Tomamu Resort Tower (Hokkaido, Japan)
We detoured to Tomamu from the route of ‘Sapporo – Noboribetsu – Niseko’. This detour costs us about an additional S$100+/pax! So what’s the big deal at Tomamu? I wanted to visit the ICE VILLAGE! Read about our ice village experience. First up, if you are planning to go Tomamu, this post will provide some useful information I was digging intently online before the visit.
Other than the ice village, people go to Tomamu to ski during winter, or to view the Unkai Terrace (Sea of Clouds) during summer.
Accommodation at Tomamu?
A lil’ background, the ice village is an initiative by the Hoshino hotel chain and Hoshino resorts pride itself for being a ski in and ski out resort. So it will be much more convenient to stay in one of the Hoshino resorts. Somewhere online mentioned about a smaller and cheaper home-stay hotel nearby with free shuttle to the ice village and skiing facilities at Hoshino Resorts. But we didn’t look into this option because it can be time-consuming to travel. We only had 1 day and 1 night at Tomamu, so we didn’t want to waste any time.
You can choose to stay in the more luxurious Risonare Tomamu or the relatively affordable Tomamu The Tower. We stayed in the latter and paid ¥23,000 (S$288) for one night in 28 February 2016. Be sure to reserve early! Even though there are many rooms at The Tower, they were booked out very fast during peak periods in winter.
You can book a room at www.snowtomamu.jp/summer/en/reserve.
While walking around the premise, we found another place called Hotel Alpha Tomamu – it’s old and run down – also operated by Hoshino. Not sure how you can book it though.
By the way, the two photos above were taken from our room. We were blown away by the room view we had. It was like woah! We spent the first 10 minutes taking photos of it. Hehe. The two towers you see in the picture is Risonare Tomamu.
Other than the view, the room and toilet are big for Japan’s standard. The hotel room had all the standard hotel amenities, and there was nothing else that was exceptional or memorable, though it was a bit run down.
How did to get from Tomamu JR station to The Tower?
We hiked our way! Just kidding~ :P The photo above was taken when we walked around the resort.
Once we arrived at the Tomamu JR station, the free shuttle bus (no need for reservations) was waiting to take us to the resort. Their shuttle bus timetable matches the train arrival timings.
I supposed all the people who alighted at the Tomamu JR station were staying in either The Tower or Risonnaire. So you get on the respective buses and you will reach your hotel after about 10 minutes bus ride in the snow.
Tomamu is about 60 minutes from New Chitose Airport and 82 minutes from Sapporo. We initially considered leaving Tomamu for the airport to catch our flight, but were afraid we might missed it. But when we were there, we knew people who planned it in such a way.
What to do during the day at Tomamu?
Most people ski and participate in snow activities, such as snow hiking, snowmobiling, snow rafting, etc. More details about Tomamu’s snow activities will be released in October.
Before we went, we were thinking of riding the snowmobile for 3 or 6km. It costs ¥2,600 (S$32) for 3km, ¥5,000 (S$62) for 6km, and ¥8,000 (S$100) for 10km. The ride should be over in less than 15 minutes. When we arrived, we didn’t have much time before the GAO outdoor center closed at 4pm, and we had to take the shuttle bus to reach the center. We were too tired to rush and hence we decided to save that money for good food or other purchases.
After settling down in our room, we went to walk around the premise. On both sides of The Tower resort are connecting walkways (sky walk and tube walk) linking you to other parts of Hoshino resort. The whole place reminded me of Resorts World Singapore, where different hotels under the same management are linked to each other.
Thankfully the walkways are fully covered to block off the chilly wind and snow. Even then, it was cold to walk inside. It got colder as the sky became darker. Oh, but there were doors at certain parts of the walkway, and that’s when snow managed to get into the tube!
There were photo opportunities everywhere. Also note that there’s a lot of static around the whole area.
We admired wood carving displays at certain parts of the walkway. Skillfully carved!
And if the beautiful cold snow is frost biting you too much and you need some warmth… or if your muscles are aching from skiing… get to minamina beach! Here is a heated indoor swimming pool for you to shed off layers of winter clothing! And there’s a big public bath for you to enjoy a good scrub and soak.
