Hokkaido’s seasonal kaleidoscope: blossoms in the spring, rich greens in the summer, crimson and carmine of the autumn and a world of white in the winter makes the island a perfect destination any time of the year, and it reminds us of the captivating power of the mother nature.
Soaking in Japan’s institutional hot springs – onsen – is a highly popular choice for visitors from far and wide. It is said that there are more than 3000 onsens to choose from in Japan, making the choice, not at all an easy one to make. For a worldly traveller, choosing a great Japanese style inn known as ryokan with private onsens, to combine the ultimate bathing experience with the epitome of Japanese hospitality for supreme comfort might be the answer. Noboribetsu in the Dōou area have been known as some of the best hot spring resorts in Japan, and Takinoya a long-established ryokan with 105 years of history is a favourite choice. Nestled in the natural splendour, Takinoya boasts four different types of spring water each offering different kinds of balneotherapy and a culinary experience to match the expectation of global gourmands. Noriko Suga, the third generation of proprietors ensures the highest of Japanese hospitality is on offer at her establishment. “The inn was refurbished 13 years ago to reflect the needs of our guests: reducing the number of guestrooms from 60 to 30, 12 of which with private open-air bath. We are very grateful that we have many repeat customers” she proudly says and rightfully so. The interiors of Takinoya have the best of both worlds: a tranquil zen setting equipped with western interiors adding to its sophistication – and there is nothing more rejuvenating than being immersed in a mineral-rich outdoor bath while surrounded by a spectacular landscape.
Another quaint scenery of the region is at the facilities of Northern Farm, a world-famous stable that made its name for record-breaking ‘thoroughbred’ racing horses including Deep Impact and Duramente. The 2300ha ranch, housing 3000 horses under the care of capable 800 staff prepares for select sale to the critical eyes of 1500 buyers in the month of July every year. “Our buyers come from everywhere – Europe, Australia, Qatar, Singapore, Hong Kong, the U.S. – all to scout horses that could bring them great wins, like our Yoshida, SatonoCrown, Diadora or Love’s Only You have done for our races abroad,” says Yoshikazu Namiki, secretary-general of the farm. The pandemic has dramatically reduced such annual gatherings, but they do occasionally arrange exclusive ones. Magnificent horses with immeasurable potentials dashing through the vast plain of Hokkaido would certainly be a sight to remember.
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Visit our Hokkaido Guide to read about the special experiences this region in Japan has to offer.