Hokkaido - Great Outdoors, Skiing, and Food in Japan's Northernmost Region
Hokkaido is known for its magnificent landscapes of untamed nature, ski resorts with powder snow, and fresh seafood and vegetables. Located at the northernmost point of Japan, this region enjoys gentle breezes in the summer and beautiful snowscapes in the winter. Hokkaido attracts visitors from both within and outside of Japan throughout the year.
In order for you to enjoy Hokkaido to the fullest, in this article we'll be introducing everything you need to know about this region, such as how to reach Hokkaido, things to do in Hokkaido, and information on local food specialties.
1. How To Travel From Tokyo To Hokkaido
2. Transportation In Hokkaido
3. Hokkaido Area Guide
4. Niseko - Enjoy Skiing On Powder Snow
5. Hakodate - Points of Interest
6. Sapporo and Jozankei Onsen
7. Noboribetsu - Points of Interest
8. Asahikawa, Furano and Biei
9. Akan and Lake Mashu
10. Shiretoko and Tokachi
11. Food In Hokkaido
12. Events In Hokkaido
13. Weather And What To Wear In Hokkaido
14. Sakura, Autumn Leaves and Snow in Hokkaido
15. Hokkaido Souvenirs
How To Travel From Tokyo To Hokkaido
When heading from Tokyo to Hokkaido by plane, you will be able to reach major airports in about an hour and a half. Hokkaido is the largest prefecture in Japan, so the airport you will be using may differ depending on where in Hokkaido you're planning to visit. Be sure to check your trip plans before booking a flight ticket so you won't have to lose time after arriving in Hokkaido.
For Hakodate: Hakodate Airport
The city of Hakodate boasts Mt. Hakodate, a mountain that is famous for its nightscape, which is counted as one of the World's Top Three Night Views. It is also known for Jigokudani Monkey Park, where monkeys can be seen bathing in hot springs. Hakodate is a region located in the southern area of Hokkaido. You will want to use Hakodate Airport to conveniently reach here. We recommend using the shuttle bus that will take you into the city area from the airport (about 9 kilometers).
Hakodate Airport - How To Get To Hakodate City From The Airport
For Sapporo and Otaru: New Chitose Airport (Shin Chitose Airport)
Sapporo is the center of Hokkaido's economics, politics, and food culture. The Otaru area is known for its preserved retro townscape, perfect for a date. When visiting these cities, you will want to get a flight for New Chitose Airport (Shin Chitose Airport). You can reach the center of Sapporo from the airport by train, and it should take you about 40 minutes. If you ride an express bus, it will take you approximately 80 minutes.
Heading from the airport to Otaru by bus requires transferring to a different bus in Sapporo, so we recommend using the JR Rapid Airport Express. The train ride will take you there in about 75 minutes. The fare is 1,780 yen.
For those seeking private transportation, taxi service for around 18,000 yen. This option is ideal for families or those with larger groups of up to eight.
New Chitose Airport - How To Get To Sapporo City From The Airport
For Furano: Asahikawa Airport
Furano, located in the center of Hokkaido, is famous for its beautiful natural landscapes, often appearing in movies and TV shows. Tourists from all over the country gather here annually in July to have a look at the magnificent lavender garden. If you're headed to Furano from Tokyo, you'll want to use Asahikawa Airport. You can ride the Furano Bus (Lavender) to reach Furano Station in about an hour. The fare is 770 yen.
International Flights: New Chitose Airport
New Chitose Airport (Shin Chitose Airport) boasts many international airlines. From here, you can reach Seoul in about 2 hours and 45 minutes, Taipei in 3 hours and 50 minutes, Hong Kong in 4 hours and 50 minutes, Shanghai in 3 hours and 45 minutes, and Guam in 4 hours and 40 minutes. There are routes that fly every day and others that don't, so you should be careful when planning your trip.
How Much Does a Plane Ticket Cost to Hokkaido? Transportation In Hokkaido
Each region of Hokkaido has its own special appeal. Being the largest prefecture in Japan, transportation methods in Hokkaido can differ depending on the region, from national roads and expressways to trains and trams. It might be a good idea to check beforehand what means of transportation you will be using at your destination.
Transportation In Hakodate
When sightseeing in Hakodate, you'll want to make use of the tram.
