Hokkaido in Winter

Choosing a country to witness snow for the very first time in your life is an easy decision to make with Hokkaido’s reputation in Japan as the island boasting the silkiest and most powdery snow in the entire world.

So here I was in February 2020 to bask in the prefecture’s amazing wonders, wildest sights and delicious offerings. Have a read at it, below.

Kani Honke, Sapporo

A feast of King Crab at Kani Honke, Sapporo.

Listed in my itinerary as a must-go, Kani Honke is not for the budget traveller. But if you have a little more money to spend, you would be in for a treat. Given that this was my first time trying King Crab, I may not have a basis of comparison to compare its taste to but the experience was definitely one to remember.

As you enter the restaurant, be prepared to be greeted by a pool of live snow crabs and king crabs at the entrance. You will then be asked by your host to remove your shoes as he/she leads you to a private dining area.

Kinnomai Kaseki Crab Course

At 11,819円 (~SGD 130) each, my partner and I went for the Kinnomai Kaiseki crab course which comprises 10 dishes: an appetiser, Crab Tomalley Tofu, Steamed Crab Dumpling, King Crab & Snow Crab Sashimi, Butter Roasted King Crab, Assorted Boiled Crab with Vinegar, Assorted Crab Kanisuki, Rice Porridge, Pickles and Premium Fruit Yogurt.

Gracefully downing each course while seated in the seiza sitting position, each dish was freshly prepared and the Unami flavours greeted our palates with comforting experiences perfect for a cold winter’s night. We were also able to bring home the food we hadn’t finished and oddly enough, found that they were more delicious the next morning.

Sapporo Kokusai Ski Resort

Winter in Hokkaido is the best time for a ski in the mountains and if you’re looking for a slightly affordable ski resort to engage with, I’d recommend Sapporo Kokusai Ski Resort.

At 3,500円 (SGD 38), not only was it on the way to our next destination, it was reasonably priced and not overcrowded like other resorts tend to be. It was a personal preference of ours to snowboard, just because it was cooler to do so compared to skiing (heh) and this cosy ski resort with picturesque views served just that.

Asahiyama Zoo, Asahikawa

The trip to Asahiyama Zoo was definitely the highlight of my Hokkaido trip! Up until that day, howling wolves were just scenes I had seen in movies and witnessing them up close and personal was truly an awe-inspiring moment. Ticket prices go for 820円 (SGD 8.90) per person, check out some of the animals exhibited below:

Hokkaido Ice Pavillion

Ever wondered how -41°C feels like? You can at the Hokkaido Ice Pavillion located at Kamikawa, Hokkaido. At 1,100円 (SGD 12) per person, the pavillion starts off at -20°C and leads you through a maze of numerous coloured rooms and corridors, one of which houses the coldest part of Japan at -41°C with a push of a button.

It was also here that we finally had the chance to see Clione Sea Angels before our eyes.

Sounkyo’s Ice Waterfall Festival

No one takes a vacation at Hokkaido without paying Sounkyo’s Ice Waterfall Festival a visit! Built entirely from ice, the ground features hanging icicles, kawaii ice sculptures, tunnels, a fireworks display, fun and games and more! The ice illuminates in the seven colors of the rainbow at night, making for that picture-perfect IG moment.

Abashiri Ice Breaker Ship Aurora

The north of Hokkaido is famous for its drift ice which floats south from Russia annually during this time of the year. Get the chance to marvel at this natural occurrence onboard the Abashiri Ice Breaker Ship which cruises along the waters, crushing the floating ice in its pathway.

The Best Ramen Ever

Trust me when I say I’ve had a lot of Ramen in my life and can never forget the rich broth from my bowl of delicious spicy ramen at Rairaiken located in Shari District Hokkaido. If you ever happen to tour the east side of Hokkaido, be sure to drop by this cosy little ramen shop that looks to be a locally-owned family restaurant and treat your vacationing selves. But be sure not to forget your translator app as the menu is wholly in Japanese and the owners don’t speak a word of English.

Teshikaga, Hokkaido

To finish off our winter escapade to Hokkaido, we spent a night at a Ryokan — a traditional Japanese Inn located just at Teshikaga Hokkaido. This accommodation, amazingly enough, treated us with the most restful sleep we had in our Japan vacation.

Just around the bend, we were blessed enough to spend a bit of time at Lake Kussharo where beautiful swans and vast mountain views reminded us to be appreciative of the world we live in.

As we got ready for our outbound flight the next day, we remembered to indulge in a cone of the ever-so-famous Hokkaido ice cream as we head off to the next prefecture of our Japan 2020 Sushiland retreat.

Enjoyed the content or looking for a particular city of Japan to read about? Let me know in the comments below!

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