World's Greatest Places 2021
An onsen-style soaking tub at the Higashiyama Niseko Village, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve hotel, on the island of Hokkaido in Japan.
Courtesy Aaron Jamieson—Ritz-Carlton
July 20, 2021 6:35 AM EDT

The northernmost Japanese island of Hokkaido is one of the archipelago’s largest, least populous and most magical. Following the opening of the Ritz-Carlton Reserve in Niseko late last year, new hotels like the Hoshino Resorts Kai Poroto and Aman Niseko are slated to follow suit in the next two years, catering to an increasing number of winter-sports enthusiasts. But there are attractions for culture and history buffs too. The recently opened Upopoy National Ainu Museum and Park, dedicated to the local Indigenous Ainu people, features exhibitions and traditional performances. Although the region continues to grow as an outdoor winter playground for skiing and snowboarding, more warm-weather adventures are popping up: the first treetop trekking facility in eastern Hokkaido opened last year, while a new 140-km circuit looping around Sapporo is in the works. —Michelle Tchea

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