Tucked away from the hustle and bustle of Sapporo’s tourist traps is Jozankei Nature Village, an immaculately run winter wonderland. Staffed by experienced outdoor people, activities range from fully guided snowshoe tours, to outdoor wood-fired pizza cooking. For people unaccustomed to camping and outdoor activities in winter, an overnight trip to the Nature Park is a super affordable, safe option to a taste of Hokkaido’s winter outdoor scene.

pano

My wife and I, along with a relative visiting from New Zealand, recently stayed overnight in an immaculate yurt at the Jozankei Nature Village. The idea was to showcase Sapporo’s magical winter season to our relative, and the Nature Village did not disappoint. It was our first experience of the park in winter, and it lived up to expectations: extremely affordable accommodation and equipment hire, and a safe snowy forested area surrounding the park in which to explore.

 

On our first day, we hired snowshoes and did a self-guided tour around the park’s snowshoe trail. Lucky for us, fresh snow had fallen that day. Each step was met with minimal resistance as we glided across the surface of the powdery snow. The official trail only takes around 45 minutes to complete without any breaks. Off-trail sections, marked with bright tape can also be fun to explore for the more adventurous (check with park staff first for current avalanche conditions).

snowshoe

On the second day, we tried our hand at Nordic skiing. Nordic skis have a special coating on the bottom, which allow them to slide forwards, but not backwards, making walking easy, and the downhill sections even easier. We were out early, which allowed us to make the most of the crisp, dry morning snow. Despite not having any previous Nordic skiing experience, the skis were easy enough to get used to.

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Common sense might dictate nightfall to be time to curl up in the warm yurt. But on a clear night, keeping close to the lit-up park, and with a bright torch, a night time snowshoe jaunt through the quiet forest can also be beautiful.

 

Sapporo Jozankei Natural Village

 

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