When we think of Japan a stunning image of slow dropping cherry blossoms, overlooked by the wonder of Mt Fuji comes to mind. Without a doubt, the springtime in Japan is utterly gorgeous. But what about the white, snow-filled winter wonderland that Japan becomes?
Japan is one of my favourite countries. It will always have a place in my heart, as Japan was the first country that I visited outside of Australia. Anytime I can drop by Tokyo I make sure that we do. Today we’ve reached out to our friend Viola, who’s currently living in Japan, to take us on a journey into the Hokkaido Winter Festival.
How to Enjoy A Winter Vacation in Hokkaido Japan
Winter had risen sneakily to the top in becoming one of my favorite seasons. Not only does Japan have some world-class ski sites, it has amazing hot springs and winter festivals, making it an amazing destination for when the weather gets cold. Thinking about a winter vacation in the land of the rising sun? Wondering where the best place to frolic in the snow in Japan is? Well it’s Hokkaido.
Hokkaido is a prefecture in Northern Japan. With its delicious cuisines and beautiful site seeing spots, the city is gaining more and more international fame these days. The capital city, Sapporo, is particularly becoming one of the top hot spots for travelers in Japan, right after Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto. Whilst people are drawn to visit Hokkaido in the summer because of its pretty lavender fields, winter is also a popular time for tourists. Why? Because Hokkaido knows how to do winter just right. So without further ado, here are the things you must do during a winter vacation in Hokkaido, Japan.
Sapporo Winter Festival
The number thing that you absolutely cannot miss in Hokkaido Japan is the spectacular Sapporo Winter Festival. Called “Yuki Matsuri” in Japanese, this event is held for one week every year in February. Spanned over three sites throughout Sapporo, this is a whole city affair! Check out the jaw-dropping snow and ice sculptures by artists from all over the world as well as locals. Some of these works are truly bigger than life. The theme changes from year to year so you will never get bored. There are tons of entertainment like projection mapping shows and live bands. As well, you can get in on the fun at many of the interactive set ups like a huge snow slide at the Tsudome site.
Head to The Ski Slopes
For ski and snowboard lovers, there are many excellent ski sites that are easy day trips from Sapporo. Did you know the 1972 Winter Olympics was held in Sapporo? No big deal or anything but you can get an idea of why it’s a great destination for winter sports. The beautiful snow is always fresh. Most of the ski resorts have very good snow gear rental service so you don’t even need to worry about bringing any of your own gear. And if you are a nervous noobie like me, there are beginner friendly courses as well.
Watch Winter Illumination in Otaru
Otaru is a charming port city in Hokkaido. It is an easy day trip away from Sapporo. It is famous for its artisan glasswork, an iconic music box museum, and the prettiest water canal. In the winter, the canal gets lit up with lights at night time, producing a total dreaming effect. There are also several other illuminations in the snow that goes on at the same time.
Soak in a Hot Spring
Japanese onsens, also known as, hot springs are simply heaven in a hot steamy tub. It is even better when you can sit in one that’s outside with a magical winter wonderland scenery. The most famous hot spring in Hokkaido is arguably in Noboribetsu, a small town only two hours away from Sapporo. The water here is in with minerals. A soak will relax you from head to toe. Maybe a perfect end to calm those sore muscles after a ski trip?
Enjoy Fresh Seafood
Finally, we cannot talk about visiting Hokkaido without talking a bit about its food! Hokkaido is a proud producer of perhaps the best seafood in Japan. Crabs, oysters, fish…And if you visit during the winter month. Ie December to February, you can enjoy the freshest in season scallops. Are you drooling yet?
Hokkaido is a wonderful place to enjoy a winter vacation in Japan. Which of these activities are you most excited about?
The Blessing Bucket
Viola is a Canadian girl who is obsessed with seeing the world. She loves hunting for unusual destinations and best sunset spots with her camera. You can read her adventures over on The Blessing Bucket