5 good reasons your next family holiday destination should be Hokkaido, Japan

The Tomamu region on the Island of Hokkaido (northernmost of Japan’s four main islands) is the ideal destination for a summer family holiday. You will find the perfect activity for everyone. Here are 5 good reasons to book your airplane tickets now!

Sporty activity for family

1 – Children will enjoy discovering nature with its vegetation and summer fauna in the vast lush greenery and the fresh mountain air. The woods contain many activities for them to enjoy, including swing-sets and cabins. A lift has even been set up this year, offering a breath-taking view of the entire mountain.

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2  – The clear waters of the Sorachi river are the ideal playground for rafting enthusiasts. You will admire the fish and superb landscapes all around you as the current carries you down the river.

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3 – Golfers will enjoy playing their favourite sport on a huge course. This course offers the ideal conditions to share your favourite pastime with your children. And, even if they are too young, they can still come along with you on the green to spend time with you, comfortably seated in an electric golf car.

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4 – Hikers will walk the mountain paths and at the summit enjoy the morning view from the Unkai terrace, overlooking mountain peaks which appear to float on a voluptuous bed of clouds. Why not stay and enjoy a reinvigorating breakfast on top of the world before heading back down?

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5 – Hoshino Resorts Tomamu offers among its many amenities one of the largest wave pools in Japan. Your whole family will enjoy spending the day in the sun in a huge water park and then watching the spectacular atmospheric lighting at nightfall.

The ancient art of Japanese gardens

The art of Japanese gardens developed during the Heian period (794-1185), inspired by those drawn by Buddhist monks for their monasteries. Long after, “landscape” gardens, which constructed miniature versions of hills and artificial ponds, became very fashionable among the Japanese aristocracy.

HOSHINOYA Kyoto garden

From the 14th century, stones and sand appeared, a style brought by the Zen monks, which contributed to the elegance of these gardens, whose development continued during the Edo period, particularly in Edo and Kyoto. These gardens focused on replicating a piece of nature by recreating a pure as well as natural beauty.

Waterfall in the hotel

There are 3 main types of Japanese gardens: Tsukiyama, a replica of nature in miniature with hills, rivers, ponds, and waterfalls; Karesansui, reflecting Zen spirituality with simple gardens using stone and gravel to reproduce the movement of water; and Chaniwa, small-sized, sober and bare, right next door to tea houses, which replicate a natural and utter simplicity.

Zen natural spot in hotel

The Kenroku-En garden in the Ishikawa prefecture is often considered the most beautiful of Japanese gardens. It brings together the six key attributes of the ideal garden: spaciousness, seclusion, antiquity, panoramas, artifice, and waterways.

Hoshino Resorts KAI Kaga

Built at the beginning of the 17th century on just over 11 hectares, when you visit it you are first of all surprised by its expanse, but also by its impressive variety of landscapes and its 183 species of plants, which account for nearly 8000 trees. Located one hour drive away from Hoshino Resorts KAI Kaga this garden represents a must-see place to visit during your stay.

HOSHINOYA Tokyo, a unique new resort at the heart of the Japanese megalopolis

The building stands out in Otemachi, Tokyo’s business district with its surprising, singular appearance. A stone’s throw away from the Imperial Palace and its superb park, the façade of HOSHINOYA Tokyo’s new building is elegantly shrouded in intricate black metal lattice. In the spirit of Japanese discretion, the pattern of this metal shell surrounding the building is obscure from a distance but reveals itself upon approaching. This is where you will find the first echo of the country’s traditions and culture, in its replication of traditional kimono patterns.

HOSHINOYA Tokyo Entrance

In spite of its ultra-contemporary appearance, HOSHINOYA Tokyo provides the complete ryokan atmosphere in the very heart of the city. This 17-story building follows Japanese tradition, by immersing its guests in an authentic ryokan, complete with contemporary luxury and refinement. The small Japanese garden in the hotel courts sets the tone for the amount of thought put into every detail throughout the building. It is well worth paying attention to the tiling at the foot of the freshly-planted young trees. Each stone, carefully selected and individually set, is part of a perfect puzzle where no stone touches another. How much patience and skill it must have taken to master such an exercise!

