rishiri Island. The latter two do have airports, and Wakkanai being a relatively larger town is served by several domestic flights per day, straight from Tokyo. For budget conscious travellers like us though, we opt for a start in the prefecture capital Sapporo (札幌), as there are many low-cost airlines serving the Tokyo-Sapporo (Shin-chitose Airport) route. From Sapporo we then joined the locals, taking the overnight bus going 360 km north to reach Wakkanai.
Our flight to Shin-chitose Airport arrived around 5 pm, and until the 11 pm departure time of the overnight bus, we had some time to find dinner and hang around. This is our second time in Sapporo, and rain was pouring when we were here 2 years ago.
Hokkaido is famous for dairy products so a milk ice cream would be a fitting start for the trip. Two years ago we had one at the airport. Determined to find something (even) better this time, we did some research and found this cafe “Notre Sapporo” (ノルテ・サッポロ) at Sapporo train station. Tucked in a corner next to the tourist information desk, it’s not the most obvious to locate. But considering its items were mostly, if not all, Hokkaido produce, the prices were amazingly cheap. The milk soft serve ice cream is of course not to be missed – it’s rich, the size is huge, and you can even choose chocolate waffle cone for no extras! Really, don’t succumb to the ice creams at the airport, and wait until you get to the Sapporo train station!