Why now: Japan's northernmost island has never been easier to visit thanks to a futuristic bullet train that now links its southern port city of Hakodate with Tokyo in just four hours.
What to see: Powdery white snow is the main attraction in this mountainous island, which contains 20 percent of the country's landmass but just 5 percent of its population. Skiers and snowboarders from across Asia flock to Hokkaido for both its top-notch resorts (like Rusutsu and Furano) and innumerable backcountry opportunities. Home to six major national parks — and dozens of hot spring bathing facilities — the forested island is equally enticing after the snow melts.
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