Unique Winter Programs for the Whole Family
by HTIT team
When was the last time you stood in the middle of a true winter landscape? As far as the eye can see everything around you is covered by a gorgeous white blanket from the ground under your feet up to the treetops. The winter air is crisp, and the snow sparkles in the sun. You have all the time in the world and there is so much you can do!
Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost island is home to such a winter. World-famous for its skiing resorts, it lures people from around the world to enjoy the snow. Aside from Skiing, many people enjoy Snowmobiling, Dog sledding, Penguine Parades at the Zoo, and more.
Today we would like to share a few activities which we highly recommend for families with children, that are probably not as well known as the activities we just mentioned.
EARLY WINTER FUN AT ASAHIDAKE
Mount Asahi also known as “Asahidake” is the highest mountain of Hokkaido and the first place in Japan where the snow falls each year. The first snow falls in September, and by November (sometimes even October) there already is enough snow to play with! To make things even more perfect, this active volcano is located in the gorgeous Daisetsuzan National Park (Daisetsuzan literally: big snow mountain), the largest national park of Hokkaido!
Our trusted guide will take you and your whole family to the snowy Asahidake mountainside to play in the snow to your heart’s content!
The guide is a true master of inventing his original, super interesting snow games, that you cannot even imagine. Both children and adults alike enjoy sledding down a snowy slope and building snowmen. Or have you ever tried diving into the deep snow blanket? You’ll be surprised, it’s like jumping into deep water!
When you finally start to feel exhausted from all the excitement it is time to set up a cozy private outdoor café to enjoy some local snacks and warm drinks. And after all the fun you can maybe dip into nearby “Onsen” hot springs to warm up and share the highlights of your day full of snow and fun.
WINTER CULINARY TOUR IN NAYORO CITY: “MOCHI” RICE CAKE POUNDING AND SWEET WINTER SPINACH
Nayoro is a city in the northern part of Hokkaido. The city is located in a valley surrounded by mountains, which is maybe why the annual temperature range of the city is so impressive. During the winter, the temperature can go below – 30 °C (- 25°F) and in summer above 30°C (90°F)!
Did you know, that there are some plants used for seasonal Japanese cuisine, that require this wide range of temperatures to prosper and become super delicious?
Perhaps the most famous such product in the Nayoro area is “mochi-kome” – a special rice variety used for making “mochi” rice cakes. If you are already an expert in Japanese cuisine, you might know that traditionally, rice cakes are made quite interestingly by pounding mochi rice into a dough with a special wooden hammer.
Warm, fresh and soft “mochi” rice cakes are so good it is hard to describe them by words. Pat this traditional delicacy nice and round with your own hands and enjoy it for instance with some sweet soy sauce or roll it in “Kinako” roasted soybean flour before tasting. Find out what is your favorite style!
There is another winter delicacy in the Nayoro city, that will take you by surprise: Inside plastic greenhouses, without any special warming, in the middle of the harsh climate of – 30 °Celsius at the coldest, grows a special variety of spinach. Winter Spinach is especially sweet and yummy because the cold weather makes the plant build up sugars for survival.
A superb way to spend a nice winter evening and a local meal at its best: You will get to gather the fresh Winter Spinach with your own hands and use it with some Hokkaido specialty “kombu” kelp soup stock for nice and warm “shabu-shabu” hotpot. You are sure to be surprised by the spectacular sweet taste!
The brand-name of this local specialty spinach is “Nayoro-Hoshizora-Yukimi-Hourensou” (なよろ星空雪見法蓮草) which means something like “Spinach Grown Gazing at the Stars and the Snow”. Quite romantic isn’t it?
BUILD AN IGLOO WITH THE NATURE MASTER IN NISEKO
Mr. Keizō Anan is the owner of Nature and Lodging Center “Bōken Kazoku” (Japanese for “Adventure Family”) which is located at the foot of the magnificent Mount Yōtei in Niseko. He has lived in the area for 30 years and knows the area like the back of his hand, he is a true Nature Master.
Let the Nature Master share with you his wisdom of how to have a real winter adventure in the snowy forest, starting from building a real Igloo with your own hands!
As if Igloo-building would not be enough, there will also be an outdoor BBQ, which you can eat inside the Igloo. Together with a hot drink, a cold winter night becomes a cozy experience!
If you are interested in any further information or making an inquiry for your truly unique holiday, we are here for you.
We offer tailor-made services, so don’t hesitate to share your ideas and requests when making the inquiry. This is going to be the best winter ever!
Of course, we also offer more standard activities such as skiing, snowmobiling, dog sledding etc!
Winter is also the season of many unique festivals across Hokkaido!
You might have already heard of Sapporo Snow Festival, but did you know that in ski resort Hoshino Resorts Tomamu, located around the middle part of the island, there is an annual Ice Village made completely out of ice (yes, everything from the building walls to the furniture inside the buildings all the way to the glasses used at their Ice Bar is made of ice!).
For more information on this and more, feel free to check out our previous blog article: https://hokkaido-sightseeing.com/en/blog/5best-winterfestivals-hokkaido/