The northern island of Japan, Hokkaido, is a good time.
The food is great, the people are more easy-going, space is there for the taking - but it is cold. No two ways about it: the climate is like Minnesota.
For those of us from the mid-Atlantic region of the USA, this is another level of winter.
On a late December 2012 visit to Hokkaido for skiing, eating and drinking, and bathing, we tried to gauge the cycling scene on a short visit to Sapporo.
In mid-winter, it is alive.
In spite of several inches of hardened snow on most sidewalks, spotty plowing on the streets - the sound of taxi wheels spinning was the sound track of our visit - many young guys were out on mountain bikes.
The city is large, flat, and laid out on a grid. It is perfect for cycling.
However, with the temperatures in the teens (for non-Americans: about -10), we were surprised at the number of cyclists.
We doff our pampered caps to our northern brothers on two wheels.