5 Reasons Why Hokkaido Is the Best Destination for Beginner Skiers in Asia

written by Maria Santana Reyes

Booking a trip to a ski resort doesn’t have to be hard, especially if you’re a beginner. If you want to book a trip easily, try Japan—in particular, Hokkaido. Let’s take a look at 5 reasons why this Japanese island is the ideal destination for skiers in Asia.

1. It has a consistent amount of powder snow

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Photo Courtesy: http://kiroro.co.jp/

Hokkaido is located in the northern part of Japan, which is closest to the cold fronts coming from Russia and China. These winds gather moisture from the Sea of Japan and fall as snow on the country’s mountains. This close proximity gives Hokkaido a longer and more consistent cold climate, making it ideal for those who want to ski on fresh snow.

On top of that, Japan’s powder snow is highly sought after by experienced skiers due to its soft texture. For beginners, this type of snow can also act as a cushion if they crash. If you’re among those who still need to learn to keep their balance, you won’t have any worries since powder snow is fluffy and falls in thick layers. Their snow is also considered as the driest in the world, making it light and ideal for snowboarding and skiing.

2. World-class facilities and classes for beginners

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Photo Courtesy: http://kiroro.co.jp/

It’s true that world’s most popular ski destinations are in the United States, Canada, or Europe. However, Hokkaido has more than its own fair share of slopes to enjoy. In fact, the island has more than 100 mountain resorts to choose from, with many of them offering world-class facilities.

These resorts also offer the right resources to get beginners started, from comprehensive ski lessons to expert coaching services. For example, the Kiroro Ski Resort operates its own International Ski and Snowboard Academy, which offers individual and group lessons in English.

3. Close proximity to Asian countries

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Photo Courtesy: http://kiroro.co.jp/

If you’re coming from Singapore or Malaysia, the flight to Hokkaido won’t take more than half a day. This means no jet lag from changes in the time zone and no cramps from sitting for hours inside a plane.

For example, a direct flight from Singapore’s Changi Airport to Hokkaido’s airport—the New Chitose Airport in Sapporo—will take around 9 hours. However, a flight from the same country to Switzerland would take at least 13 hours to complete.

4. Courteous, English-speaking staff

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Photo Courtesy: http://kiroro.com.jp/

The resorts in Hokkaido cater to a lot of foreigners, especially during the holidays. Hence, there won’t be any communication problems, since most of their staff can speak English.

5. The onsens are a great way to relax

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Photo Courtesy: http://kiroro.com.jp/

After a long day at the slopes, it’s best to relax in Japan’s geothermal hot springs. Known as the onsen, these natural baths have shower rooms where guests can wash up before taking a dip in the waters. These are ideal for those who are exhausted from skiing and are looking for a way to ease their tired muscles.

In short, Hokkaido offers more than just optimal skiing conditions for beginners. From a shorter travel time to great options for unwinding after the day’s activities, you’re sure to enjoy a complete skiing experience.

Looking for where to stay in Hokkaido? Check out this blog by HotelsCombined on Where to Stay in Hokkaido: The Ultimate Seasonal Travel Guide to enjoy Hokkaido all year round.

Day Trip To Lake Kawaguchi

Lake Kawaguchi, Japan

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Cherry blossom in Japan has its record earliest start this year. Cherry blossom is short-lived beauty and unfortunately, I missed the full bloom period in Tokyo. The cherry blossom around the Fuji Five Lakes typically peak around mid april. Therefore, I decided to visit one of the five lakes, Lake Kawaguchi, hoping to catch a glimpse of Japan’s famous cherry blossom season.

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Bavani & Me

You can take a Keio express bus from Shinjuku Highway Bus Terminal, which is just a two mins walk from Shinjuku Station West Exit. The one way journey takes about 2 hours and costs 1,700 yen (SGD22). There is one or two buses departing every hour from the bus terminal.

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Bus ticket (Shinjuku to Lake Kawaguchi)
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\ Retro Bus

The retro buses are the easiest way for tourists to get around. A 2-day pass for the unlimited use of retro bus costs 1000 yen.

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CHERRY BLOSSOM!! 🙂 

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Bavani, Me & Cassandra

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Mount Fuji

Lake Kawaguchi is one of the best places to view Mount Fuji from a close distance. We didn’t get a good view of Mount Fuji because of the clouds. 😦

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Kachi Kachi Ropeway

We took the Kachi Kachi Ropeway to an observation point to see Mount Fuji and Lake Kawaguchi. The ride departs every 5 to 10 minutes and costs 700 yen (SGD9) for the round trip.

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Bavani & Cassandra

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Cassandra, Me & Bavani

That’s how we spent our day. I am so glad I have the two girls to accompany me on this trip. I don’t think I will get my butt out of the hotel to visit Lake Kawaguchi without their company. Thank you girls! 🙂

愛してる – Holidays in Tokyo (Day 5 Part 2)

Tokyo, Japan

This is a continued post from Day 5 Part 1 and you can read the previous posts from the following link – Day 1,  Day 2Day 3 and Day 4.

