Hokkaido

Hokkaido, Japan is one of the least developed islands in Japan, a major draw for many intrepid travelers trying to get away from the chaos of areas like Tokyo. It is both the northernmost and the second largest Japanese island. Hokkaido skiing is one of the top reasons for a stopover during vacations. Hokkaido weather in the winter months is some of the harshest in the country, with below-zero temperatures, tons of snow, and frozen water. The beauty of this city's weather pattern is that the summer months do not bring humidity and heat with them, unlike most parts of Japan.

Since Hokkaido sees little tourism compared to top tourist spots in Japan, a beautiful and unspoiled natural environment is the award for making the journey north, but there are also dense cities to explore here such as Sapporo. Hokkaido's popularity is growing though, and this pristine area will likely eventually become another tourist hub. Nature lovers have much to do in all seasons from cycling, hiking, and camping in the fall to snowboarding and skiing in the winter. The many outdoor things to do in Hokkaido Japan make it a distinct region.

There are two main ski resorts offering the best Hokkaido skiing. Niseko, the most popular for ski vacations, is famous for its abundant powder. Stunning backcountry trails are traversed by a large percentage of Australians who have popularized the resort over the last few years. Runs at Niseko are wide and long and backcountry skiing is excellent. Helicopter tours and resort tours offer skiers an efficient, but costly way in to the interior for some of the best skiing conditions in Japan. The main resorts at Niseko are Niseko Village, Grand Hirafu, and Annupurni. Between the three resorts, there is an incredible range of nightlife, hotels, and dining.

Rusutsu is the second most popular resort for Hokkaido skiing trips. It's just one mountain over from Niseko. The entire resort area spans three mountains, each with an array of ski runs, many tree runs, groomed trails, and fantastic powder. The resort's core is home to a huge hotel compound including a high-rise tower, two separate wings, and a lodge offering trail-side vacation rentals. Transportation between the buildings is available via the resort's monorail.

There are scores of things to do in Hokkaido Japan around Rusutsu because of the closeness of Lake Toya, or Lake Toyako as its also known. Other activities include shopping, visiting the Japanese hotel springs, swimming at the pool, and dining. During the summer a large amusement park with 8 roller coasters and more than 50 attractions is open along with golf facilities. Getting to both the resorts from December through April is easy on the many daily buses running from Sapporo and nearby airports.

Though Hokkaido is most popular for skiing, there are many other great places to explore. Gorgeous flower fields in Furano, the center of Hokkaido, an exceptional sight in the summer, and a good spot for experiencing rural life. Sapporo, with all it's urban delights, is another interesting place to explore with ample attractions. Noboribetsu is Hokkaido's best-known hot spring resort while Jozankei is the most worthy of area onsens. Two national parks, scenic twin islands, and many activity-laden lakes offer a lengthy list of things to do in Hokkaido Japan and make it a difficult place to leave.

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