Niseko

Hiking opportunities abound here in Niseko and a great option suitable for the whole family is Hangetsuko or Half Moon Lake.
Camping opportunities in Hokkaido abound with fantastic campsites within an easy drive from Niseko.
Every season in Niseko offers something special, with cherry blossoms in the spring, festivals through the summer and the emotive colours of the Autumn. Summer is of course one of the best times.
Part 4 of our look at trips to the coast from Niseko looks at Bikuni, a small town on the eastern side of the Shakotan Peninsular. Via Nikki Bikuni is a 1.5 hour drive from Hirafu and is a great stop over on the way to popular destinations such as Kamui Misaki and the Shimamui Coast which we looked at in Part 3. It is also a slightly closer alternative summer destination if you don't feel like driving all the way to tip of the peninsular.
Last month we took a look the Toyoura / Okishi area to the south of Niseko and before this Kamoenai which is a stop on the way to the tip of the stunning Shakotan Peninsular. Shakotan is a fantastic place to visit well known for its crystal clear blue waters, delicious sea urchin, onsens, sunsets and much more. The trip is easily done in a day and from Hirafu can be approached from either the east or west side.
The Niseko Local Rules have been in place since 1999 and have helped to put Niseko on the map as one of the ultimate powder destinations in the world. The implementation of the rules were at the time of their inception ground breaking in Japan, opening up back country and off piste terrain that had previously been off limits. 
In the last look at the seaside adventures close to Niseko we headed north west to Kamoenai, this time around we head south west to the Toyoura District and the beaches around Okishi and Rebun. Here we are greeted by long sandy beaches and a sea speckled with sunshine and fishing buoys that mark the oyster and scallop farms stretching accross Uchiura Bay.
Sakura is the Japanese word for cherry blossom. You may heard this in the media recently because the people of Tokyo have not been able to attend the annual cherry blossom or Hanami celebrations due to Covid-19. Here in Hokkaido cherry blossom viewing and revelry comes later, this year it is forecast for April 20th but from around mid February there is another sought after sakura in Hokkaido too, the Sakura Masu or Cherry Salmon.
Have you ever seen the sun rise across Mt Yotei, Niseko's very own volcano? If you've visited the area the 1,898m snow covered peak is a pretty hard to miss! That said with the snow we get in Niseko it is not unusual for it to be in the clouds for weeks on end. Any avid skiers or boarders upon seeing Yotei for the first time can't help but wonder what it would be like to ski down it.
After a short fuel stop in town I continued on around the south side of Lake Toya, stopping only to take photos of active volcanic vents steaming from the top of Showa-Shinzan and other views of Lake Toya. The Eastern side of Toya has one of my favourite campsites in Hokkaido. The Nakatoya campground is a wonderful place to relax by the lakeside with a very convenient onsen located on site, and well stocked camp store.