By Travel & Leisure
February 07, 2014

Head to Japan’s northernmost reaches for ski resorts, piping-hot ramen, and kitsch karaoke bars—and take your skincare to new altitudes with SK-II.

Surrounded by the Pacific Ocean, Sea of Japan, and Okhotsk, Japan’s northernmost island, Hokkaido, offers stylish ski resorts, authentic ramen joints, and therapeutic hot springs for unwinding après-ski. Hit the slopes in Niseko, a ski town dubbed the “St. Moritz of Japan,” about 2.5 hours north of the region’s capital Sapporo. Frequented by jet-setters hailing from Hong Kong to Australia, this under-the-radar, winter wonderland is famed for its Champagne powder, a high-quality snow resulting from low-pressure systems in Hokkaido meeting high-pressure systems from Siberia. In these Alpine-like conditions, keep your skin radiant and hydrated with SK-II.

Activity-Packed Morning

Located at the base of Mount An’nupuri, in what global snowhounds consider one of the world’s best ski destinations, the Green Leaf Niseko Village was revamped three years ago by New York-based interior designer Alexandra Champalimaud, with modern upgrades like a lobby bar featuring cowhide armchairs and murals by a local artist Emi Shiratori. Settle into a plush deluxe king room or expansive suite and take in the mountain-at-your-doorstep views; then hit the on-site Basecamp for equipment rentals, lockers, and all the gear you need to ski or snowboard. Beginners or out-of-practice skiers can also brush up with private lessons at the Niseko Village Snow School.

Après-Ski Detox

After working up an appetite on the slopes, warm up with steaming bowls of ultra-authentic noodles at Niseko Ramen Fuka, a casual joint where people line up for house specialties like potato ramen and corn-and-butter ramen. Wind down after lunch and spend the afternoon decompressing and soothing sore muscles at one of the area’s onsen natural hot springs, before grabbing a hot sake après-ski. After a day in the elements, you’ll also want to take care of your skin. Try a 15-minute SK-II Facial Treatment Mask drenched in Pitera™, a derivative of the sake fermentation process rich in amino acids, organic acids, proteins and other important skin nutrients, which you can easily use in your hotel room before heading out for the evening.

After-Dark Finds

For dinner, sample the local bounty from the surrounding sea, like briny, buttery oysters and snow crab legs, as well as local ingredients, like white asparagus grown under the snow in Kyowa-cho. After indulging, catch the night bus to Kutchan town about 15 minutes away for karaoke bars, like the Sound of Music-monikered Do Re Mi, perched in a space above a local supermarket, or Nozomi II featuring the best selection of English songs and the occasional bedazzled, pink-cowboy-hat-wearing bartender. Make sure to catch the last shuttle back to Green Leaf, and after a long day outdoors in low humidity, help skin renew with SK-II Facial Treatment Essence; it will help restore your skin’s moisture and balance pH for a healthy, glowing complexion.

Photo © iStock.