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.
- Experience what is considered one of the planet’s best ski resorts in Niseko
- Relax in the natural hot springs of Noboribetsu
- Get into the season’s spirit as you stroll through Sapporo’s Christmas Market
- See active volcanos in Lake Toya
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.
Lake Toya, Japan
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.
Lake Toya & Niseko, Japan
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.
Niseko & Otaru, Japan
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.
Otaru & Sapporo, Japan
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-koen Park. 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.