The third leg of my trip around Japan was down to an area due south of Sapporo known as Lake Tōya which is known for being close to a valley of hot springs (Hell Valley as it's known colloquially) and what's described as an evening of fireworks set off from an island in the middle of the lake itself.
So we hopped in a rental car and took a scenic drive over there, stopping off at Jigoku-dani (Hell Valley) along the way to take in the sights and the smells (the smell of sulphur is not the most pleasant it turns out). On the way back from Hell Valley to the hotel in Toyaoko the weather really started to get heavy, rain and strong winds blowing but we made it back in the end and the rain eased off, but not the wind which caused them to cancel the fireworks festival which is what we came to see. Still the view over the temptestuous lake is a sight to behold and the howl of the wind through the ryokan is kinda cool. Although it meant I couldn't get any photos of the lake either really which was a pity.
After a good nights sleep, for some reason the weather helped rather then hindered, I was up early and tried out the onsen (hot springs) which at that time of the morning were pretty deserted luckily so I could worry less about the crazy levels of etiquette and concentrate on enjoying the spring itself which was nice.
From here we took a long drive over to the city of Asahikawa which ended up taking a lot out of the day due to the early sunsets, so we skipped the local zoo and it's penguin dance and made our way to a look out point up near the top of a nearby mountain, the weather by this point had taken quite a turn and it was snowing pretty hard which was quite cool, although slightly terrifying to be driving about in, luckily someone else in the group was driving for this leg of things.
After a bit of snow watching at the top of the mountain we made our way down to our next hotel, another Ryoken but a slightly more upmarket one this time, no shared bathrooms in this one. The Ryoken itself was a bit like a ski lodge from the 80's, with a buffet lunch and breakfast included and a giant onsen.
After an early night and late morning our group went down to Asahikawa station where we split into two groups. My group set off on the long trip down to Sendai, in the Myabi region of Honsu.