It's a convenient train line that connects the major tourist spots in Hakodate, such as JR Hakodate Station, Goryokaku Tower, Yunokawa Onsen, and the Motomachi Area, famous for the Former British Consulate of Hakodate. The fare differs depending on how far you are riding, but you should be able to travel within Hakodate for 210-250 yen one-way. You will pay when getting off in cash only.
There is also the One Day Tram Ticket that provides visitors with unlimited tram rides for a day. This ticket can be purchased on the tram, at tourist information centers, and hotels. It costs 600 yen for an adult and 300 yen for a child. If you're planning on riding the tram more than three times in one day, you might want to consider getting one.
Buses run from Hakodate Station to the city area, as well as in the suburbs. If you stop by the information center in front of Hakodate Station, a staff member can help you figure out how to reach your destination.
Also, you can make use of the shuttle bus which connects Hakodate Station and Goryokaku, the Mt. Hakodate Ropeway, and the Motomachi area. If you're headed directly to Yunokawa Onsen from Hakodate Station, we recommend the Yunokawa Liner, which runs on weekends and holidays. The ride will take you to the hot spring town in about 15 to 20 minutes, and will cost you just 300 yen.
Transportation In Sapporo
The most major means of transportation for sightseeing in Sapporo is the subway. The Sapporo Municipal Subway consists of three train lines and connects central Sapporo and the city area. A one-way ride is 200-370 yen, but if you purchase a One Day Subway Ticket for 830 yen for adults and 420 yen for children, you will be able to enjoy unlimited subway rides for a whole day! In addition, the subway offers the Donichika Kippu for weekends and holidays. If you're headed to Sapporo on a holiday, you might want to consider purchasing. These tickets can be bought at subway station ticket machines and season ticket offices.
The Sapporo area also has trains, buses, and trams. If you're headed for Teine and Atsube, Shin Sapporo, or Ainosato, you should get on a JR train. In the area to the west of central Sapporo where there is no subway, you can get aboard a tram.
Transportation In Furano
Furano is especially famous for its lavender gardens in the summer. For getting around in the Furano area, we recommend a sightseeing bus. There are buses from JR Furano Station to Furano Ski Resort, Farm Tomita (lavender garden), Biei, and other nearby tourist spots.
If you want to enjoy the beautiful Furano views by train, you can ride the Furano Biei Norokko Train, which is available in the summer. A one-way trip from JR Furano Station to the lavender gardens is 230 yen, to Biei is 640 yen, and to Asahikawa is 1,070 yen. The Norokko Train slowly makes its way through the magnificent nature of Hokkaido. It's an experience we recommend if you have some time on your hands.
Transportation In Obihiro
The two major bus companies for convenient travel in Obihiro are the Tokachi Bus and Hokkaido Takushoku Bus. Most of the sightseeing attractions in Obihiro are gathered in the central area, so if the weather is good, you can also borrow a rental bike to tour the city on your own. If you don't mind taking some more time and walking, that's an option as well. A stroll under the clear sky of the Obihiro and Tokachi area is a great and relaxing experience.
Hokkaido Area Guide
Hokkaido can be largely divided into four main areas.
1. Southern Hokkaido (Hakodate, Niseko, etc.)
Picture courtesy of JNTO Japan Photo Library
This area includes onsen and night view-famous Hakodate, nature-rich Onuma Park, and the powder snow-full Niseko ski area.
2. Eastern Hokkaido (Obihiro, Tokachi, etc.)
Picture from Plan The Hokkaido Trip Of Your Dreams With Tabirai Rent-a-Car!
This area includes the country's largest ranch areas, such as Obihiro and Tokachi. It is known for its stunning and colorful gardens and high-quality hot springs.
3. Northern Hokkaido (Asahikawa, Furano, Biei, etc.)
Picture from Furano And Biei In Hokkaido – A Summer Escape To A Fairytale World
This area includes Asahikawa and its zoo, Furano and its lavender gardens, and Biei and its Blue Pond (pictured above). Visitors can enjoy magnificent views of nature here.
4. Central Hokkaido (Sapporo, Jozankei, etc.)
This area includes the center city of Hokkaido, Sapporo, famous for its annual Snow Festival and delicious ramen. The hot spring town, Jozankei, is also worth a visit.
