New Years in Hokkaido!
Imagine powder snow skiing, onsen baths, cultural meals and experiences with the local people mixed together with our private van, driver and tour guide and translator..... priceless!
Megumi planned the perfect trip for our family (10 total ) with our two grandchildren. From meeting us at the airport on our arrival to arranging the highest quality accomodations and meals, Megumi was such a pleasure to work with.
To be clear, Hokkaido Treasure Island travel helpedto plan the “ground only” portion of our to Hokkaido. Megumi planned every detail to match our family’s needs, exactly to our desires. Pre-trip planning was via email and any adjustments to itinerary were easily added or deleted as we desired.
Our family experienced at least three private dinners with great Japanese foods/cultural experiences in restaurants where the restaurant opened ONLY for us! From making fresh sashimi temaki roll sushi, chef guided tips and demo on how to cook egg roll, to grilled abalone which was still moving on our table as it grilled, to freshly deep fried Hokkaido potatoes as we helped to decorate our new years good luck decoration; all experiences of a lifetime.
The accomodations were great, onsen at Noboribetsu outstanding. Iwanai skiing unbelievable powder and we even had a group ski lesson from the owner and developer of the Iwanai Ski resort! Even details of ski rental were pre-reserved with Megumi’s help. The children had their own lessons as well.
Otaru was beautiful and so many special omiyage possibilities from personalized chopsticks, music boxes, dripless shoyu bottles and, of course, LeTao chocolates.
The children loved visits to the Samurai village, skiing, eating soft serve, fresh senbei, onsen, playing in the snow, and the Otaru Aquarium with the special penguin walk.
Meals were the best, nearly all breakfasts were hotel buffet complete with western as well as japanese favorites... ocha rice, porridge, natto, fresh tofu, fresh salads and fruits. So delicious.
Few meals were on our own and we were able to experience soup curry and memorable Izakaya dining in Sapporo. Of course, for the more exotic dinners, Megumi arranged “children’s meals” which included fried chicken and hamburger. (guess same could be arranged for the less gastronomically adventurous in your group)
Our driver stayed with us most days other than our “shopping and exploring” days in Otaru and Sapporo . We were so grateful for Kiri-san’s driving skills driving us through near “white out” conditions as we climbed into the mountains in a blizzard as we headed towards Iwanai. Each day we had a rough schedule but both guide and driver worked together to flex to the needs of our group. Many times he would drop us off near special sites (avoiding a very long line waiting for parking if we were trying to navigate ourselves) and be waiting nearby as we completed our visit.
Should be said, public transportation in Hokkaido is not as reliable say as in Tokyo, Kyoto or Osaka. There were many restaurants and experiences which we clearly would not have had the opportunity to share were it not for our private van and driver and guide.
On a last minute decision, Megumi was able to secure a private dining area for us to enjoy the famous Otaru Naruto chicken and sushi. As we exited we noted 20-30 people waiting to dine in the small downstairs dining area.
Akiko san served as our guide, educator and translator. She was knowlegable, open and flexible. She never rushed us through experiences for the sake of schedule. She was kind, punctual, friendly and so kind. She helped care for the children in a pinch and always made sure we were doing well as a group.
Megumi even arranged a private taxi van and joined us on New Year’s Eve to share soba and sake at midnight in Otaru. Great times for our family thanks to HokkaIdo Treasure Island travel, Megumi, Akiko-san and Kiri-san; Arigato!
If your family, large or small, would like to share a stress free, culturally rich, enjoyable and once in a lifetime experience in Japan, this is it. We cannot thank Hokkaido Treasure Island travel enough for the joy which we, as a family, brought home from Hokkaido. Priceless.
Stephen Yano(United States)
I was born in Niikappu(新冠)town in Hokkaido where is 2 hours away from Sapporo by car. My house is a farm for race horses, so I grew up surrounded by animals and nature. I have decided to come back to Hokkaido after studying and working abroad because I realized how beautiful Hokkaido is!! Hope you will love Hokkaido too!