Spend the most romantic time of the year in northern Japan exploring the white snow and sparkling lights sprinkled across the countryside and cities. This nine-day itinerary takes you through Noboribetsu, Hakodate, Lake Toya, Niseko, Otaru and Sapporo. Enjoy the perfect balance of relaxation and action as you travel from hot springs to ski slopes. Take advantage of the magic the season brings with it to discover Southern Hokkaido’s natural beauty.
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Upon arrival to the New Chitose Airport, you will be transferred to the city of Noboribetsu. The area is known as a destination for relaxation and has some of Hokkaido’s famous onsen, or hot springs. Explore the naturally-hot lakes and the valley that earned the town its nickname, Hell Valley. Indulge in delicious Japanese cuisine and unrivaled service at your ryokan, a traditional Japanese inn, which will serve kaiseki, a traditional multi-course meal that is considered to combine food with nature. We recommend staying at either Takinoya or Bourou Noguchi. Finish the day with a soak in the hot baths and a good night’s sleep.
Travel south by car to Hakodate, passing through Onuma National Park along the way. Look for the small islands sprinkled throughout the freshwater lakes in the park. Reach Hakodate, one of the oldest cities in Hokkaido. The area is known for its well-preserved traditional buildings. The old-world churches spotting the picturesque Motomachi Hills are worth wandering up the countryside to explore. Revel at the stunning view from Mt Hakodate at night when the stars are shining brightly. Spend the evening at a local ryokan.
Leave your hotel early this morning to visit the bustling morning fish market. Grab a quick photo of the monkeys bathing in the onsens before traveling to Lake Toya. The lake is located in Shikotsu-Toya National Park, which is famous for its active volcanoes.
Gear up for some amazing skiing as you travel to Niseko, one of the world’s top ski resorts. Along the way, pause and enjoy lunch followed by ice cream, which you will learn to make yourself! Once you reach Niseko, you have the option to either ski, snowmobile, take a horse trek, go snow-rafting or attempt another sport that makes the most of the area’s snow-blanketed landscape. Relax at your luxury Niseko hotel this evening-- we recommend either Green Lead Niseko Village or Kasetu Condo.
You have the entire day to yourself to enjoy the fresh white powder and unique culture in Niseko. If you crave more time skiing, spend the day carving up the mountain. If you prefer to stay indoors, learn how to make pottery, take a cooking class or you can even relax with a massage or spa treatment. There are several onsens in the area if you care for a hot soak, particularly necessary for soothing any skiing-induced aches.
Leave Niseko and travel to the charming port town of Otaru. Otaru is just outside of Sapporo and seems to be frozen in time. Check out the beautiful old bank buildings and warehouses. It’s easy to imagine that this was a busy hub when the town thrived on herring fishing. Treat yourself to some incredible, fresh seafood pulled straight from the local waters. The town is famous for glass, music boxes, cheese cake and chocolate-- peruse the local shops and indulge in what Otaru does best. This evening, enjoy the magical scenery from your luxury Otaru hotel.
Start the day off right by traveling to Sapporo and visiting the Mt. Okura Ski Jump. Feel posh and chic as you sip Japanese tea in Maruyama. Stroll through the Tanuki Koji Shopping Arcades post-lunch in the Susukino Ramen Alley. That evening, view the sparkling Christmas lights at the Ishiya Chocolate Factory. We recommend staying at the Suizantei Club Jozanke, just outside of Sapporo.
Explore the city at your own pace today. Shop in one of the many darling storefronts. Visit the TV tower, the clock tower or take a Sapporo Beer Brewery tour and see if the famous beverage tastes better fresh from the source. Stroll through the Christmas Market that evening. Keep an eye out for Sapporo Ramen, Genghis Khan and Soup Curry - three dishes the area is famous for. Spend a final evening in your hotel.
Make the most of your final day in the lively city! Savor a final authentic Japanese meal. Shop the outlets and stock up on last-minute Japanese fashion and souvenirs before you catch your flight to your next onward destination.
This contemporary hotel has a relaxed-yet-refined feel to it, with simple, sleek rooms, featuring their own panoramic baths that provide incredible views of the lush surroundings. Lavish extras like organic shampoos provide an additional touch of class. Guests will also enjoy the hotel’s Grand Bath, filled with the milky white waters of a hydrofluoric hot spring. Private dining suites are standard fare here, where guests can sample seasonal Hokkaido delicacies and contemporary kaiseki-ryori for dinner. Western and Japanese meals are served for breakfast. Bar and lounge areas are available for guests’ use, ideal for socializing, or curling up with a good book. Guests will find the hotel’s staff friendly and extremely hospitable. The hotel is an hour’s drive from Chitose Airport, and a 20-minute drive from JR Noboribetsu Station.
