Experience Summer In Hokkaido
What is Hokkaido like in the summer? Having enjoyed Japan thoroughly in the epic case of Nozawa Ski Bunnies Vs Mama Bear, I’ve often wondered what there is to do outside of winter. Now that I’m in Hokkaido to explore Three Unique Luxury Homes By The Pavilions Residences, it’s the perfect time to find out.
The Ginto Residences, premium villas within The Pavilions Residences of Niseko, all command amazing views that beckon you to explore the great outdoors. Outside The Ginto Residences, the trail is lined with birch & oak trees, wild flowers flourish and Mount Yotei looms majestically.
A mere hour’s drive away are even more beautiful views, of the sea & volcanoes. Here are the best ways to experience them.
1. Kayak Around The Shakotan Peninsula
On the West coast of Hokkaido lies the rugged Shakotan Peninsula. We meet our guide at his store, Tokyu, and drive down together with our kayaks. Although I have handled a kayak before, I have only done so on lakes and reservoirs. Hence I feel a little nervous about kayaking in the open sea. The photographer accompanying me shoots for National Geographic and http://www.powderlife.com. I feel like telling him he’s photographing for Comedy Central because I’m certain I will be capsizing my kayak or executing some similarly goofy stunt.
Fortunately, the sea is calm. Consequently, there are no adverse incidents. After a few minutes, I am able to take my focus off my strokes and regard the beauty around me. As it is a clear day, I can see the rugged terrain of the peninsula for miles, in part covered with resplendent wild plants, in part unapologetic swathes of craggy rocks & mysterious caves. On the other hand, the sea itself is like a jewel box. Shades of emerald green & sapphire blue surround us. Where the sunlight glances off the waves, flashes of turquoise wink at us, like neon paraibas.
Subsequently, we stop for a refreshing swim in a lagoon and some lunch on the rocks. By the time we kayak back to shore, I am certain that this is defining impression of Hokkaido in the summer, that I will store away in my treasure box of memories.
Paddleboard Across Lake Toya
On the way from Chitose Airport in Sapporo, the capital of Hokkaido, I had read that the quintessential activity in Hokkaido in summer is Stand Up Paddleboarding. Now, if I was worried about kayaking in the sea for the first time, I was even more so about paddleboarding. This would be my first time on a paddleboard, let alone standing up on it. In fact, I initially declined to participate. But when I heard that it was the best way to experience Lake Toya, I put my fears aside.
As it turns out, my instructor from Rhythm is both kind & patient. In addition, the lake is extremely still. Consequently, I am able to stay dry throughout. Once I am able to navigate my way around the lake confidently, I start to enjoy myself. Lake Toya, a volcanic caldera lake, is almost circular. Incredibly picturesque, there is a little shrine at one end and an island in the middle, the Nakajima island. The water is clear & cool, inviting paddleboarders in for a refreshing swim.
After a calm morning on the lake, I explore the village nearby. Quaint cafes and shops selling jam & pottery line both sides of the man street. In an alley, we stumble across a tiny artisanal café, Anan Coffee. The young owner & barista, takes time to roast his own coffee and explain the various blends. I savour my coffee, grateful that I did not pass up on the opportunity to come experience Lake Toya and her charming surroundings.
Gourmet Lunch At Hokkaidian Homestead
Now if there is any way to experience a new place, it must surely be to eat one’s way through it. For this purpose, the Hokkaidian Homestead, nestled amongst farms in Date, overlooking Mount Usu, is perfect.
Although the owners, Ian & Noriko, tell us we have to cook our own lunch, in truth, it is Chef Bastien who does most of the work. This is quite a relief to me as I absolutely cannot cook. While Chef Bastien slaves away in the kitchen, Ian & Noriko invite us to sit in the porch and enjoy the view of the farms and volcanoes. As we savour the ham & melon, Ian entertains with hacks farmers use to grow the sweetest melons. Later, when we prepare our own bowls of seafood don, Ian also regales us with stories about our scallops, sea urchins, Hokkaido hairy crab and flounder. Everything we eat in that 4 hour luncheon is from Hokkaido. By the end of the meal, I have learnt so much about Hokkaido through preparing and eating the indulgent spread.
As George Bernard Shaw said, “There is no sincerer love than the love of food.” Indeed, if you love food as much as I do, you’ll love the experience at Hokkaidian Homestead. And that’s how you’ll fall in love with Hokkaido. I know I did!