Luxury hotel entrance

Your breath will be taken away from the moment you first step through the door – indeed, it is impossible not to be in awe of this long foyer that opens with a huge door carved of solid wood, both sober and majestic. Such pure lines, such beautiful craftsmanship, such an atmosphere… The dominant stone and wood work evoke a place where nature is everywhere. And yet, at this point, the mystery still remains.

HOSHINOYA Tokyo desk

The reception on the second floor plays on a trompe l’œil effect. Its counter appears to magically float above the console it rests upon. This large curved pebble, with its pearly ochre tones, is a reference to the art of Japanese lacquer. The ceiling’s design is another nod to tradition, as it is reminiscent of origami. This remarkable piece was imagined by the designer Rie Azuma, who had previously showcased her work in the first four HOSHINOYA of the Hoshino Resorts Group. The designer brilliantly created the first urban ryokan for the 21st century in this unique masterpiece.

HOSHINOYA Tokyo Guestroom

After signing in, the time has come to discover your bedroom. In keeping with the rest of the establishment, it combines the ryokan tradition with modern comfort. You will even find a television, though it is discreetly hidden away behind a mirror. The most surprising and delightful part of the experience is the atmosphere throughout the building, with plays on lighting filtered through the rice-paper shoji sliding doors, giving the rooms a warm and relaxing feel.

OCHANOMA Lounge

You will feel comfortable from the very first moments and want to settle here for at least a few days to enjoy Tokyo in all its constant effervescence as well as the hotel. HOSHINOYA Tokyo has come up with the innovative idea of offering a living space for each floor instead of a hotel lounge. These welcoming living rooms are shared between the rooms of each floor, and are a place where all can come to relax, find refreshments, drink tea, enjoy a glass of sake, work, or enjoy spending time in one another’s company.

Completing the spirit of the place and in keeping with the full tradition, an onsen, a Japanese bath, sourced with a natural hot spring 1000 metres underneath the hotel, is available on the 17th floor, including an indoor and outdoor, open air bath, combining the tranquility of the hotel and the bustle of the city.

Hot spring public bath

HOSHINOYA Tokyo also offers fine dining in its own restaurant, run by an internationally-renowned chef. You will be surprised by the fun and innovative tableware and dishware, entirely designed by skilfull artists. You can discover this cuisine in the main dining hall or in one of the six private dining rooms for 2 to 4 people.

This exceptional accomodation is one-of-a-kind in Tokyo, and combines many wonderful amenities. There is no doubt that the experience will soon be coveted by everyone in Tokyo as well as by tourists wishing to find refined and exceptional experiences.

Are Geikos what we really think they are?

The term geiko means “a performer of the arts” – gei, meaning an artistic skill and ko, meaning children. According to one theory, these women, whose profession appeared in the 17th century, were only recognised in the 18th century by Shogun Tokugawa’s decree, which officially registered their profession. Although their number is decreasing, the geikos who are still working remain mysterious to us. The question is: What do these women, whose profession continues with the utmost discretion attached to their role, really do?

Geiko in Kyoto

Geisha accessories

Being a geiko is a demanding profession and the path to achieving excellence is long. First of all, the maiko – apprentice geikos – are young women who must learn all the rules of etiquette, behaviour in society, the gestures to adopt, the clothes, the make-up, but above all, they must be very learned. Maiko work on their art from a very young age; they must know how to sing, dance, and play an instrument, know the tea ceremony perfectly, and even master flower arranging (Ikebana).

Geiko ritual objetcs

The role of these women with red lips and faces whitened by rice powder is primarily to entertain. They receive clients who have come to seek pleasant company in private salons called ochaya. Geikos also officiate at banquets and meals for businessmen, where they are in charge of the service and entertainment during the meal. Mainly concentrated in the Gion area in Kyoto, you can try to spot them during your stay at HOSHINOYA Kyoto. Some are willing to be photographed, but it is better to respect the grace and beauty of these women who still continue with one of Japan’s oldest traditions with the utmost discretion.

