<p class="MsoNormal">Hokkaido offers a seductive spectrum of <i>onsen</i>, or hot spring baths, with both lavish facilities in luxurious modern resorts and simple hot spring pools deep in the mountains. Every onsen-phile has their favorite, but two in particular appeal to me. If you like the idea of lounging in hot spring splendor looking directly onto a gorgeous lake, grab your tiny towel—remember, that’s all you’re allowed to bring into the bath!—and head for Marukoma Onsen Ryokan, located right on Lake Shikotsu in western Hokkaido. If views of greenery are more enticing, Yawaraginosato Hoheikyo Onsen, about an hour from Sapporo, is set among hills that are green in spring, summer, and fall and white with snow in winter. You’ll find three <i>rotenburo</i>—outdoor hot spring baths—all with exceptional views, and renowned for the mineral-rich spring water that flows in from the surrounding mountains.</p> <p><i>By Don George, <a href="https://twitter.com/don_george" target="_blank">@don_george</a></i></p>

Hot Spring Heaven

Hokkaido offers a seductive spectrum of onsen, or hot spring baths, with both lavish facilities in luxurious modern resorts and simple hot spring pools deep in the mountains. Every onsen-phile has their favorite, but two in particular appeal to me. If you like the idea of lounging in hot spring splendor looking directly onto a gorgeous lake, grab your tiny towel—remember, that’s all you’re allowed to bring into the bath!—and head for Marukoma Onsen Ryokan, located right on Lake Shikotsu in western Hokkaido. If views of greenery are more enticing, Yawaraginosato Hoheikyo Onsen, about an hour from Sapporo, is set among hills that are green in spring, summer, and fall and white with snow in winter. You’ll find three rotenburo—outdoor hot spring baths—all with exceptional views, and renowned for the mineral-rich spring water that flows in from the surrounding mountains.

By Don George, @don_george

Photograph by Iain Masterton, Alamy

Top 10: Things to Do in Hokkaido, Japan

Hokkaido is often considered by the Japanese to be the country’s last frontier. Unlike Japan’s other islands, it is a place of expansive vistas and untouched wilderness. While it’s the second largest of Japan’s islands, less than 5 percent of the population lives there, including most of the country’s remaining indigenous inhabitants, the Ainu. For foreign and Japanese travelers alike, Hokkaido offers an enticing range of riches that manifest a rarely seen side of Japan. Here are ten top things to do and see on the island.

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