This trip to Japan which started off in Niseko followed by Kyoto and Osaka is my first big trip in 2017. It is my first as we left on the first day of the new year, on January 1st at that! They say that is the best way to start the year rolling!
First stop : Niseko
We stayed at the newly opened condominium-hotel AYA Niseko. The hotel opened only in mid December 2016, so when we got there it was barely two weeks old and everything was spanking brand-new! The nice thing about AYA Niseko is that it is a ski-in, ski-out resort as it is located right on the Grand Hirafu Resort ski slope. Now this is very important if you plan to ski every single day in Niseko — which we did, so this hotel’s location proved to be quite practical and very convenient for us.
Every day we would wake up with this gorgeous view around us and we would see snow flakes coming down from our window with the imposing Mount Yotei in the background.
Niseko is surrounded by such natural beauty, and since January is a winter month, every where you look is just covered with thick white snow!
Niseko is known to have the most beautiful and finest kind of powder snow in this part of the world. No wonder this place is always packed with professional skiers, tourists and — at the time we were there, a lot of friends from Manila too were there on a holiday trip!
Another great thing about this place? You’ll never run out of things to do here, like this one I am about to do next : ride the snow mobile in Hanazono Ski Resort!
And we finally did it! We rode the snow mobile in tandem, as one family!
Thank goodness for this go-pro camera that captured this video. That’s me and my 9-year old boy in front of the camera driving through the thick snow and the beautiful white forest!
That was a fun and exhilarating ride I wouldn’t mind doing all over again!
With this snow mobile adventure, I faced my fears and conquered them! I showed my kids that their (spoiled) mummy here can be a daredevil too, ha ha ha!
Next on our agenda was the snow tube! I rode one snow tube with my little girl so we can slide down together! Snow tubing was also something I enjoyed (doable even by small kids and their scared mums), especially because I was more nervous than my little one!
Meanwhile, my two boys would always be on the ski slopes from day till night!
Aged 13 and 9, these two easily learned how to ski, without any professional instructors or lessons at all!
Meanwhile, my most unforgettable meal here in Niseko was our dinner at Asperges…
Asperges is the only restaurant with a 3-star Michelin chef (Nakamichi) in Niseko, who was also voted as best chef in Hokkaido. This restaurant is hard to book because they are open only during the winter months of December to March. Every dish that came out of the kitchen blew us away, and most notably this dessert. It was an amazingly light and crispy Mille Feuille with chantilly cream filling, and served with the freshest vanilla ice cream!
Food, ambience and service were truly exceptional, and I dare say this — they are even better than most of the top and highly-rated restaurants I’ve been to in Tokyo!
Next Stop : Kyoto
From Niseko, we made our way to Kyoto. We stayed at the new Four Seasons Kyoto (which is also newly opened, just in October 2016), a hotel that is set right in the heart of the 800-year old, 12th century Shakusuien Ikeniwa, or pond garden.
Because we had such fast-paced, high intensity daily activities in Niseko, we decided that this quick two-day trip to quiet and serene Kyoto is just what we needed…
So instead of packing our stay here with tourist sights and activities (this is our third time in the city and we’ve seen most of them), we decided to just chill and relax here instead.
And chill and relax we did…we enjoyed every minute of our stay here, that even our breakfasts looked too good to be true, prompting us not to leave our beds too early in the morning!
And lastly, here in Kyoto we had one of the best Kobe beef teppanyakis! We ate in a nice and quiet little restaurant in downtown called Mikaku, which I highly recommend. (Ask your concierge about it!)
Kyoto is one city that possesses such natural beauty and quiet elegance. This is the place to be if you want to enjoy nature at its finest.
Last stop : Osaka
Straight from Kyoto, we took a one-hour car ride to St. Regis Hotel in Osaka, quickly dropped off our bags in the lobby and ran to make it before the closing of Universal Studios Osaka — yes, eventhough it was raining heavily that day!
We were soaking wet and freezing cold due to a heavy downpour. It was also a windy winter afternoon (that turned into night) when we got there! But never mind I said, as long as I made my kids happy, then my mission is accomplished! (Don’t we all mummies feel this way most of the time ?!) This is especially true with my second boy who is the biggest 9-year old Harry Potter fan. He was living a dream when he finally walked inside Hogwarts (seen here in this photo right behind me)!
And finally, as we made our way out of Universal Studios Osaka, my little girl and I found this adorable pink cafe, as if tempting us to stay a little bit longer before finally heading home!
Three stops in three beautiful cities in Japan, with each a story to tell. It was surely one magical trip for my three kids and one unforgettable holiday for yours truly!