We visited Japan for 8 days - here are the first 5 in ski country Hokkaido! The next post will discuss our visit to Tokyo :)
I've only covered highlights, as the purpose of this post was to show the itinerary. I will post more detail about specific days in following posts.
Day 1: Arrive in Niseko
We left Toronto and flew to Tokyo via MSP on Delta, no issues. We arrived in Haneda, and transferred to the domestic terminal for our flight to New Chitose (Sapporo) on Skymark. The Japanese are BRUTALLY efficient at boarding planes! We got on 15 minutes prior to the departure time and were on time. We had rented a car to drive ourselves to Niseko and arrived at midnight. The renting process was easy and driving on the left side only took a *little* getting used to. The roads were very snowy so it took us about 2.5 hours.
Day 2: Ski and jetlag coma
2 of us back to New Chitose Airport to pick up our friends arriving late due to delays and canceled flights and 1 skiing. Skiing was wicked! Then late lunch in Niseko at the Grand Hirafu (don't eat there unless you have to, it's not good), drinks, renting more ski gear, and jet lag induced early bed times.
Day 3: ski and Hokkaido blizzard tour
4 of us drove around the area of Hokkaido to see the national parks, the lakes, and the mountains. We saw some amazing country, and a small blizzard. We stopped in an onsen town northeast of Noboribetsu, saw the spirits that guard hell, did some souvenir shopping, drove along the ocean, and drove through avalanche tunnels in a mountain pass. 2 of us skied - best day since we discovered Moiwa ski resort. Then Yakitori for dinner in Niseko.
Day 4: ski, onsens, and karaoke
Onsen time! We had a private onsen here because a few of us have tattoos. If you recall, tattoos are strictly prohibited in public onsens. In some onsens, they allow you to cover your tattoos with bandages. In recent history, having tattoos meant you were involved in a dangerous gang called the Yakuza. Delicious lunch in Niseko of sushi, gyoza, and tempura, then karaoke! and ramen for dinner.
Day 5: sapporo beer museum and chitose
We left our Chalet in Niseko and drove to Sapporo to enjoy the Sapporo Beer Museum, the clock tower, Mt Moiwa (it was too cloudy to bother riding the gondola up) and stayed in Chitose for the evening. We had a delicious sushi dinner here.