Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost island, is famous for its breathtaking winter scenery and abundance of outdoor activities. Skiing and snowboarding are the must-try winter sports in Hokkaido, and the island is also known for its numerous hot springs, or onsens, which provide a perfect way to relax and warm up after a day on the slopes.
In this blog post, we’ll check out the beauty of Hokkaido winter and the unique experiences of skiing and bathing in onsens.
Skiing in Hokkaido
- Niseko – Known for its powdery snow, Niseko is one of the most popular ski resorts in Hokkaido. The resort has numerous runs for skiers of all levels, and the majestic views of Mount Yotei make it a popular destination for photographers as well.
- Furano – Situated in the center of Hokkaido, Furano is a popular ski resort known for its wide variety of runs and long ski season. The resort is also well-known for its lavender fields in the summer months.
- Rusutsu – This family-friendly resort has over 37 kilometers of ski runs and has an indoor wave pool and amusement park for non-skiers. The resort’s proximity to Lake Toya makes it a must-go destination for sightseeing as well.
Onsen Hot Springs in Hokkaido
- Jigokudani – Situated in Noboribetsu, Jigokudani is a unique hot spring area known for its steam vents and bubbling mud pools. Guests can walk through the area and view the geothermal activity, and several onsen hotels in the area offer access to the hot springs.
- Sounkyo – Located in the Daisetsuzan National Park, Sounkyo is a picturesque hot spring town famous for its outdoor hot springs with stunning views of the surrounding mountains. The town is also known for its ice falls, which offer a unique winter sightseeing experience.
- Shikotsu-Toya National Park – This national park is home to two of Hokkaido’s most popular hot springs, Lake Shikotsu and Lake Toya. Lake Shikotsu is known for its crystal-clear waters and outdoor hot springs, while Lake Toya is famous for its nighttime views of the stunning mountains.
Tips for Enjoying Onsen Hot Springs
- Follow the rules – Onsen etiquette is important in Japan, so make sure to read up on the rules before traveling. For instance, it’s customary to wash your body before entering the hot springs, and tattoos are often not allowed.
- Try different types of onsens – Hokkaido has different onsen types, including sulfur, iron, and sodium chloride. Each type has unique benefits for the body, so try multiple ones to see which you prefer.
- Stay hydrated – It’s essential to drink plenty of water before and after soaking in the hot springs to prevent dehydration.
Hokkaido winter offers a unique and stunning snow-filled landscape, with skiing and onsen hot springs providing a perfect way to enjoy the season. Whether you’re an experienced skier or just looking to relax in the hot springs, Hokkaido has something for all. By following onsen etiquette, trying different types of onsens, and staying hydrated, you can fully enjoy the distinct experience of bathing in onsen hot springs in Hokkaido.