Takinoya onsen ryokan is easily one of Hokkaido’s best hotels, and it never fails to impress visitors. Sitting atop 11 kinds of Hokkaido’s highest quality hot springs, this 150-year-old ryokan effortlessly melds Japanese traditional hospitality with high international resort standards. Guests can look forward to local Noboribetsu vegetables and freshly-caught seafood to add to the healthy onsen experience, and an easy sleep with the soothing sound of waterfalls in the background. An on-site bar stays open until midnight. The hotel is located an hour’s drive away from Chitose Airport, and 15 minutes from the JR Muroran Honsen Line. Check in time is nice and early, at 2pm, and guests can choose from the hotel’s 30 rooms. An on-site sauna is available for guests’ use in addition to the outdoor onsen baths.
Similar to its sister hotel in Noboribetsu, Bourou Noguchi, Hakodate, is a contemporary hotel, home to the highest open-air bath in Yunokawa hot springs. While enjoying a relaxing soak in the soaring bath, it’s possible to look down onto the bustling streets below, with Hakodate mountain and the Tsugaru Strait making for a stunning backdrop. Guests may choose from three different room types, all of which combine comfort and style, two of which provide a private onsen bath. Full-course meals are served in the traditional ryokan style, with a menu that changes seasonally. On-site facilities include a café, library, bar, gift shop, and billiard room. Children are not permitted to stay here, thus providing a more romantic, peaceful experience for couples.
Located in downtown Hakodate, this fine, modern hotel has everything a traveler needs to be comfortable and relaxed. Rooms range from the 135-square-feet standard, up to the Ocean View suite, measuring an expansive 295-square-feet. We recommend a room on the Executive Floor. Guests can expect a host of in-room facilities, from an LCD TV, to a bathtub with a view, to an in-room kitchen. A cafe with sunny terrace is a great place for guests to enjoy their morning latte. Also provided are computers, which are free for guests’ use, while an on-site shop sells everything a guest might need throughout their stay. The hotel conveniently-located near JR Hakodate Station, the Hakodate Morning Market, and Hakodate Port.
Wakamatsu is a traditional ryokan that offers a guests a room-style choice of Japanese, Japanese-Western, and Maisonette. Each of the hotel’s rooms provides a panoramic ocean view of the Tsugaru Channel. Attentive staff are assigned to each room, providing constant, personalized service and warm, traditional Japanese hospitality. Large, shared onsen baths are available for guests’ use until 1am, and open-air baths are also available many of which also provide lovely oceanscapes. Exquisite food is included for all guests, served in the traditional Japanese style. For entertainment, guests may make use of the karaoke facilities on-site, as well as the tennis courts for exercise. The hotel is located in the Yunokawa Onsen resort area, a 10-minute’s drive from Hakodate Airport.
The Japanese countryside is home to some astounding luxury hotels, and the Windsor Hotel is among them. This Hokkaido hotel is situated in a spectacular location on a mountain between Lake Toya and the Pacific Ocean. It boasts some of the most breathtaking views to be found on Japan’s northernmost island. There are both western rooms and a number of tatami-style rooms and suites. Rooms are spacious and fitted with all modern conveniences of any high-end hotel. The facilities are similarly first-rate and include a pool, spa and fitness center. There are 13 restaurants and lounges including Japanese, Vietnamese, an Italian brick-oven pizzeria and a French restaurant by Tablet favorite Michel Bras. Within the hotel grounds, guests can enjoy skiing, golf, tennis and the hot springs.
Hokkaido’s Green Leaf Niseko Village blends local artistry and world-class design creating redefined luxury in this picturesque skiing village. This stunning year-round mountain lodge is designed to meet the needs and expectations of a discerning clientele. The 200-room hotel has a ski-in/ski-out base, and the nearby slopes receive 12 to 16 metres of snow annually. The hotel’s design takes influence from traditional European mountain chic and contemporary Japanese style. This hotel provides the perfect place to unwind after a day’s skiing: guests can warm up and soak away tension in the therapeutic natural volcanic hot spring. In the evenings, the resort comes to life with Niseko’s first rooftop beer garden.
