CNNGo in Hokkaido: Snow, onsen and 300+ beers

CNN StaffUpdated 17th February 2015
Editor's Note — This story, and several others on Hokkaido, complement the CNNGo TV series. See more of the show here: www.cnn.com/gotravel
(CNN) — Japan's northern island of Hokkaido is a winter paradise for lovers of snow, hot springs, seafood and beer.
This month CNNGo starts in the capital city Sapporo, where we'll see the snow-covered sculptural beauty of Moerenuma Park, then take in the best food and views in town.
We'll finish in the famous ski town of Niseko. Its pristine powder is the perfect landscape for hitting the slopes or a tranquil walk in the woods.
These are some of the top places on our list:
The Glass Pyramid in Moerenuma Park stores snow in winter for cooling in summer.
Moerenuma Park
What used to be a waste treatment plant has been transformed into a sculpture park designed by Japanese-American artist Isamu Noguchi, one of the most prominent sculptors of the 20th century.
The park was Noguchi's final project -- he passed away at the age of 82 before it was completed. It took 17 years to complete before opening to the public in 2005.
The park is now home to intriguing geometric landscape with design details.
In the winter, blankets of snow turn it into a playground for skiers and snow trekkers.
Moerenuma Park, Moerenuma-koen 1-1, Higashi-ku, Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan; Daily 7 a.m.-10 p.m. (entrance closed at 9 p.m.)
If the soothing onsen doesn't make them relax, there's always the view.
Niseko Konbu Onsen (Hotel Kanronomori)
After a long day of skiing, soaking sore muscles in a natural hot spring is the way to go.
The onsen at Hotel Kanronomori overlooks a forest for an ideal setting.
Hotel Kanronomori, 415 Niseko, Niseko-cho, Abuta-gun, Hokkaido, Japan; +81 136 58 3800
More than 300 hoppy gifts from the "Beer Santa."
Beer Inn Mugishutei
Owner Phred Kaufman has been living in Japan for more than 30 years and is now known by Sapporo locals as "Beer Santa."
His bar Beer Inn Mugishutei offers more than 300 beers as well as what he claims are the best burgers in Japan.
Kaufman's also a passionate gourmet, so it's worth paying his joint a visit not only for the beer but to get some great food recommendations.
Beer Inn Mugishutei, Onda Building, B1 S.9W.5, Chuo-ku, Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan; Daily 7 p.m.-3 a.m.
The minimal price makes the already delicious oysters even better.
Gotsubo
This closet-sized restaurant is definitely worth seeking out.
Hokkaido has some of the freshest seafood, and this is the place for incredibly cheap (less than $1) and delicious oysters.
The lucky guests get a seat inside, but eating here standing is not a bad option.
Additional kudos goes to the guy here who shucks the oysters barehanded.
Gotsubo, 4 Minami 6-jo Nishi, Chuo-ku, Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan
Snowcat skiing is the way to get down in Niseko.
Niseko Adventure Centre
This company offers plenty of snow activities, but the one to try is snowcat skiing.
Skiers get taken up in a tractor to the top of an old abandoned ski resort to enjoy some of the best powder on the planet.
For those who prefer something mellower, snow shoeing through the forest is another way to appreciate the beauty of the winter landscape.
Niseko Adventure Centre, 179-53 Yamada, Kutchan-cho, Abuta-gun, Hokkaido, Japan; +81 136 23 2093
Guests:
Toshiya Kubo, Sapporo International Film Festival
Sayuki, geisha
Phred Kaufman, owner, Mugishutei
Tomoki Takaku, snowboarder
Music:
"Napolitan Lemonade We Are Happy"
"Nantonaku Be Happy"
"Share"
"Infinity"
"Beige"
"July"
"Cold Breath"
"BOX"
"Loveless"
"Saigono Merry Christmas"
"2034"
"There is (always light)"
"Celebration"
"Where's Your House?"
"Yottafuri"
"Not Too Late"
"Classic"
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