Insider Tip: Japan

Japanese macaques warm themselves in the onsens.

Japanese macaques warm themselves in the onsens.

It's a place where vending machines dispense fresh floral arrangements and lobster, and trains reach bullet speeds ... Japan.

These modern-day marvels are just the beginning of what Japan has to offer and having recently visited myself it's the natural beauty out of the cities that I really fell in love with.

I was based in Tokyo and for a day trip caught the shinkansen to Nagano to go skiing. Hakuba is the best-known mountain resort here, surrounded by a total of six ski areas, each are suitable for all types of skiers with a great range of runs.

Slightly less known is the nearby Ryuoo Ski Park in Yamanouchi. The mountain boasts incredible views from its peak - best reached via the Ryuoo Ropeway.

What Yamanouchi and its surrounding Shiga Highlands are perhaps best known for, however, are the colonies of adorable Japanese macaques from the nearby Jigokudani Monkey Park. These cute little critters spend the cold winter days splashing about in the hot springs, warming themselves in the natural outdoor onsens.

After my time in Tokyo I headed north, to Hokkaido's capital Sapporo. Held every year in February, the Sapporo Snow festival is a week-long event showing fabulous snow sculptures carved out of solid ice.

- Sam Park, Flight Centre Ferrymead

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