HOSHINOYA Kyoto room

The tomato, a fruit-vegetable that is key to Japanese well-being

The Japanese are extremely health-conscious. Vegetables make up a large part of their diet and they pay very close attention to production methods, which are increasingly organic. Tomatoes are their choice vegetable of the summer. Their ribbed textures and generous shapes, the many different varieties available, and the refreshment they bring – which is just one of their many benefits – make them the star of the summer.

Tomatoes in Japan

While it is not clear whether they should be considered fruits or vegetables, one thing is certain: their plump shape is pleasing to the eye and their delicate taste is pleasing to the palate. Of the Solanaceae genus, dubbed pomma dora – “the love apple” – in Italy, the tomato has recently been liberated from its traditional red and round shape, both in Japan and worldwide, adding many new colours to its wardrobe. Tomatoes now come in many colourful variations – yellow, orange, green, and black, with monikers such as Pineapple, Green Zebra, and Black Krim – all of which are excellent for our health.

Though the tomato was considered poisonous until the 16th century, due to its resemblance to mandrakes, it not only graces our stalls, but promises excellent health benefits. For instance, have you heard of lycopene, the carotenoid that gives the tomato its vibrant colour? Our body transforms it into Vitamin A, an essential antioxidant. To fully absorb the benefits of tomatoes, you can eat them a drizzle of olive oil or drink their juice – the perfect refreshment on hot summer days.

Hoshino Resorts Utoco exterior

Relaxing spa moment

Hoshino Resorts UTOCO Auberge and Spa, located in Kochi Prefecture, southwest of Japan’s main island Honshu, is well-aware of the benefits of tomatoes, especially on the skin and has responded to popular demand – especially from their female guests – by creating a program centered on tomatoes. To get the most out of its health benefits, they have prepared an almost entirely tomato-centric offer you can enjoy as a couple during your stay.

Tomato ice cream flavor

On the evening of your arrival, your dinner menu is built around tomatoes, and your breakfast the next day includes a cherry tomato salad. Deliciously refreshing tomato juice is served an appetizer before lunch. You will receive a tomato seed oil face and body spa treatment and enjoy tomato syrup poured over crushed ice in the afternoon. The benefits of this experience will turn you into a tomato aficionado!

Fireworks: a summer show you will not want to miss in Japan

Fireworks made their first appearance in Japan all the way back at the end of the 17th century. Legend holds that they originated when a shogun thought up a show to entertain the population, averting the bubbling revolution in a context of economic crisis and famine. But it is also said that fireworks hold the power to ward off demons and keep evil spirits at bay… Whatever the truth may be, the beauty of the show is all that matters now and crowds of Japanese people wait for hours to admire the magic of pyrotechnics.

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Hundreds of fireworks shows are put on every weekend throughout the summer in all 47 Prefectures of the archipelago. Ten of them are especially well-known, such as the Sumida river fireworks in Tokyo, which has one of the longest histories and is among the most acclaimed. 20,000 rockets are shot, some of which expand to over 400 meters across in the sky. Fireworks generate so much enthusiasm that competitions are held, like the one in Omagari in Akita Prefecture or Tsuchiura in Ibaraki Prefecture.

Firework in Japan

Watching a fireworks show in Japan is a unique experience. The Japanese word for fireworks is hanabi, which combines the letters for flower and fire. Find the perfect spot well before nightfall and pack food and drinks for a convivial experience. As soon as the show begins you will realize that your past experiences pale in comparison to the extraordinary Japanese fireworks.

These Japanese shows last an hour and a half on average and the grand finale is sure to be memorable. The colours, the bouquets of flowers etched in the sky, the magic and intensity of the fireworks… The final rockets launched can sometimes spread out over a distance of 2 km. This is hard to imagine in the West. The charming Atami seaside resort, an hour and a half drive from Tokyo, boasts one of the top 20 fireworks shows in the country. Hoshino Resorts RISONARE Atami, perched atop a stone peak, offers a breathtaking view on the city’s pyrotechnic show. Experience this magical moment in time with your family.