You can take the shuttle bus to this place, also part of Hoshino group. Many alighted at this stop and headed straight to the public bath. It’s free for resort guests and includes towel, last entry at 7pm.
After that, you’ll be ready to face the cold again!
Is there anything to eat at Tomamu?
Of course! From The Tower, we walked through the sky walk and reached Foresta mall, a cluster of restaurants. These options are relatively cheaper than the two buffet dining restaurants where guests have their complimentary breakfast/lunch.
None of the Foresta mall restaurant looked particularly delicious to us. So we ended up eating the cup noodles and tiramisu we got from The Tower’s convenience store for dinner. They were not too bad!
Tip for your planning: You can change the breakfast coupon for lunch.
Here is Tomamu’s restaurant guide for dinner:
For breakfast, you get to choose from 6 options with the majors one being Buffet Dining Hal, Forest Restaurant Nininupuri, or Restaurant Mikaku and Green Kitchen. Here is Tomamu’s restaurant guide for breakfast and lunch:
Based on my research and The Tower’s staff’s opinion, Forest has the best view while dining and a greater variety of dishes, but the food might not taste as nice. On the other hand, Dining Hal might score better in terms of food quality, with more seafood options available. We went for Dining Hal.
We regretted it. Dining Hal didn’t have a wide variety of food choices, and the food tasted average. Yes there was seafood, but not fantastic. Would suggest you go to Forest instead. Tell me if it’s good!
Nevertheless, Dining Hal has nice scenery too. We took this photo on the night we went Ice Village.
It was a totally a different scenery the next morning. See the huge icicle hanging by the roof’s edge in the picture below. Later we realised that this was unusual. The snowfall had gotten heavier through the night even though it shouldn’t be at this time of the season.
We didn’t know how serious that heavy snowfall meant for our travel plans until later in the journey, when we were about to leave Noboribetsu.
Leaving The Tower for Tomamu JR station?
It’s best to reserve a seat on the shuttle bus as soon as you can. When you check in, you can tell the receptionist the time of the JR train you are leaving in. At least the bus driver will look out for you. You should report at the hotel’s entrance about half an hour before the bus timetable. They will then help you to roll up your luggage to another bus and ferry to the station.
When we went out of the lobby to wait for the bus shuttle, we experienced a strong snowstorm for the first time. The snow was hitting hard on me and wind was strong. Thank God we visited the ice village the night before and not in this extra coldness.
Tomamu train station was also howling with snow and wind. Thank God we met an English speaking Japanese who told us to wait on the bus until it was nearer to the train timing, unlike some who were shivering in the cold. (p.s. The bus reaches the station much earlier than the train timing to avoid a rush.)
Then when we alighted, we had to cross the bridge for the train going back in Sapporo direction. He advised us to stay in the sheltered bridge. Soon after, the bus driver told him in Japanese that the train would be delayed. We made our way down when we saw the lights of the train. The others waited in the snow storm for about 15-20mins! Gasp!
Tip 1: Ask a Japanese if in doubt. You never know if they can translate the bus driver’s Japanese instructions for you.
Tip 2: If it’s heavy snow, get on the train first and then roll your luggage in the train to your cabin. There’s no need to drag your luggage along the platform in the snow.
Off to Noboribetsu via Minami-Chitose!
We took the JR train to Minami-Chitose and stopover for about an hour, and then continued our journey to Noboribetsu. At Minami-Chitose station, you can deposit your luggage while you go shopping at Rera, Chitose Outlet mall.
We didn’t deposit and it was quite a difficult walk with the luggage. It’s nearby, but not that near. The strong wind literally blew me away as I was pulling the luggage on icy ground! The outlet mall resembles those in US. I didn’t get anything though..
Also, read about our experience at Tomamu’s ice village. :)
So, what will you be doing at Tomamu? Do tell us below or on our Facebook Page or Instagram.
Related Posts: Overview Itinerary: Hokkaido and Tokyo (Winter/Spring 2016) Tomamu Ice Village Pocket Wifi or Prepaid SIM Card in Japan? 5 Food You Must Eat in Sapporo, Hokkaido
Travelled in February/March 2016
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