For snow sports enthusiasts, Hokkaido is a wonderland: the generally high quality of powder snow and numerous mountains and resorts in the region make it a popular if not essential destination for those who love to ski, snowboard, or enjoy winter activities. Snowfall commences from November and the best resorts open for business starting from December. There’s plenty to do and see in this charming prefecture – here are five of our favorite things to do other than skiing in Hokkaido.
A New Way to Get Around – Snow Mobiles
Besides skiing and snowboarding, you can opt to take a snowmobile tour for a different take on speeding across the slopes. There are snowmobile trails available throughout the various premier resorts in Hokkaido, and you can go solo, as a couple, or as a group. New to snowmobiles? Experienced instructors are available on most premises to guide you through the provided trails and teach you how to operate the high-powered machines.
For Unrestricted Views – Get in a Snowcat
What’s a snowcat, you ask? It’s short for “snow caterpillar”, a truck-sized vehicle that runs on tracks with an enclosed cab. These cabs are usually heated to keep you nice and toasty, while gazing out the wraparound glass that make up the walls for a stunning view of the snow-covered outdoors. This is a great way to take photos and selfies (look ma, hands free!), as well as explore all that Hokkaido’s mountains have to offer. During these tours, you’ll be given an opportunity to check out sightseeing spots not as easily accessible to others. It’s something worth trying out at least once.
For an Unforgettable Experience – Ziplining
Sure, ski lifts are great and all, but would anything ever beat literally flying over these gorgeous snow-capped mountains? Secured to a harness, you’ll be able to glide over fantastic Hokkaido scenery at high speeds, perfect for the adventurous and thrill-seeking. Before you embark on this challenge, you’ll receive a basic training course from an instructor, for a worry-free experience. Ziplining isn’t for the faint of heart, but for those who love the adrenaline rush, or are willing to challenge themselves, or even those who want to change up their ski holiday routines a little, it’s a must-try.
For the Gourmet – Dining
Hokkaido is home to its own regional ramen style – in Sapporo, rich miso is king: this is where miso ramen was invented, designed to warm people up from the harsh and snowy winters. Don’t be surprised if you find toppings like sweet corn and butter in this already decadent bowl – mix them in and indulge. Hokkaido is also home to some of the best crabs in the world: the cold waters around the island are optimum conditions for high quality seafood. The best part is that you can eat like a king here for cheap – hanasaki, horsehair, snow, and king crabs are all widely available and sold for mind-blowingly low prices. While we’re on the subject of seafood, don’t miss all the other Hokkaido delicacies: sea urchin, salmon roe, and scallops.
For Guaranteed Relaxation – Visit an Onsen
Freezing temperatures and nonstop action on the slopes can take their toll on the body. To unwind, locals and tourists alike enjoy visiting onsen, or hot springs. There are hotel spas built specifically around naturally-occurring springs in the Hokkaido area, and most of them are a short shuttle ride away. They’re set against a backdrop of lush nature and greenery, so you’ll be able to relax your mind as well as soothe your aching muscles. These quiet sanctuaries are a godsend if you’re in desperate need of a break from the normal hustle and bustle.