Hoshino Resorts KAI Atami restaurant room
Hotel buffet

Japan, land of celebration

While carnivals are common throughout Europe, Japan celebrates more than 300 events every year. You will find all kinds of processions, jousting, and parades – many opportunities to take to the streets, party, and let loose, all the while following tradition.

Japanese carnival girls

The Japanese call these celebrations Matsuri, from the verb matsuru, meaning “to worship”. They punctuate the passing of time throughout the year in Japan. While Shintoism is the most commonly practiced religion and a strong presence in the more ancient holidays, Buddhism also brings a lot of celebrations, with carnival-like atmosphere, especially during Obon which honors the spirits of the deceased.

Matsuri celebration idea

You will undoubtedly be charmed by the cheerful crowds drawn together with excitement, dancing and music, by the huge colourful parades filling city streets and country villages alike. With their campfire atmospheres, their costumed dancers and polyphonic singing, these extravagant festivals draw crowds from the other end of the archipelago.

Hoshino Resorts Aomoriya

The Aomori Nebuta Matsuri in the Tohoku region is one of the four largest festivals in Aomori Prefecture located Nothern Honshu Island, and is one of the most popular as well. People travel from all over Japan to watch the floats honouring the samurai. Hoshino Resorts Aomoriya offers access to the city in about 1 hour, where you will be in awe of the giant figures on parade, which are lit from the inside and depict historical figures and events, warriors, birds, and animals.

Light festival in japan

These impressive figures are created from paper stretched over bamboo structures. The “haneto” dancers rhythmically swirling around the figures to the beat of drums and local music are even more spectacular. The contagious energy of the show will leave you spellbound.

Lanterns: the Japanese ancestors of electric lamps

Travelers lit their way with lanterns during the Edo period (1603-1867) in Japan. The ancestors of electric lamps, lanterns became decorative objects over time, though they are also still used today in rituals and a part of folklore. Lanterns continue to immediately conjure an image of Japan, a symbol of the land of the rising sun.

Handcrafted lantern design

Lanterns can mainly be categorized in four types: the word Tōrō is a general name covering all lanterns made of stone, bronze, iron, wood or any other kind of material. These are used to light temples, sanctuaries and gardens. The wooden, bamboo or metallic skeletons of Andon lanterns are covered in paper which protects the flame from gusts of wind; they are lit by a cotton wick in oil. The hexagonal Bonbori paper lanterns may be suspended by a string or set atop a post. The most emblematic of all are Chōchin lanterns, easily-recognisable by their spiralling bamboo structures and the calligraphy that often decorates them. They can conveniently be folded up into the small basket at the bottom. They can be suspended by the hook on top, often at the entrance of temples. Red lanterns, “akachōchin”, are suspended in front of sake bars (isakaya) in Japanese cities.

Japanese paper lanterns

Paper lanterns in Japanse Hotel garden

Chōchin lanterns light up the castle of Odawara in the Kanagawa Prefecture, near Tokyo, every year during a folk festival. Hoshino Resorts KAI Hakone honours this ancestral tradition by illuminating its gardens all summer long with lanterns made by Isamu Yamazaki, one of the few local craftsmen who continue to practice this art. He also is the creator of the giant lantern hanging at Odawara train station which you may spot when you arrive in the area.

Swimming pool lanterns

Nikko park in Japan: an ideal spot for stargazing

Nikkō National Park located on Japan’s main island – Honshū – is considered to be one of the most beautiful parks in the country. It is also the only one to span over more than 3 prefectures: Tochigi, Gunma and Fukushima. The Oku-nikko region is renowned for being the best spot for observing the sky.

Mountain and lake view in Japan

It is a marvellous place for all stargazers and starlovers, because the site is equipped here with telescopes that can be connected to your smartphone. Therefore, this technology will allow you to record these moments forever in your photo library.

Luxury hotel room with panoramic view in Japan

However, the Nikkō region has other advantages! It is a place to focus on during the summer for those looking for moderate temperatures. The altitude – 1300 metres – provides some freshness and ensures the body  does not overheat when the mercury rises above 30°. Lake Chūzenji is nearby and also an area to visit during the summer. Situated at the foot of Mount Nantai, it is popular with the Japanese, because it is one of the few natural lakes at this altitude and it has a direct view of the mountains.

