If you’re planning a trip to Japan, the capital of Tokyo and various other major metropolitan areas may grab the bulk of your attention and soak up a great deal of your time. If you want to see more of the country and its traditional culture outside of the buzzing metropolises, consider running away to the northern island of Hokkaido to explore its hot springs and ski areas and eat a ton of fresh sushi.
What to do
The island of Hokkaido and its main city of Sapporo are perfect if you want to explore the natural world of Japan. Besides parks and areas suitable for hiking, there are several natural hot springs to take advantage of thanks to volcanic activity in the region. There are a wide variety of types of hot springs to explore, ranging from sulfur to aluminum sulfate. All varieties feel great, but the different minerals and elements have different health benefits that will benefit your body in different ways.
Hokkaido is a great destination all year, but it really shines in the winter. Resort towns like Niseko will feed your need for skiing, snowboarding or other wintertime sports and activities. At the beginning of February of each year, the world-famous Sapporo Snow Festival takes over the town with multitudes of snow and ice sculptures, all of which are ruled over by the Ice Queen.
What to eat
Japan as a whole is a great place to eat if you love sushi, but Sapporo in particular has a lot of high-quality restaurants that are routinely considered among the best in the country. According to Savor Japan, the top place in town is Sushi Dokoro Ueno. Its homey environment, seasonal menu and expert chefs will ensure a thoroughly memorable and delicious experience.
Hokkaido is also the home of soup curry, and several restaurants — including the highly rated Nishitondendori Soup Curry Honpo — offer it as a specialty. Whereas a lot of Japanese dishes are lighter, this meal is denser with heavy brown broth served with rice. It’s up to you to choose the broth base, spice level and other additions, which range from burger patties to eggs. Many restaurants pride themselves on their variety of available ingredients or their special spice blend.
Where to stay
There are several hotels throughout Hokkaido, but it’s well worth considering a stay at a customary Japanese guest house. These lodgings, known as ryokan, forego some of the expected modern conveniences in favor of traditional rooms with low tables, paper screens and tatami mats. Keeping with the more rustic approach, many ryokan can’t be booked online, but the Japanese Guest House hub is a great resource for figuring out how to make your stay possible.
The island of Hokkaido is a great destination for you if you want to learn more about Japan’s culture while appreciating its natural beauty. It is a place of great beauty all year long, making it an exceptional destination whether you prefer a winter vacation or a summer getaway.
This article is presented by BMW of Cincinnati North in Cincinnati, Ohio.