When it comes to the holiday spirit, Hokkaido, Japan lights one of the brightest candles in Asia. If your vision of Christmas wouldn’t be complete without a chill in the air and a blanket of crisp snow on the ground, Hokkaido is it.
The second-largest island in Japan, Hokkaido makes up 20% of the country’s landmass but only 5% of its population, according to Lonely Planet. This makes for a peaceful contrast with bustling, high-density cities like Tokyo and Osaka. If you’re ready to celebrate the holiday season in a cozy, restful yet interesting environment, Hokkaido is where you want to be this Christmas.
Hokkaido Weather Forecast: Christmassey with a Chance of Snowmen
One of the main selling points of Hokkaido for Christmas fanatics is its weather. Hokkaido’s climate of cool summers and icy winters means its likely to receive snow during the month of December, which is why many visitors dreaming of a white Christmas head to the island to celebrate the holiday.
With average temperatures hovering around 0 degrees Celsius during the month of December, Hokkaido enjoys an ideal atmosphere that’s neither too cold to enjoy the outdoors nor too warm for snowfall. The entire island is fair game for a dusting of white powder, but if you head up into the mountains for a ski trip, it’s pretty certain you’ll get that white Christmas you’ve been desiring.There are more than 500 ski resorts peppering the country
If you don’t want to miss the turkey at the family feast, you could cheat and stretch out the festivities — stay in Singapore in December, then visit Hokkaido in January for an extended Christmas holiday. January is the best time for a winter holiday in Hokkaido as the temperatures are at its lowest — prime ski time!
Skiing in Japan
What’s more Christmassy than a holiday spent in a cozy ski resort high in the mountains?
Hilton Niseko Village Hotel
Hokkaido is replete with skiing opportunities, and greater Japan is one of the leading nations in the world for snow sports. In fact, there are more than 500 ski resorts peppering the country, giving skiers and snowboarders ample opportunities to hit the powder.
Take the Hilton Niseko Village Hotel, for example. Situated at the base of Niseko Annupuri Mountain, the hotel is a great jumping-off point for plenty of snow sport adventures. A gondola located directly next to the resort brings you up to the top of the mountain, making skiing and snowboarding incredibly convenient. After a day on the slopes, relax in the outdoor hot springs and take in panoramic views of the mountains. (Read our feature story on the Hilton Niseko Village hotel here)
For a boutique experience, consider the Chalet Ivy. This boutique hotel is located in Hirafu and offers a homey yet elegant experience at the base of the mountains. Skis and snowboards can be rented right from the hotel’s ski concierge, and an on-site restaurant and bar completes your luxurious experience.
Sapporo at Christmastime
If you prefer urban holiday decorations and jovial Christmas crowds to snowy mountainscapes, head into Sapporo to bask in the glow of the holiday.
Thanks to its designation as a sister city of Munich, Germany, Sapporo inherited the tradition of an annual German Christmas market. As designated sister city of Munich, Sapporo inherited the tradition of an annual German Christmas marketSince 2002, the market has been providing Sapporo locals as well as travellers with a host of festive vendors and stands that rival those of Munich. From spice stands to antique vendors to live performances, the market is animated focal point of Sapporo’s Christmas spirit. The market also features Japan’s version of the infamous biergartens of Germany: the Sapporo Beer Garden.
Speaking of Sapporo beer, few things get revellers into the holiday spirit more than a couple of pints of the good stuff. Warm up with a tour of the Sapporo brewery, where Japan’s most well-known and internationally distributed brews is manufactured. Admission is free and tours are offered at 10 and 11 a.m., and again at 1, 2, 3 and 4 p.m.
Can’t get enough? We’ve highlighted a few more places near Singapore with snow at Christmas time, so you can master your snowman building skills. (Just don’t ask Elsa.)