Three meter high windows in the bathroom (Photo: Hoshino Resort / JT)

Hoshino Resort Tomamu

Closest Major Ski Resort to Sapporo Chitose Airport

Three meter high windows in the bathroom (Photo: Hoshino Resort / JT)
Bonson Lam   - 4 min read

I didn’t know why the windows in the bathroom were 3 meters high. Then I found out the next morning. The clouds were floating in the valley, framed by crisp pine trees and a hot air balloon in the distance. I am relaxing in a 3-meter spa, looking outside at the panoramic floor-to-ceiling windows. These high windows took in the morning in all its glory as if my eyes have been just lifted from a veil.

Would you like to wake up to a view like this? Even the children’s bedroom in this condominium-sized suite affords spectacular views of the valley.

In the beginning, God placed Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, it was so beautiful and complete, you never wanted to leave. Well, Tomamu resort is a bit like that. It is so spread out, like you are center stage in Nature’s amphitheater, playing and resting in peace and solitude. Indeed, one travel manager told me she wished she found this paradise ten years earlier, such was her affinity with the spirit of this land and its gentle people. It was like she found her second home, one that struck a chord with her soul, one that transcended language barriers and differences.

Relaxing at the outdoor infinity bath with nothing separating you and the verdant pine tree forests and mountains, it is really like being in the Garden of Eden. The soft pitter-patter of the rain dances on your head, while you slow down, taking the time to breathe in, and out.

Adam Liaw first revealed to us the beauty of Hokkaido in the series, Destination Flavour. And while Niseko is likened to an Australian Alpine Village, Tomamu is largely hidden from the radars of Australian or European travelers. Maybe for not much longer, as Adam’s favorite cheesecake is sold in Farm Design, part of the beach café at Minamina Beach, the largest indoor pool in Japan.

Actually, our chaperon Fuji-san from Tomamu Hotel tells me that the green or non-skiing seasons are the most popular time here, attracting families, singles, couples, and honeymooners with a variety of family, farm, wellness, and sports-related activities. After a few days here it is easy to lull yourself into some kind of bucolic slumber, the verdant meadows with gentle but well-fed sheep, dairy cows, and deer will make sure of that. Don’t be fooled though, there are enough activities to fill a month of Sundays. These include yoga on stand-up paddleboards, hot springs, wave pools, a library, and enclosed rooftop bars, and this is before you venture outside for cycling, rafting, and hot air balloons. In Autumn the Unkai or sea of clouds is a marvelous sight to see, with people waking up at 4 am to make the trek.

The resort restaurants also play homage to local cuisine and culture. Looking at the Ainu-inspired aprons at Sora, I can see that these symbols are more than just patterns of fashion or taste. They are about allegiances, of loyalty, of something bigger than ourselves. In a time of oral traditions, the symbols in these textiles are powerful reminders of what that society stood for.

This sense of purpose drives the professionalism of the staff here. They are also incredibly polite and genteel as if they all went to the same etiquette school that trained the staff at Japan Airlines or Takashimaya. Whenever I enter the lobby a chorus of staff would bow in unison to welcome me, like the opening time at a department store.

For a vegetarian option, look no further than the aptly named Green Kitchen, which lets local produce shine with their Basil Ratatouille and Corn Soup, and their Chocolate Terrine is a wonderful way to end a meal.

Bonson Lam

Bonson Lam @bonson.lam

I knew my future was destined to be with Japan the moment I flew from Sydney to experience the atmospheric laneways of Kyoto last century.  I am humbled to have met many distinguished people during this time, especially the national living treasures of Japan, such as the doll maker to the Imperia...