Kasetsu Condo is a sublime fusion of Eastern and Western architecture, which pushes the boundaries of Japanese luxury accommodation. The three-story house can accommodate up to 17 people. The condo is well-lit with natural light and feels spacious and airy with impressive nine-meter high ceilings. There are four bedrooms and three bathrooms. The top floor is divided into a large open living area with kitchen, dining and lounge areas. There is a fully-equipped kitchen, complete with modern gas cooker, top-of-the-line appliances, and a huge island counter top. The expansive living room features a contemporary gas fireplace with ribbon flame on a bed of polished black stones. The floor-to-ceiling windows offer magnificent views of Mt. Yotei, which give out onto an equally-sizeable balcony, the perfect venue for entertaining or for a quiet relaxing moment. If you are looking for the ultimate in private luxury accommodation in Hokkaido, this state-of-the-art condo is almost certain to surpass all expectations.
One of Hokkaido’s most prestigious ryokans, Ginrinsou is known for its historic charm and warm, attentive service, as well as the breathtaking panoramas granted to guests who take a soak in the warm, healing waters of its open-air free-form hot springs. Sitting atop the small Cape Hiraiso, these elegantly-designed onsens combine natural surroundings with modern, luxurious architecture, and provide expansive views of Ishikari Bay. Guestrooms are spacious and luxurious, many with their own in-room hot spring bath, many of which also grant guests with picturesque views. The rooms are traditionally-decorated with a modern twist. A large, on-site meeting room can host big groups, set up in a traditional Japanese style, with Otaru-inspired design throughout. Hungry guests can head to Ginrinsou Grill, a sophisticated French restaurant and bar, which provides elegant dining and a social atmosphere to meet with friends for a drink or karaoke session.
Years of planning went into the design and construction of this relatively young ryokan. The rooms are spacious, modern, and comfortable, each uniquely-decorated to reflect the style and feel of that particular room. Two-bedroom suites and maisonettes are available. Washrooms innovatively stream hot spring water for a private onsen-like experience, topped off by Bvlgari amenities to make for the ultimate indulgent experience. A charming garden and courtyard surround the hotel, adding to its serene atmosphere. The on-site bar and cafe serves up quality spirits and cold Japanese beer - and guests can enjoy the experience of not having to reach for their wallet or sign a bill, since everything is included in the room rate. The hotel, located outside of downtown Otaru, is an hour’s drive from Chitose Airport, and 40 minutes from the nearest train station.
The JR Tower Hotel Nikko Sapporo provides sleek style and convenience in Hokkaido, Japan. Conveniently located above JR Sapporo Station with a direct link from Chitose International Airport by JR line, it is the perfect stop during a business trip for some rest, relaxation, and a dash of luxury. Guests can dine on French cuisine at MIKUNI Sapporo, seasonal western dishes at Sky J, traditional Japanese at Tancho, and casual European fare at Serena. Then, they can enjoy an indulgent treatment at the Sky Resort Spa and relax in the natural hot springs, air bubble baths and saunas. At the end of the day, guests can take in spectacular views from their room or suite, all located on floors 23 to 34 for the perfect sweeping panorama.
The Sapporo Grand Hotel is a mature hotel with decades of experience delighting its guests, having been the first European-style hotel to enter the Hokkaido market. Guest rooms combine a traditional Japanese feel with modern, high-tech touches. We recommend the Premium Floor, Grand in Grand, which provide guests with luxurious comforts in a homely atmosphere. Guests may choose from seven bars and restaurants, serving Western, Japanese (including local Hokkaido speciality cuisine), and Chinese favorites. Guests may also make use of the hotel’s chapel, shopping arcade, business center and library, and Healing Court spa, where all kinds of aesthetic treatments are available. The hotel is conveniently-located a mere eight-minute walk from JR Sapporo Station, and around 40 minutes by high-speed rail from Chitose Airport.
This hotel effortlessly blends Japanese traditions with modern decor and amenities. Low lighting on pastel-colored walls creates a luxurious setting, while stone and wood work are displayed throughout the hotel in elaborate structures and formations. Home to just 14 rooms, the hotel has a boutique, exclusive feel, and guests may choose from Japanese- or Western-style rooms, or a combination of the two. Rooms come with free WiFi, flat-screen TVs, air-conditioning, and cypress wood baths in the en suites. The restaurant serves up Japanese and Western cuisines with innovative twists, using fresh ingredients that have been locally-sourced. Guests can take a soak in the healing waters of the hotel’s elegantly-appointed hot spring baths, and also enjoy sauna and a massage.