Hokkaido's Points of Interest by Region Ski Spots Niseko - Enjoy Skiing on Powder Snow
You can't miss winter sports when in Hokkaido! Niseko is famous for its high-quality powder snow, and attracts many ski/snowboard lovers annually. Niseko is extremely popular with international winter sports enthusiasts. This is why you won't have any problem communicating in English at dining places or in accommodation facilities.
Niseko is also known for becoming an increasingly high-end travel destination.
If you want to experience the best quality powder snow for skiing or snowboarding, you should visit during January or February.
Address: Hokkaido, Niseko
Niseko Sightseeing Guide: Access, Area Information and Souvenirs
Top 5 Ski Resorts In Snowy Hokkaido For Winter 2019-2020
Hakodate - Points of Interest 1. Mount Hakodate
Mount Hakodate is an iconic sightseeing attraction, known best for having one of the Japan's Top Three Night Views. The view over Hakodate at night seen from the ropeway is breathtakingly beautiful.
To reach the summit of Mount Hakodate, take the Hakodateyama Ropeway from the city's Motomachi district. The cable cars run from 10 AM to 22 PM. One way costs 660 yen and a round trip costs 1200 yen.
From April to November, the summit can be reached by bus or by car. You can take a bus from Hakodate Station and it will take you directly to the summit. One ride costs 400 yen. Please be aware that the buses to Mount Hakodate operate mainly in the evening, and in the autumn they run less frequently.
Address: Hokkaido, Hakodate, Motomachi 19-7
2. Goryokaku Tower
The Goryokaku Tower offers a view of the star-shaped citadel, Goryokaku, which was built in 1864 by the Edo shogunate. You will be moved by the view of the beautiful western architectural techniques of the Goryokaku seen from the observatory.
The tower is 107 meters high and offers a magnificent view of the city. Visitors can learn about the history of Hakodate thanks to the displays of figurines which illustrate the battles that were fought in the Goryokaku area at the end of the Edo era (1603 - 1868).
On the lower deck of the observatory, located 86 m above ground, you will find a cafe and a souvenir shop. The second deck, located at 90 m above ground, is a small museum, showing the history of the tower.
The admission ticket for the observatory deck costs 850 yen and can be bought at the information center on the 1st floor. There are discount tickets for students and groups.
Address: Hokkaido, Hakodate, Goryokaku 43-9
Goryokaku Tower - Enjoy A Breathtaking View Of Hakodate City!
3. Onuma Quasi-National Park
Onuma Quasi-National Park (Japanese), established in 1958, is a natural park that offers a view of the 1,131 meter-active volcano, Komagatake. The view of Komagatake changes depending on which angle you view it from. It's loved by tourists as a rare active volcano that can be climbed during June-October.
The two lakes on the west side of the mountain, Onuma and Konuma, also offer wonderful views. The entire area is a natural park and the habitat of many animals and plants. It is also an ideal spot for outdoor sports such as hiking, horseback riding, camping, and fishing.
The Onuma Quasi-National Park can be reached by train (the nearest station is the JR Onuma-Koen Station) or by the local Hakodate buses (Onuma-Koen bus stop).
Address: Hokkaido, Kameda, Nanae, Onuma 1023-1
4. Yunokawa Onsen
Yunokawa Onsen is a hot spring town located in Yunokawacho of Hakodate. The resort is accessible from the airport by car in just 5 minutes! Visitors can enjoy fresh seafood after bathing in the hot spring of historic ryokans or overlook the ocean from a modern-style hotel.
You can even enjoy watching fireworks while relaxing in a hot spring in the summer. The Hakodate Tropical Botanical Garden in a corner of the town offers a chance to see Japanese macaques (also known as "snow monkeys") bathing in the onsen hot spring at the Saruyama Onsen.
Address: Hokkaido, Hakodate, Yunokawa
Viewing Exotic Plants in Winter?! Hakodate Tropical Botanical Garden
5. Hachimanzaka Hill
There is a slope that extends from the Kanemori Red Brick Warehouse straight to Mt. Hakodate called Hachimanzaka. After dark, the stone pavement is lit by street lights. You can also see ships coming and going from the harbor in the distance.
What makes this place so special is not only the stunning, picture-perfect view over the harbor, but also the fact that both sides of the street are lined with Western-style buildings. This area with an international atmosphere stands proof of Hakodate's history as a port city.
