22 Feb Hokkaido Travel Diary (Part 2)
This blog post documents the second half of my whirlwind 4D3N adventure in North Tokachi, Hokkaido a few weeks back, you can read Part 1 here.
Kamishihoro Region: Snow-Shoe Trekking on Lake Nukabira
After our 8am outdoor morning onsen retreat at Nukabirakan, we geared up in snow-proof outerwear we rented from the nearby Nukaira Gensenkyo Ski Resort (best time to ski: late December – beginning March!), and proceeded to make our way to the Higashitaisetsu Nature Guide Center to embark on a 3-hr long 4km snow-shoe trekking experience to Taushubetsu Bridge.
If you have never snow-trekked before, just imagine you and an intimate trekking group trekking through fresh 2-metre thick powder snow, through the quiet woods and over a froken Lake Nukabira. The untouched and undisturbed landscape will only stir up the silent adventurer in you, and make you want to spend an entire day trekking through the woods till dusk.
For more information on the snow-shoe trek we did, head on to this website. The guided tour costs 3700 Yen (approx. SGD $48), and includes snow-shoe rental fees.
Kamishihoro Region: Higashitaisetsu Highland Railway
If you still have energy after your trek, you can attempt to go on a trolley ride that runs on the former National Shihoro Railway. You’ll get spectacular views of Daisetsuzan National Park. Though just be mindful that it may be closed on certain days during winter if there is too much snowfall on the tracks!
For more information: http://arch-bridge.sakura.ne.jp/
Tokachigawa Region: Garden Spa Tokachigawa Onsen
I would definitely recommend spending an additional night in Kamishihoro, however, as we were pressed for time during this trip, we had to set off towards the region of Tokachigawa, where we got to have lunch and have a nice post-trek soak at the brand new Garden Spa Tokachigawa Onsen.
This onsen does not provide accommodation, but it does play home to 4 restaurants that serve Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner, so it’s definitely a good rest stop if you are driving around the region. The spa its dedicated to both families and couples, and while most onsens are separated according to gender, this spa is unisex, and will require all its guests to be in a swimsuit. If you do not have one with you on hand, the spa has clean ones ready for you!
The onsen will cost 1500 Yen (approx SGD $19) for adults, and you can stay for as long as you like from the hours between 9am to 9pm.
Tokachigawa Region: Daiheigen Hotel and Tokachigawa Swan Festival
For our final night in Hokkaido, we checked into Daiheigen Hotel. This hotel is definitely bigger than most of the hotels we’ve experienced, and caters more to tourist groups. So if you are looking for a more intimate cosier hotel, I would recommend finding an alternative hotel!
Daiheigen Hotel and its surrounding hoteliers have a shuttle bus provided every night during winter to ferry its guests to the Tokachigawa Swan Festival Saririnka. It happens every year between the end of January to the end of February and is essentially a light and music festival on snow-filled fields. Definitely a must-go for a romantic night stroll or a nice family night out if you’re traveling with kids!
We were slated for an early morning sunrise hot air balloon experience, but due to weather conditions, our ride had to be cancelled. It was disappointing we couldn’t go on a winter-time balloon experience, but at least our spontaneous morning walk around the hotel brought us to horses and an amazing sunrise view!
I’ve said this numerous times, but this trip to Hokkaido was definitely one of my best trips ever. I’ve snow-trekked, ski-ed, soaked in an outdoor hot spring with snow falling down on me, visited an igloo for the first time in my life, and was exposed to the coldest temperatures I’ve ever been in, and I was filled with so much joy doing everything I did. I’m definitely coming back next January with Imran and my family, and I cannot wait for them to experience everything I’ve experienced in this trip. Till next time Hokkaido!