Identified for its wildlife and mountains, rich greenery, snowy winters and arrow-straight roads disappearing into the horizon, the largest and northernmost prefecture of Hokkaido is known for its beautiful scenery. Determined to make a return from a century of forced assimilation, The Ainu (Hokkaido’s indigenous people) has worked towards making Sapporo into a bustling modern city that meets all your urban needs before heading out on explorations. Popular among thrill-seekers and snow-philes, Hokkaido is the place to be!
Niseko is one of the go-to mountain ranges ideal for travellers seeking snow sports, wining & dining, and onsens. There, you’ll find three main village bases: Grand Hirafu (largest, most convenient), Niseko Village (smaller mountains), and Annunpuri (least touristy, flatter mountains for ski newbies). Hirafu is the perfect place for those who value the convenience of restaurants and amenities. Although it is the most commercialized, you’ll still get the “Japanese” feel as many independent businesses still operate in the region...
Lush gardens, twinkling stars and cold winters, even the Japanese macaque monkeys learnt to soak themselves in onsens often surrounded by snow. Perhaps one of the oldest set-ups in Hokkaido, the Yunokawa Onsen established since 1653 is the best vantage point to take in sights of what a traditional Japanese onsen town looks like. For a hot spring that faces the ocean, the view of shimmering waters and trawling tungsten lamps glowing in search of succulent squid is simply breathtaking.
Starting off as a bunch of high school students building small snow sculptures in the 1950s, the participation grew larger and larger to what we today call the Sapporo Snow Festival. Look through the snow sculptures at Odori-site, participate in the variety of snow activities at Tsudome-site, then rest over a meal as you walk around the ice sculptures standing at Susukino-site! A few of the most impressive things to see? Masterpieces made by 2,000 people over a month, or the enchanting projection mapping shows.
With over 450 shops and nearly 1.8 million annual visitors, the Hakodate Morning Market serves the most fresh seafood and vegetables you’ll taste in Japan. While not nearly as large as the Tsukiji Fish Markets, stall owners here are more tourist-friendly who love to explain their harvest/catches of the day. Go to Donburi Yokocho Ichiba, and try their famous seafood rice bowls 20 eateries to choose from. There’s no better place to get a donburi than here.
Speaking of food... Kegani or horse hair crab (most common in Hokkaido) best season is from April – August and November – December. King crab or Tarabagani (most expensive) best season is from September -January. Zuwaigani or Snow crab (most delicious) best season is from November to March. Hanasaki Crab or Hanasakigani best season is from August to October. No trip to the island of Hokkaido is complete without having tried their king crabs that are unrivaled in quality.
Surrounded by panoramic views of Mount Yotei, the LOFT Niseko is located among the world’s best champagne powder snow and Michelin-starred restaurants!
Developed by renowned designers and architects Philippe Starck and Riccardo Tossani, is the most sophisticated apartment retreat you’ll stay in at Niseko with an on-site concierge ready to take your skis and book restaurants and activities. It’s also just a three-minute walk to Hirafu village that provides easy access to ski lifts and onsens…
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