After our breakfast, we went to walk around Tsukiji Fish Market.

Live prawns!
Octopus!
Live octopus!
The man is killing the fish..
More seafood...

Take a look at the scallops…It is so HUGE!! How I wish the fish market in Singapore can sell such fresh and variety selection of seafood.

Inside the fish market..

I really love Tsukiji Fish Market! If the fish market in Singapore is as interesting as Tsukiji fish market, I will really love to become a full-time housewife and go to market everyday! Lol!

Next, we went to the Imperial Palace which is the main residence for the Emperor of Japan. I was hoping to see some impressive Japanese architecture but it seems that most of the buildings have already been removed. It is more like a park and entrance is free. Here are some of the photos that I have taken..

Say Hi! 🙂

After that, we end our day with a dinner at Shinjuku. We decided not to eat anymore sushi cos we went to keep the beautiful memories we had at Sushi-Dai.

Tsukemen dipping ramen
Ramen

This is our we spent our holidays in Tokyo together and we flew back to Singapore the very next morning.

Love you boy! ❤

I enjoy traveling and even more so if I can travel with my boy. My wish is that we can leave everything behind in Singapore and travel around the world freely one day. I guess that’s our retirement plan! Our 6th overseas trip, till then! 🙂

愛してる – Holidays in Tokyo (Day 5 Part 1)

Tokyo, Japan

We are tired but very happy! 🙂

We woke up at 4am to prepare for our trip and took a cab from our hotel to Tsukiji Fish Market. Taking cab in Japan is very expensive and the 20 minutes ride costs us 5,000 Yen (SGD$75). We had no choice but to take cab because the registration for the tuna auction starts early at 5am.

First in the queue!

There are two visiting time for the tuna auction, 5:25am to 5:50am and 5:50am to 06:15am. We missed the first visiting time slot as the taxi driver dropped us off at the wrong place.

Police with siren on!

Can you spot the police car in the photo?  The police wanted to catch us for breaking the traffic rules and I had no ideas about it at all. Lol!

Me: “Wah.. 这里为什么会有警察车的?”

Boy: “警察是来捉我们的.”

Me: “哈哈,不要跟我开玩笑.”

Boy: “怎么办啊? 他们真的要来捉我们的.”

Me: “骗人的.”

I continued to ask the security guards about the tuna auction and the policemen were standing beside us puzzled that why we did not have any reactions. I think the policemen gave up on us cos of the communication barrier and we did not even acknowledge their presence.

We were afraid that we would be late for the registration cos it is based on a first-come, first-served basis and each auction is limited to 60 visitors. We were frantically searching for the registration booth and when I saw the booth, I was too excited and grabbed my boy to dash through the red lights. I was pretty sure it was green lights but boy said it wasn’t and we obstructed the traffic. The police switched on the car siren and turned into the minor road to catch us. I had no idea about it at all till my boy told me about it. Like oh-my-goodness? Why am I so blur?

Briefing room

The group of us was ushered into a room for a short briefing before the tuna auction starts.

Everyone was given a green vest to identify ourselves as “visitors”.

My boy was very happy to see the tuna auction cos his favorite sushi is tuna sushi. I was very happy also cos I have always wanted to visit Tsukiji Fish Market to catch the live tuna auction. It is one of the largest fish markets in the world and a mecca for sushi lovers!

Tuna Auction!!!
Buyers shining flashlights on the fish to inspect the quality
Huge tuna but there are bigger ones!

The guy standing on the box is the auctioneer and he will ring a cow bell to attract the buyers’ attention to gather around the auction. He will chant at lightning speed and the buyers will use hand signals to bid.

Happy Happy! 🙂

Here is a video of the tuna auction! Even though it was only a short visit of 15 minutes, it was certainly an eye-opener for us to have a truly authentic Japanese experience.

The security guard who kept rushing us to walk fast
Returning of the green vest, which marks the end of the tuna auction visit
Sushi Dai - the Holy Grail for sushi lovers!

Of cos, how can we miss coming to Tsukiji Fish Market without having sushi! The hotel’s concierge recommended this popular sushi restaurant (Sushi Dai) and told us to expect at least a few hours of waiting time. This is the ultimate holy grail for sushi lovers and you must definitely try it when you are here!

Long queue!

True enough, you can see the long queue and we waited for close to 3 hours under the cold and raining weather!

Set Menu

You got to choose the more expensive option Omakase Course (3,900 Yen) which the chef will choose the best choices of the day. Additionally, you can choose one extra nigiri item (i.e. fatty tuna, sea eel, sea urchin, shellfish, seasonal fish).

Hell and Heaven separated only by a wooden door!

It is HELL outside and HEAVEN inside. It is a torturing process waiting outside the restaurant peeping through the small windows looking at how these people inside the restaurant enjoying the sushi while we are standing outside enduring the cold and harsh weather! Look at the glow and smirk on their face! So irritating!