Address: Hokkaido, Hakodate, Suehirocho
6. Hakodate Port
The Hakodate Port opened in 1859 and as one of the first international trading ports in Japan. This led to the development of Hakodate into a multicultural city with many influences from overseas which can be observed in the architecture of the buildings.
Nowadays, the Hakodate Bay area is sought after by domestic and international visitors for its vibrant atmosphere, with many places to dine and hang out. The Hakodate Port can be reached by foot from Hakodate Station after a 15-minute walk.
If you're looking for good food in Hakodate, you should get some fresh seafood, such as squid, kombu kelp, abalone, and sea urchin. The annual Hakodate Port Festival held in early August has magnificent fireworks, livening up the port area.
7. Kanemori Red Brick Warehouses
The Kanemori Red Brick Warehouses, located right by the Hakodate Port, have a history of about 150 years. These buildings were iniatially used as storage houses for the goods that were traded in the port.
Nowadays, this area attracts 1-2 million people annually as a shopping complex with an exotic brick exterior. A canal passes through part of this district. The building and water surface are lit up at night, creating a dazzling view for visitors to enjoy.
Address: Hokkaido, Hakodate, Suehiro 14-12
8. Hakodate Morning Market (Asaichi)
If you're looking for fresh seafood like crab, sea urchin, or salmon roe, you should stop by the Morning Market (Asaichi), which is held right by Hakodate Station. The market is bustling every morning with people looking for delicious and reasonably-priced kaisendon (seafood rice bowl).
Address: Hokkaido, Hakodate, Wakamatsu 9-19
9. Former British Consulate of Hakodate
The Former British Consulate of Hakodate was built in 1859, and after several fire disasters, restored in 1992. It's currently open to the public. It includes a reference room on the history of the opening of the port of Hakodate upon the arrival of Perry, as well as a cafe where visitors can enjoy genuine British-style afternoon tea.
Address: Hokkaido, Hakodate, Motomachi 33-14
10. Seikan Ferry Memorial Ship Mashumaru
The Seikan Ferry Memorial Ship Mashumaru (Japanese) is a museum open to the public in a ship that was used as a ferry connecting Hokkaido and Honshu. Inside the ship, you can actually hold in your hands the equipment that was used in the day. It's a great spot to visit with your family.
Address: Hokkaido, Hakodate, Wakamatsu 12
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Sapporo and Jozankei Onsen
Jozankei Onsen is a hot spring town iconic of Sapporo. Bathing in the onsen is said to be good for nerve pain and rheumatism. The beautiful mountain scenery is also one of the appeals of this area.
Address: Hokkaido, Sapporo, Minami, Jozankei Onsen
11. Sapporo Clock Tower
Picture courtesy of Yokoso SAPPORO
The Sapporo Clock Tower has been designated a National Important Cultural Property. It's a Western-style building with a characteristic red roof and white walls. Documents related to the development of the Sapporo area are on display within the building.
Address: Hokkaido, Sapporo city, Chuo, Kita 1 Jonishi 2
12. Hitsujigaoka Observation Hill
Hitsujigaoka Observation Hill offers a view over the city of Sapporo. On the spacious fields are flocks of sheep, and a statue of William Smith Clark, who contributed to the farming education in Sapporo, and left the saying, "Boys, be ambitious." We recommend visiting to take a photo with Mr. Clark and imitating his pose.
Address: Hokkaido, Sapporo, Toyohira, Hitsujigaoka 1
13. Hokkaido University
Hokkaido University has beautiful golden ginkgo trees as well as a farm that was established as a result of a proposal by Professor Clark. Part of the campus is open to the public for free.
Free walking tours through the Hokkaido University campus are organized by volunteer students for the visitors who wish to learn about the rich history of the city. The Hokkaido University Museum, a facility dedicated to natural sciences, can also be visited for free.
Address: Hokkaido, Sapporo, Kita, Kita 8 Jonishi
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14. Former Hokkaido Government Office
Picture courtesy of Yokoso SAPPORO
The Former Hokkaido Government Office is also known as the Red Brick Government Building. True to its name, its outer walls consist of characteristic red bricks. It has an elegant American-style Neo-Baroque design and is open to the public free of charge.
Address: Hokkaido, Sapporo, Chuo, Kita 3 Jonishi 6
When In Sapporo, See The Former Hokkaido Government Office Building!
