Hokkaido onsen: stay, soak, ski, and eat

Food is a great reason to travel to Japan.  When I was talking to Peter about this trip deciding whether to come, one thing I really liked was their decision to stay in onsen (hot springs resorts) where breakfast and dinner were included.  Peter described the evening meals at these mountain retreats as “awesome multi-course experiences designed for the discerning Japanese tourist.”  Some foreigners come to Hokkaido just to ski, camping in the snow, staying in their van, whatever.  I’m not such a gung-ho skier, but skiing, exquisite Japanese meals, and hot springs every day, that’s a pretty great combination.

I even found a decent meal at the Chitose Airport in my jet-lagged stupor:

My first meal in Hokkaido -- at the Chitose Airport by bryandkeith on flickr

One of our evening meals at Goshiki Onsen looked this:

One person's dinner spread without showing the main course or the rice or the dessert by bryandkeith on flickr

That’s for one person not including the main course, rice, and dessert (fresh oranges).  This is what we’d come down to in the morning for breakfast:

Breakfast time at Goshiki Onsen by bryandkeith on flickr

For the second week of our trip we stayed six nights at Kamihoroso Onsen in the mountains above Kamifurano.  The meals were perhaps not quite as meticulously presented as at Goshiki Onsen, but we were never disappointed and, even with all the skiing, never hungry either.  That being said about the presentation, check out this salad from our first night at Kamihoroso Onsen:

DSC07158 by bryandkeith on flickr

The breakfasts were buffet, and I wish I had counted how many items there were in the buffet.  It had to be at least 50, maybe 100 (??).  Here’s a breakfast I put together one morning:

My breakfast (chosen from the buffet) one morning by bryandkeith on flickr

Here’s our whole group at dinner:

Our whole group: Todd, Galen, Bryan, Amy, Peter by bryandkeith on flickr

After the daily hot springs soak, most of us were too lazy to bother getting dressed.  Like the Japanese we showed up for dinner in our robes.

I’ve been friends with Peter and Amy for many years.  The other two (on the left in that photo) are Todd and Galen who, like Peter and Amy, also live in Anchorage.  Galen grew up in Japan and speaks and reads Japanese quite well.  It was so helpful to have her making phone calls and arranging accommodation for the nights that we hadn’t booked before arriving.  She ordered for us at restaurants and pointed out lots of cultural insights that we wouldn’t have otherwise learned.  Galen, Amy, and Peter had all skied together in Hokkaido previously.  Todd is an excellent, very strong skier and has traveled a lot, mostly for river running, it seemed.  It was his first trip to Japan.

Todd by bryandkeith on flickr

From Kamihoroso Onsen we skied one day at Sandan Yama and four days on Furano Dake.  Even though it didn’t snow much while we were there, the skiing seemed to get better every day.  And so it went, skiing, hot springs, eating.

DSC07261 by bryandkeith on flickr

DSC07258 by bryandkeith on flickr

DSC07293 by bryandkeith on flickr

DSC07231 by bryandkeith on flickr

DSC07247 by bryandkeith on flickr

Dinner, ready and waiting for us by bryandkeith on flickr

DSC07290 by bryandkeith on flickr

Dinner at Kamihoroso Onsen; the main course is not pictured by bryandkeith on flickr

DSC07217 by bryandkeith on flickr

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