Beach summer in Japan

Hoshino Resorts KAI Nikkō is a perfect place to enjoy this sublime region. This cosy resort with only 33 rooms has a breathtaking view of the lake and Mount Nantai, and allows guests to take full advantage of the bountiful nature, inviting you to go on long walks conducive to calm and chilling out. The absolute must and very fashionable thing to do when on the premises: indulge in a foot bath on returning from your walk, facing the lake, while enjoying the delicious crushed lemon or raspberry-flavoured ices – produced in the region – which the Japanese delight in during the summer.

Japanse traditional Ice cream

Take our Private Immersive Tour to Discover HOSHINOYA Taketomi Island in Okinawa

Just a fifteen-minute boat ride from the Ishigaki ferry terminal will carry you to Taketomi Island. The hotel’s shuttle will greet you from the moment you step off the ship. The main road quickly gives way to a narrow, mysterious path that may disorient you, but be patient. Your destination will soon become clear…

Japanese luxury Taketomijima Ryokan

After a few hundred metres, the shuttle takes a right turn onto the path leading to HOSHINOYA Taketomi Island. At first you will not see much more than two rooftops covered in thick red tile. After checking in at the hotel lobby, you will follow your guide to your villa, surrounded by your very own paradise on earth, a place where time stands still.

Veranda design in Japanese style on Taketomijima

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You will first be impressed by the tranquillity and authenticity of this village of 48 villas that are built just like the typical houses on the island, conferring HOSHINOYA Taketomi Island its charm. Taketomi Island in Okinawa Prefecture is an unspoilt place, preserved by building no new homes in the past fifty years. Only existing houses remain and are preserved in the local tradition: built of wood with large bay windows and the thick red roof tiles that are so characteristic of the island.

Luxury Japanese bathroom

While the villas are identical, you will have a choice between two styles of interior design. The first is traditional, in the style of ryokans, with their tatami-covered floors and futon beds, whereas the second is more Western with a shower, bathtub, modern beds, and tatamis only in the bedrooms. Regardless of your choice, each villa is decorated with the sophistication and clean lines characteristic of Japanese style, with dark wood furniture and couches inviting you to total relaxation.

Wander the small winding alleys of this charming village, breathe in the pure air and absorb its unique atmosphere. Take a look around, lift your eyes and you will meet Shisa. This ubiquitous figure will catch your eye immediately. The miniature lion’s menacing demeanour is not intended to scare you, but to protect you by warding off evil spirits.

Swimming pool on Taketomi Island

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The viewing point on the heights of the Resort is the perfect place for summer traditional fireworks contemplation. You will be surrounded by the village on one side and the ocean on the other. You can swim laps or splash around with your children in the huge swimming pool that is almost as large as an Olympic pool, or simply lie down and relax in one of its shallow ends as the water caresses your skin. You will also appreciate the privacy afforded by the pretty blooming bushes surrounding the pool.

French cuisine in Japan

You can relax in the lounge next to the swimming pool, which offers hot drinks, refreshments and all kinds of snacks around the clock. This living space also offers a variety of workshops and entertainment. The Resort takes pride in supporting local craftsmanship.

Sanshin Japanese instrument

Guests can try their hand at artisanal crafts such as wickerwork, or enjoy a daily music and song show during which a local musician will introduce you to the traditional instrument from Okinawa, the sanshin, which resembles a 3-string banjo.

French gastronomy by Tatsurou Nakasu

HOSHINOYA Taketomi Island offers a wide variety of activities to make your stay a rich and fulfilling one. At the end of the day, you can watch the sunset on the eastern coast of the island, which magically transforms the beach into an otherworldly landscape. Afterwards, savour your dinner at the hotel’s restaurant.

The chef, Tatsuo Nakasu is prodigious, creating dishes à la française from local products. His bamboo shoots dish with abalones and garlic butter is an homage to Burgundy cuisine. Each of his dishes, from appetizers to dessert artfully combines finesse and balance. Complete your meal with one of the wines on the menu. The kind attentions of the service staff will make your stay an exceptional experience.