15. Nijo Market
Nijo Market is a popular food spot that has a history of over 100 years. You'll be able to find seafood like the famous crab and salmon roe from Hokkaido, as well as traditional bar district s and alleys of old Sapporo.
Address: Hokkaido, Sapporo, Chuo, Minami 3 Johigashi 1, 2
Nijo Market in Sapporo - Hokkaido's Delicious Foods in One Place!
16. Sapporo Shiryokan (Sapporo Archives)
The Sapporo Shiryokan (The Former Sapporo Court of Appeals) offers hands-on experiences of pressed flowers and paper cutouts, as well as music concerts. The building was built in 1926 and is loved by the locals as a historical and cultural museum.
Address: Hokkaido, Sapporo, Chuo, Odorinishi 13-chome
17. Sapporo Beer Museum
The only beer museum in Japan: Sapporo Beer Museum (Japanese). It's a great place for beer-lovers to stop by. You can taste some beer if you participate in the factory tour for a fee.
Address: Hokkaido, Sapporo, Higashi, Kita 7 Johigashi 9 1-1
18. Mt. Moiwa Ropeway
The view of Sapporo from atop Mt. Moiwa of 531 meters is something you don't want to miss. You can reach the summit by ropeway to find a 270-degree glass wall restaurant. The restaurant in the sky stands quietly and shines atop the mountain.
Address: Hokkaido, Sapporo, Chuo, Fushimi 5-3-7
Mt. Moiwa, Sapporo - A Stunning, Must-See Night View
19. Shiroi Koibito Park
Shiroi Koibito is a chocolate snack and famous Sapporo souvenir. At Shiroi Koibito Park, not only can you watch the manufacturing process of the snack, but you can also experience making it yourself.
Address: Hokkaido, Sapporo, Nishi, Miyanosawa 2-2-11-36
Jump Into A Fairytale World: Shiroi Koibito Park, Sapporo
20. Moerenuma Park
Moerenuma Park, designed by famous architect Isamu Noguchi, is a huge park where nature meets art. We recommend stopping by the beautiful park to see the different views it offers through the seasons.
Address: Hokkaido, Sapporo, Higashi, Moerenuma-koen 1-1
Moerenuma: A Beautiful Park Designed by Isamu Noguchi
21. Sapporo Art Park - An Outdoor Art Museum
The Sapporo Art Park (Sapporo Geijutsu no Mori) has 74 sculptures by 64 artists on display. The sculptures located in the nature-rich forest show different faces throughout the year, depending on weather and the season.
Address: Hokkaido, Sapporo, Minami, Geijutsu-no-mori 2-75
74 Amazing Works Of Art! The Sapporo Art Park
22. Historical Village Of Hokkaido (Hokkaido Kaitaku No Mura)
The Historical Village of Hokkaido (Hokkaido Kaitaku no Mura) was established as a memorial of 100 years of Hokkaido. Here, visitors can feel the history and development of Hokkaido through historical buildings and documents. You can also enjoy the village's famous imomochi and Hokkaido's miso ramen at the facility's cafeteria.
Address: Hokkaido, Sapporo, Atsubetsu, Atsubetsu Konopporo 50-1
23. Horomitoge Lavender Garden
Horomitoge Lavender Garden boasts 5,000 beautiful lavender flowers. The best season to visit is from mid-July to mid-August. Visitors can also enjoy reaping lavenders at the facility. You'll be able to enjoy some quality time with your family or lover here, surrounded by the pleasant scent of lavenders.
Address: Hokkaido, Sapporo, Chuo, Bankei 471-110
Sapporo's Horomitouge Lavender Garden Is Just Too Beautiful!
24. Jozankei Onsen (Autumn Leaves)
Jozankei Onsen is known not only for its onsen hot spring, but also for its beautiful autumn landscape. You can take a stroll to the stream from the hot spring town, ride a gondola to enjoy the autumn leaves, or hop on the Koyo Kappa Bus, which will take you around the major autumn leaf viewing spots.
Address: Hokkaido, Sapporo, Minami, Jozankei Onsen
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25. Otaru Canal
Otaru Canal runs through Otaru, Hokkaido. It's known especially for its historically unique scenery. Brick buildings line the side of the canal, and warm light from the gaslights shine on the townscape at night.
