Long admired for its snow-blanketed peaks, glacier blue lakes and bubbling volcanic hot springs, the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido has in recent years also become a thriving cultural destination, enticing visitors with its local cuisine (the region produces some of the country’s finest seafood, beef, cheese, kombu and whisky), onsen resorts and efforts to honor the heritage of its Indigenous Ainu people. The most recent hotel addition, Hoshino Resorts’ KAI Poroto, which opened last month, is located on Hokkaido’s southwestern coast near the new Upopoy National Ainu Museum and Park. Guests of the ryokan hotel — which consists of 42 rooms that each look out onto Lake Poroto (poroto ko means “big lake” in the Ainu language) — can spend the day immersing themselves in Hokkaido’s Indigenous history through the museum’s various exhibitions, before returning to the resort for a dip at either of the two bathhouses — one of which features a ketunni (or “tripod-frame”) design — with their alkaline waters rich in humic and fulvic acids. For travelers hoping for a sportier trip, head northwest a couple of hours to Niseko and book a stay at Raku Suisan, an intimate ryokan at the foot of four of the town’s famed ski resorts. With views of Mount Yotei and Mount Annupuri, each of the hotel’s 18 rooms offers a private open-air hot-spring bath. Meanwhile, the private onsen baths at Grand Blissen Hotel in Jozankei, just an hour outside the city of Sapporo, overlook the surrounding Shikotsu-Toya National Park, a popular hiking destination. To refuel, head to downtown Sapporo, where you’ll find local urban fare at Sapporo Tsunagu Yokocho, an indoor market consisting of 15 izakaya-style restaurants that offer everything from sushi to fried octopus balls.
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