Top Recommendations for December in Hokkaido vol. 1
Ending a Night Out with Shimé Parfait
It might seem surprising to anyone not from Hokkaido, but Sapporites enjoy frozen treats even on cold winter days.
We all know Hokkaido takes pride in its dairy products, but it’s the parfait craze creeping up in recent years is a little less well known. “Shimé Parfait,” which essentially translates to a “post-drinking parfait,” is eaten by people in Sapporo to round off a night of drinking regardless of the season. Shops that offer delectable parfaits topped with ice cream, seasonal fruits and chocolate have popped up all over Sapporo and have steadily gained nationwide popularity due to their colourful decorations, and their social media-worthy presentation.
With so many specialty shops offering this late-night delicacy, Sapporo is a paradise for the adventurous dessert lover. We hope your sweet-tooth is ready!
Sapporo Shime Parfait: https://sapporo-parfait.com/en/
More Hokkaido’s sweets: https://en.visit-hokkaido.jp/thingstodo/food/sweets/
A Winter Exclusive! The Ice Village in Tomamu
Every winter in Hokkaido, a magical ice village appears on the slopes of Mt. Tomamu.
An annual tradition since 1998, the Hoshino Resorts TOMAMU Ice Village has become a seasonal celebration of winter in a region where the temperatures can drop down to -30°C. As you walk around this paradise of ice, you’ll come across a bar, a cafe, a hotel, a chapel and 11 domes all made entirely of ice which draw tourists from all over the globe despite the frigid environment. One of the great parts of this resort is that they welcome both long stays and day trips. So why not envision yourself as a “villager,” and find your own pace by relaxing in the outdoor hot springs, watching the fireworks displays, or maybe even throwing a wedding ceremony in the Ice Chapel. The Ice Crystal Park and Ice Sweets Shop that open this year are not to be missed.
Hoshino Resorts TOMAMU Ice Village
Address: within Hoshino Resorts TOMAMU, Naka-Tomamu, Shimukappu Village, Yufutsu County, Hokkaido
Period: 10 December 2019 – 14 March 2020
Hours: 5:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Access: about 10 minutes from JR Tomamu Station by shuttle bus
This Winter, Get the Most Out of Your Stay in Tokachi
If you’re looking for a unique accommodation in Eastern Hokkaido this winter, Tokachi Sahoro Resort is for you.
With an near-endless list of activities such as snow-shoe trekking, ice-fishing, or going skiing on a total of 21 ski courses at 1,060 vertical meters, there’s enough activities to fill an entire winter season! When it’s time to kick back and relax, why not lounge in the hotel’s spacious group-friendly rooms,take a dip in the open-air baths, and go eat in the gourmet restaurant that features many Hokkaido-produced delicacies. The resort is also only a short ride away the famous sightseeing spots Furano and Obihiro.
Tokachi Sahoro Resort
Address: Karikachi Kogen, Shintoku Town, Kamikawa County, Hokkaido
Hours: varies with facilities
Access: about 1 hour from Obihiro City by car, or about 15 minutes from JR Shintoku Station by free shuttle bus (for hotel guests only)
Tour guide: http://en.visit-hokkaido2.jp/travelPlanner/details.php?code=6308003000092
The Treasure of Hokkaido Sweets Since 1958
Having trouble figuring out what to get as a souvenir of your Hokkaido trip? You can’t go wrong with a visit to the main store of Rokkatei in Obihiro, one of the most famous Hokkaido-based confectionery brands since 1958.
The flagship store in Obihiro opened in 1972 sells most of their most famous sweets like the “Marusei Butter Sandwich” (pictured above), Strawberry Chocolate and also offers winter-exclusive menu items in their cafe like “zenzai” (a sweet Adzuki red bean soup). The ground floor is the sweets and souvenir shop, while you can find a dining space on the second floor and the Kobundo Gallery on the third.
Rokkatei is a Hokkaido institution and it can only be found here in Hokkaido. You can also find these shops in Hakodate, Sapporo, and other major cities.
Rokkatei Obihiro Main Store
Address: 9-6 Nishi 2-jo Minami, Obihiro City, Hokkaido
Hours: 9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. (varies depending on the season)
Access: about 7 minutes from JR Obihiro Station on foot
The Illuminated slopes of Hakodate City
Hakodate is a city of churches and historical architecture and the winter brings a fairytale-like atmosphere to the city.
The “Hakodate Illumination,” on from December to February, is a magical event that lights up even the coldest winter night. Held in the Hachimanzaka, Nijukkenzaka, Kaiko-dori and Hakodate Station Square areas, the illuminations truly are a sight to behold. Walking down the Hachimanzaka slope, looking down at the twinkling port citys below, you’ll find yourself immersed in a postcard-like landscape. Be sure to capture this magical moment from the top of the slope!
Address: Motomachi, Hakodate City, Hokkaido
Period: usually from December to the end of February
Hours: After sunset – 10:00 p.m.
Access: about 20 minutes from JR Hakodate Station on foot
Hakodate Winter Festival: http://www.hakodate-illumination.com/
Tour guide: https://en.visit-hokkaido.jp/event/detail.php?id=145
Photo credit: Hakodate Event Guide (https://event.hakobura.jp/)
Asahiyama Zoo Penguin Walk
Penguin enthusiasts rejoice – cuddly penguins taking a walk are back this winter!
Parading penguins are the biggest winter attraction of “Asahiyama Zoo” in the city of Asahikawa. Conducted only during the snowy season, the “Penguin Walk,” which initially started for these little guys to get enough exercise, has gone viral among lovers of Hokkaido. To get an up-close look at the little birds marching through the walking course around the zoo, tourists wait in anticipation and gather on both sides of the route despite, braving the cold – cheers even arise for the little penguins waddling about in groups.
“Yuki Akari Zoo (Asahiyama Zoo by Snow Light)” takes place from early February. The zoo is lit up by ice candles and present visitors with a romantic nocturnal ambience where polar bears, snowy owls and red pandas await.
Address: Kuranuma, Higashi Asahikawa Town, Asahikawa City, Hokkaido
Operating hours: varies depending on the season
Penguin Walk schedule: usually from late-December to mid-March (depends on the snow condition)
Access: about 40 minutes from JR Asahikawa Station by Asahikawa Denkikido Bus
Note: Due to weather conditions, the Penguin Walk might be rescheduled in the morning.