Address: Hokkaido, Otaru, Minatomachi
A Romantic Evening Stroll Through Otaru, Hokkaido
Noboribetsu 26. Noboribetsu Onsen
Noboribetsu Onsen is known as one of Japan's best onsen hot spring resorts. You can also find the Jigokudani crater and natural swamps created from eruptions and explosions nearby. It's a highly popular tourist spot.
Address: Hokkaido, Noboribetsu, Noboribetsu Onsen 6
27. Noboribetsu Bear Park (Kuma Bokujo)
Noboribetsu Bear Park is a 7-minute ropeway ride from the Noboribetsu Onsen hot spring town. Here you can meet impressive brown bears up close. This zoo is a great destination to visit with your family.
Address: Hokkaido, Noboribetsu, Noboribetsu Onsen 224
28. Noboribetsu Date Jidaimura
Noboribetsu Date Jidaimura is an amusement facility in the middle of nature, consisting of ninja houses, samurai residence, and several other attractions. Once you've finished exploring the great outdoors of Hokkaido, how about traveling in time to this world of ninjas and geisha?
Address: Noboribetsu, Nakanoboribetsu 53-1
Asahikawa, Furano and Biei 29. Ken and Mary Tree in Biei
The Ken and Mary Tree stands quietly in the town of Biei, Hokkaido. The tree got its name from a television commercial of a car called "Ken and Mary's Skyline". The area surrounding the poplar tree has been used as the filming location and is now an iconic tree of the city, loved by the locals.
Address: Hokkaido, Kamikawa, Biei, Okubokyosei
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30. Farm Tomita
Farm Tomita is open from spring to fall. It's known best for its beautiful lavenders and other flower gardens. There is no entrance fee at Farm Tomita. Visitors can also purchase dried flowers, perfume, and other goods made with lavender.
Address: Hokkaido, Sorachi, Nakafurano, Kisen Kita 15
For details on how to get to Farm Tomita and its lavender fields in Furano, check out the article recommended below.
Furano And Biei In Hokkaido – A Summer Escape To A Fairytale World
31. Sounkyo Onsen
Sounkyo Onsen is located about 70 kilometers from Asahikawa, in a ravine of the Daisetsuzan Mountain Range. Its hot springs are known for having good effects in healing rheumatism, high blood pressure, and diabetes. The townscape is modeled after a Canadian mountain resort and has a western-style atmosphere.
Address: Hokkaido, Kamikawa, Kamikawa, Sounkyo Onsen
32. Shirogane Blue Pond
Shirogane Blue Pond gathered attention after its image was used as a wallpaper for an Apple product in 2012. The blue color created by the unique water quality of the pond is something you want to see once in your lifetime. The pond is lit up at night from November to February when it's frozen.
If you wish to reach the Shirogane Blue Pond by public transportation, take the Dohoku Bus (No.2, 4, 5, 7 or 8) from JR Biei Station. The ride takes approximately 25 minutes.
Address: Hokkaido, Kawakami, Biei, Shirogane
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33. Biei Hills
The Biei Hills are also called "Patchwork" because of the various crops planted in this area. The Biei area offers many beautiful spots where time seems to pass by slower than usual. This is a great place for taking some beautiful landscape photos.
Address: Hokkaido, Kamikawa, Biei
34. Asahiyama Zoo
Asahiyama Zoo attracts many tourists from around Japan as one of the largest zoos in the country. Visitors can enjoy the exciting exhibitions that show the behavior and habits of the animals. It's a spot loved by visitors of all ages.
Address: Hokkaido, Asahikawa, Higashi Asahikawa, Kuranuma
Flying... Penguins? Many Unique Exhibitions at Asahiyama Zoo!
Akan and Lake Mashu 35. Lake Akan, Lake Mashu and Akan Onsen
Lake Akan and Mt. Oakan
Lake Akan is a lake created by volcanic eruptions. It has a perimeter of 27 kilometers. Lake Mashu, called "God's Lake" in Ainu language, has the world's second most transparent water. Both are great spots you want to visit when in the central or eastern regions of Hokkaido. There are approximately 30 ryokan (traditional inns) and hotels in the hot spring town around Lake Mashu. You can reach the hot spring town from Kushiro Airport by the Akan Bus in about an hour.
