The New Akan Hotel sits snugly next to Lake Akan in the Akan National Park. The lake itself is famous for its rare marimo balls of algae that form naturally here; in fact, this type of larvae is only found to form naturally in Japan, Estonia, Iceland and Scotland. The lake was formed some 6,000 years ago by volcanic activity, hence the rich sprinkling of hot spring resorts in the area. The waters of Akan have been popular since ancient times when they were frequented by Hokkaido's original inhabitants, the Ainu. The hot spring waters of Akan are said to be therapeutic for nerve pain and arthritis. The views in this area are astounding, a delicious blend of crystal lake and sharp, snow-covered mountain ranges - which goes a long way to explain why this area has been designated as a national park. In the photo above Mount Oakan can be seen in the background.
The Toya Sunpalace can be found on the banks of Lake Toya, a beautiful crystal-clear caldera lake - formed by the collapse of a volcano. The lake is some 10 kilometers in diameter, and hosts a number of onsen resorts on its shores. The Toya Sunpalace is a large, long-established hotel with 452 guest rooms, the majority of which proudly boast beautiful views of the lake.
As the name suggests, the Jozankei View Hotel is surrounded by wonderful scenery, and from its elevated position offers beautiful views in all directions as far as the eye can see. The surrounding scenery changes color and tone in a delightful pattern throughout the year. This has inspired the hotel to hold its own "4 seasons photo competition" in which entrants are invited to submit photos showing the hotel and its scenery in any one of its 4 seasonal colors.
It all started in 1950 with 6 snow sculptures made by local high school students. Now, the Sapporo Snow Festival is in its 64th year and has risen to the prestigious status of being an international festival. Pulling around 2 million visitors every year, with huge ice sculptures of landmark buildings like the Taj Mahal and statues of famous manga characters. The festival is split into 3 sites throughout Sapporo City: Odori, Tsudome and Susukino. Odori hosts the main section of the festival, with sculptures illuminated until 22:00. Tsudome features snow slides and mazes and is open 9:00-17:00. Susukino hosts an ice sculpture contest and is illuminated until midnight. The festival dates for 2013 are February 5th-11th, Sapporo is fairly cold at this time of year with temperatures of around minus 3 degrees Celcius with a good deal of snow.
Off to Hokkaido? Feeling peckish? Fear not - JAPANiCAN has scoured Hokkaido's snow-swept plains to find the top 5 hotels offering all-you-can-eat buffets! Before exploring Hokkaido's wonderful scenery, make sure you have a good breakfast!