Winter vacations offer North Americans on the mainland two options: they can either get away from the elements by heading to warmer climates or they can either embrace the icy and snowy splendor of the season and find a spot to take advantage of everything Old Man Winter has to offer. Ski vacations are ideal for that, but if you really want to get into the vibe when the mercury drops, there's a spot in Japan that has your interests at heart.
Japan's northern island of Hokkaido is home to the Tomamu Ice Village, just more than 100 miles away from Sapporo, best known for hosting the 1972 Winter Olympics. And while the city has given up its bid to host the 2026 Winter Games, that decision shouldn't deprive folks of taking advantage of everything the ice village has to offer.
First, it helps if you're able to endure temperatures of -20 degrees Fahrenheit and still have a good time. A drinking vessel full of sake, also known as rice wine, is ideal to ward off those sub-zero demons. You can order that, or cocktails and beers galore when you belly up to the bar, which is made of solid ice. Suitably dubbed the Ice Bar, it's one of many amenities that are served cold.
You'll detect a similar theme throughout the complex as even your guest quarters are made of solid ice, save for the bedding and sheets comfortable enough to ensure bodily numbness doesn't become a factor during your stay. Other village attractions at this Japanese destination include a giant ice slide for the kiddies, an ice cafe that includes a library of books resting on shelves made of frozen water, and even a chapel created from the same natural substances, where you can nurture your spiritual side in an otherwise cold environment.
The ice village runs from December to March with admission set at $5 for a visit. Those adventurous enough to stay in the village can book overnight accommodations at slightly more than $200 a night per person. More squeamish tourists, however, can check into the nearby towers of the Hoshino Resort Tomamu, which are assuredly not created from ice.