All the frustrations were gone as we were greeted by a sincere apology from this friendly and dedicated sushi chef. He was very nice and he kept saying “gomenasai” (meaning sorry) that we had to wait for so long. He was also very enthusiastic to make small talks with us and even show us how to eat each sushi.

Tamago

We got the tamago first and it was served hot.

Sushi chef is preparing our favorite fatty tuna sushi!!!

Both of us got really excited when we saw the sushi chef was preparing our favorite fatty tuna (O-toro) sushi! He told us to eat the O-toro sushi with one bite.

O-toro (Fatty Tuna)

The whole piece just melts in your mouth. I immediately felt like I was in heaven and I close my eyes while chewing to appreciate the taste better. It was so mind-blowing that I felt that I was floating in happiness. Ultimate sushi! So good, so good!

This is the closest picture that I can find to show you the feelings that I had after eating the O-toro sushi.  Very touched, really.

Suzuki (Sea Bass)

Tai (Red Snapper)

Uni (Sea Urchin)

Sea urchin sushi, my another favorite! So fresh! So good! My second favorite sushi after o-toro sushi for this whole course. Slurps!!!

 Aji (Mackerel)

 Shiraebi (Baby Shrimp)

I think this is my first time having baby shrimp sushi. It leaves a fresh sweetness tingling in your mouth.

Magurozuke (Marinated Tuna)

Akagai (Red Clam)

It was served so fresh and the clam was still moving! What an experience for us!

Kajiki (Swordfish)

Tuna Roll

Unagi (Sea Eel) 

This got to be my third favorite for the course! I have never eaten unagi sushi that is this amazing and it is very different from the usual unagi sushi. The unagi was so soft that it melts in your mouth with the rice. What a unique sensation. My boy did not like unagi so he gave me his unagi sushi in exchange for my tuna roll. What a steal!

And of cos, we chose the O-TORO sushi for our last piece without a doubt.

And again, I felt like I was floating in happiness. SHIOK. SO SHIOK. Super SHIOK to start and end the course with our favorite o-toro sushi! THE BEST DAMN SUSHI WE EVER HAD IN OUR LIFE! What a lovely memory!

You can see the glow on our face! So SHIOK! So happy! This made our trip to Tokyo so worthwhile! We finally had the ultimate sushi experience! I have not eaten my favorite sushi for the past one month cos I do not want to destroy the beautiful and lovely memories that we had for sushi. This got to be one of best dining experience in my life! We really wanted to stay longer in the restaurant and order more but we felt sorry for the people standing outside in the cold. Happiness is meant to be shared, isn’t it?

I think this is a very important question for all sushi lover – WHERE is this sushi restaurant?!

Sushi Dai (寿司大)

6th building, Tsukiji Market, 5-2-1 Tsukiji, Chuo-ku, Tokyo, Japan

Please also leave a reply if you know of any good sushi restaurants to recommend in Japan! Arigato gozaimasu!
If you have missed our previous holidays to Tokyo, you can click on the following links – Day 1,  Day 2Day 3 and Day 4.
– End of Day 5 Part 1 –

愛してる – Holidays in Tokyo (Day 4)

Tokyo, Japan

Gloomy boy

We woke up late again on our fourth day and we went to Shinjuku for late lunch. My boy looks gloomy in this photo cos I forced him to eat something else other than sushi with me again. He has a cute reason for wanting to eat sushi only.

他说 : “喜欢吃 sushi 就是喜欢吃 sushi。就好像喜欢我一样不会喜欢别人。” 哈哈, 你说可爱不可爱? 🙂

Tsukemen dipping ramen

Both the thick broth and noodles were served cold which we did not like it at all. I think we will enjoy the dish if the dipping broth is served pipping hot. I kinda regretted not eating sushi with my boy after this terrible meal.

Akihabara Electric Town

Our next stop was Akihabara. Akihabara is famous for its electronics shops and it is also known as the Anime town where you can find many otaku (anime geeks) here.

We walked quite a bit and passed by at least three metro stations. We got hungry again so we went into this chinese restaurant to eat.

My boy is looking gloomy again cos we are not eating his favorite sushi.

Gloomy..gloomy..
Pan-fried buns

My boy is really good at this shooting game machine and I lost to him. I am only good at playing the Time Crisis 2 and I can finish the entire game with a token. 😉

Taken at a random attraction

My boy looks a little happier in this photo cos we had his favorite sushi!

Conveyor belt sushi
Enjoying sushi and beer!

We went back early to the hotel cos we had to wake up at 4am to prepare for our trip to Tsukiji Fish Market the next day. We take-away the sushi from the Standing Sushi Bar in Shinjuku and enjoyed it with our beer. We bought about 15 different cans of Japanese beer to try! We drink these Japanese beer well-chilled with lots of ice. Beri Shiok! 😉

– End of Day 4 –