November 15, 12 | Eri Makino
Have you ever heard the clip-clop of horse hooves in the middle of Sapporo?
If you walk around the streets of Sapporo enough, you might occasionally spot a two-story covered wagon being pulled by a large Hokkaido born horse. This is the "Sapporo Covered Wagon Tour" which has been running since 1978. For 35 years the sound of hooves clip-clopping through the streets have been heard and while the tours have been put on hold for the winter, they will pick back up in late April of next year.
'Ginta-kun' is the name of the horse currently pulling the wagon, he is only the second to hold the position. I have fond memories of my first ride with him as a child, so when I went for my second ride I found myself taking many photos of Ginta-kun. I think you'll agree that he's quite sweet!
The tour begins and ends at Odori 4-chome, located along the street leading to Sapporo Station. As Ginta-kun trots down his route, bystanders young and old are often surprised to see a horse-drawn wagon in the middle of a thriving city. Many fumble for their cameras or call out as he passes; he's quite the stud. Ginta-kun's easygoing personality means that he pays no mind to the traffic, or fans, around him during his walk, and he often dozes off when standing at a stoplight...
This was the first time I've been able to admire him from up close for so long. I'm not sure how many photos I took of Ginta-kun, but it's safe to say that I'm a huge fan. His lunch break is from noon to one, and I had to be careful not to get too close while he was eating.
Two tours are available and they take 40 minutes each. Passengers can enjoy a ride from Sapporo Clock Tower to "Akarenga," Hokkaido's old government building, or they can choose the TV Tower course. Mr. Watanabe, the driver, stops the wagon in several spots at each location so that passengers will have many different angles to take pictures of the sites. He also occasionally allows visitors to ride alongside him, rather than in the carriage. This kind tour-guide provides interesting facts about each location as he steers the wagon through the city.
There are two levels of seats available, 1st and 2nd floor, but the 2nd floor of the wagon provides the best view for taking photographs.
The tours really do go through the heart of the city.
Passengers also have the opportunity to get up close and pet Ginta-kun. His gorgeous, smooth coat and soft nose are quite a hit with the ladies.
Ginta-kun's face when Mr. Watanabe gives him a pat is priceless! The hardworking pair ride down in a truck from Kitahiroshima everyday to provide tours.
If you’re interested in taking a tour after winter has passed and service has resumed in April, there are two ways to go. You can either head to Odori 4-chome and wait for the pair to stop by, or you can call or email beforehand to make a reservation. For more information please visit their official webpage below!
札幌観光幌馬車場所 (Sapporo Covered Wagon Tours)
Odori Park, 4-chome
(Just outside Odori Station Exit Number 5)
Hours of Operation: 10:00-4:00
Length of tour : 40 Minutes.
(From September to November last tour begins at 3:00)
Lunch Break: 12:00-1:00
Official Site: http://horobasha.com (Japanese)
Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/horobasha
(Hokkaido Likers Photo Writer - Eri Makino)