Visiting the Ice Village in Hoshino Resort Tomamu
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Walt Disney once said, “When you’re curious, you find lots of interesting things to do.” I couldn’t agree more, In fact, I did a lot of firsts in Hokkaido including a stroll in a frozen village for more than an hour and ‘tbh’, I enjoyed every minute of it.
Have you ever wondered what’s it like to stay in an Igloo? Or at least once in our life, have you thought of living far away from home and staying someplace exotic? As far-fetched as that idea may seem, believe it or not, there is a resort in Hokkaido, Japan that has famous buildings made out of ice and is found in the Hoshino Resort Tomamu.
After visiting the Ikeda Wine Castle, we hopped on the bus and embarked on a 3-hour bus ride to Hoshino Resorts TOMAMU – the home of the famous Ice Village and Hotel.
About the Ice Village
Hoshino Resort Tomamu (hotel info) is a ski resort both adult and child can definitely enjoy. Whether you want to go here with your friends or your family, this is a place that has something unique to offer to you. This resort is actually known to be the grandest and most luxurious resorts in Hokkaido. There is a lot of things about this ski resort that makes it famous. It has an Ice Town during winter, restaurants that serve superb food, and breathtaking views from skyscraper towers. But what became the most known attraction here are their Ice chapel, Ice Hotel, and Ice Village.
Upon arriving in the resort, our first stop was at the Chapel on the Water. This architectural wonder was designed by Tadao Ando, a popular architect in Japan. Built in 1988, what makes this chapel unique is its simple yet impressive design. It has a concrete wall and a glass window facing a small lake. The chapel will leave you speechless because of the intricate design done with it. Its interior design is blended so well with the environment around it which makes it a remarkable place to see once in your lifetime.
During winter, the lake is frozen and the glass windows are kept close but it is normally being opened during spring, summer, and autumn. Regardless of the season, the chapel is often booked for weddings and special events. In the evening, the Chapel on the Water is lit up in the dark space.
The Magical Ice Village
It’s already dark when we arrived at the Ice Village. It was probably the coldest temperature I have ever experienced. The temperature at this Ice Town on a winter night can go as low as -30 degrees Celsius which is why you have to come prepared here. Bring all the winter outfits and items as you need to keep yourself warm. Do proper layering if you’re going to spend a day here or two.
The Ice Town literally looks like it just came out of the fantasy world built by Disney. The chapel, hotel, bar, café, and everything is built from ice. Ever since it was opened in 1988, the village just kept on evolving, including the ice street on the village which houses the domes and snow walls located all around it. It is such a unique place and although it’s extremely cold, I braved the freezing temperature since I don’t get to experience it that often anyway.
Depending on the weather, Ice Village is available to tourists from mid-December to mid-March in evening and night.
The Ice Hotel
Who knew winter trips could be this exciting? Other than the Ice Town, a place we were able to see is the Ice Hotel. Upon hearing about it, questions in my mind started to pop out; whether how do we sleep in the ice? Where is the bathroom located? However, I was really surprised at how they made a unique concept making this Ice Hotel an amazing accommodation.
The Ice Hotel is basically a dome made from ice. Believe it or not, but things like bed, chairs, and tables are also made from ice. Now I know what it’s like to be an Eskimo.
The igloo-shaped guest room is spanned up to 8.5 meters diameter and it is purely made from ice. The place is very peaceful and quiet. If you think your clothes aren’t giving you enough warmth, they have 50 different hot drinks here that you can try. And if you are wondering how can you sleep inside this freezing room, well, the hotel will provide a special sleeping bags that will keep you warm all night.
Right next to the Ice Hotel is the Arctic Bath. Just like the hotel, this outdoor hot bath is surrounded by ice. There is also a heated dressing room right next to it.
But the fun does not end there, walking on ice is a bit tiring (apart from being extremely cold). To make up for the tedious walk, we headed on our next stop which was at Forest Restaurant Nininupuri for a buffet dinner. As we entered the restaurant, I was amazed by the beauty of the interior. Its ceilings were high, has a wall to wall glass panels that provide a beautiful backdrop of the Pine forest.
The buffet spread was even more impressive. In fact, it appears like a culinary festival to me. The food selection they offer is amazing. All my favorite Japanese food was there, everything was cooked fresh and delicious. The buffet spread is so luxurious. I swear, it was the heaviest dinner I’ve had in Hokkaido.
After having dinner, our tour guide brought us to some shopping facilities in the resort complex. Although it was quite a long walk, I didn’t hear anybody complained as we need to burn calories from our dinner buffet.
After our resort tour, we hopped on the bus again for another 2-hour bus ride to Sapporo. We stayed at the Air Terminal Hotel in Sapporo (hotel info) to catch our early morning flight to Tokyo.
Up Next: Urban Adventures in Tokyo
Our Hokkaido Japan trip was made possible by Japan Airlines, JNTO (Japan National Tourism Organization) and Havas Media. Japan Airlines offers daily flights to Tokyo Haneda and Narita. From Tokyo, JAL also offers domestic flights to Sapporo, Hakodate, Obihiro, Ozora, Asahikawa, and Kushiro.
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