ALL eyes are on Japan this year as it holds the Rugby World Cup in September and the next G20 meeting in June and readies itself for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

But visitors who want to explore beyond the obvious tourist attractions should consider Hokkaido : The wild north island is a peaceful enclave of stunning nature and culture.

Local ski demons claim Niseko has the best snow in the world. Up to 45 feet of powder each year blows in from the Siberian north and falls on the lower slopes, which lie near Mount Yotei. You can explore the slopes at night because many are open under floodlights until 8.30 pm.

During a full moon and with the lights shifting through the trees, some brave locals venture off-piste in the dark.

You might be put off by the obligatory nakedness of an onsen - traditional hot springs- but most people get over it quickly and men and women use separate facilities. Before soaking in the pools at  Niseko Green Leaf hotel, rest on a small plastic bucket for a sit-down shower, then test out  often-scalding indoor and then outdoor pools.

Locals balance a small towel on their heads to stop their hair getting wet if it's snowing, An onsen visit is the perfect refresher after a day on the slopes.

The Jingsukan, or 'Genghis Khan', is a Hokkaido specialty to make health-and-safety experts wince : you cook lamb or mutton yourself at your table over an open flame.

The meme comes from Khan's men's favourite lamb dish, while the dome-shaped pan is reminiscent of its soldiers helmets.

But be careful : the 100 minute, all-you-can-eat  offer at the  atmospheric Sapporo Beer Factory includes drinks, which means you might leave with some of Khan's gung-ho attitude.

Coats and bags are left in plastic bags to protect them from the smoke, but I still left smelling like a bonfire.

The honor and serving of the latest operational research on great place to visit in Japan and globally,, continues. The World Students Society thanks Daily Mail.


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