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Sapporo (Hokkaido)

Japan's fifth-largest city, and the prefectural capital of Hokkaido, Sapporo is a surprisingly dynamic and cosmopolitan urban centre that pulses with energy. Designed by European and American architects in the late 19th century, Sapporo is shaped by its wide grid of tree-lined streets and ample public parks, which contribute to the city's surprising level of liveability. After a day of exploring the city you can get your energy back over a hot meal, a great proposition given Sapporo's wholly deserved gastronomic reputation. As the island's main access point and transport hub, Sapporo serves as an excellent base for striking out into the wilds. But make sure you leave enough time to see Sapporo itself. Sapporo is a major tourist destination in itself, especially for those partial to the delicious liquid gold that is Sapporo beer. If you're planning long periods of time hiking in isolation, you might want to first indulge in a bit of the raucous nightlife of the Susukino district. And, of course, if you come in February, don't miss out on the Sapporo Snow Festival (Yuki Matsuri), a winter carnival highlighted by frozen sculptures of everything from brown bears and tanuki (racoon dogs) to Godzilla and Doraemon.

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Scott and the team did an outstanding job in accommodating all of our requests. We were especially impressed with the arrangement of the Chinese-speaking tour gide, Kitagawa-san, and that he managed to book the best room at Arima hot springs resort, plus the microbrewery for sake in Kyoto, the Matsui Shuzo brewery. We had such a good time, especially as it was my parents' first time visiting Japan. They now like it so much they want to visit the country every year! The Arima hot springs was truly a once in a lifetime experience. Everything from the in-room kaiseki cuisine to the in-room soaking tub on the balcony and the views! We could not have asked for more. We would probably pick a cooler time to visit, which of course is not the fault of any agency! We would like to come at a different time such as April or March to experience the sakura blossom season, and so we can walk around and it wouldn't be so warm. We would also probably space out the major meals, such as the kobe beef lunch and the hot springs kaiseki meals, as we were super full after that day! Finally we would probably have spent more on the hotel rooms in Tokyo, the accommodations were neat and clean and the breakfast was great, alongside a great location, but the rooms were quite small even for Japan.... READ MORE

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