36. Kawayu Onsen
Picture courtesy of Lanzen via VisualHunt / CC BY-NC-SA
About 20 minutes by car from Lake Mashu is Kawayu Onsen. It's an onsen that was born from the source coming from the river bottom (over 70 degrees Celsius) mixing with water of the Kumano River. A large outside bath called "Sennin Buro" appears in the winter. Here you can relax in the hot water while admiring the star-filled night sky.
Address: Hokkaido, Kawakami, Teshikaga Kawayu Onsen
Shiretoko, Tokachi and Obihiro
Picture courtesy of David McKelvey via Visual Hunt / CC BY-NC-ND
Shiretoko is a region registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Tokachi and Obihiro areas boast huge farms and farming villages.
If you're headed to Shiretoko, you should ride a bus from Memanbetsu Airport, or a JR train from Kushiro Airport. For Tokachi and Obihiro, the Tokachi Obihiro Airport is convenient.
37. Utoro Onsen
Picture courtesy of Nemo's great uncle via Visualhunt / CC BY-NC-SA
Utoro Onsen in Shiretoko was built in 1965. Here, visitors can relax in a hot spring with the mountains of Shiretoko in the background, while watching the sunset into the Sea of Okhotsk.
Address: Hokkaido, Shari, Shari, Utoro
38. Shiretoko National Park
Picture courtesy of civ33 via Visual Hunt / CC BY-NC-SA
Shiretoko National Park covers a vast area of about 60,000 hectares. It's registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and its conservation activity is continued as it is a protected zone. Brown bears and Yezo shika deer inhabit the area. The park is known for its sea, mountains, lakes, and real natural beauty untouched by humans.
Address: Hokkaido, Menashi, Rausu Shiretokomisaki
39. Shiretoko Five Lakes (Shiretoko Goko)
Picture courtesy of antonioperezrio.com via Visualhunt.com / CC BY-NC-ND
The Shiretoko Five Lakes are the entranceway to the World Heritage Site. There is a promenade for visitors to freely explore the surroundings of the lakes. The lakes are also home to brown bears, so we recommend exploring with a guide for a safer experience.
Address: Hokkaido, Shari, Shari
40. Tokachigawa Onsen
Tokachigawa Onsen in Obihiro is known for its "Bijin-no-yu" (Beauty Hot Spring), and is popular especially among ladies. The source of Tokachigawa Onsen is plants, and the hot spring is said to be full of natural moisturizing factors, and to be good for lower back pain and skin disease.
Address: Hokkaido, Kato, Otofuke Tokachigawa Onsen
Food and Restaurants In Hokkaido
Hokkaido is surrounded by the sea, full of nature, and has plenty of grazing land. These are the reasons why there is such a wide variety of delicious foods in Hokkaido. You should not miss any of the seafood, vegetables, or dairy products in Hokkaido.
As for local cuisine, Hokkaido residents love Jingisukan, which is grilled mutton and vegetables. It's also popular to include butter, sake lees, and potatoes in "Ishikarinabe" (stew with salmon, vegetables, and miso).
Another Hokkaido favorite is miso ramen, which contains fresh seafood and Sapporo ramen.
Hokkaido offers fresh seafood right from the harbor. We especially recommend Nagoyakatei (Japanese), a very popular conveyor belt sushi restaurant, where you can enjoy uni (sea urchin), salmon roe, crab, and other Hokkaido sashimi for a reasonable price. The sashimi slices are large, and you will enjoy the generous service of the staff.
Address: Sapporo, Kiyota, Kitano 5-5-20
Other than sushi, you can also enjoy the generously piled kaisendon (sashimi bowl). For ikura salmon roe lovers, we recommend Kuidokoro Shakebanya in Kushiro. Here you can enjoy fresh salmon roe for just 850 yen. It's a great restaurant with good value for the money.
Address: Hokkaido, Kushiro, Hamacho 4-11
Hokkaido's Famous Ramen
The most famous ramen in Hokkaido is miso ramen. One of the best known ramen joints is Sumire, which offers ramen with rich miso soup and tender char siu toppings. You'll be craving for more once you've tasted it!
Address: Hokkaido, Sapporo, Toyohira, Nakanoshima 2 Jo 4 7-28
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Special Events In Hokkaido
Picture courtesy of David McKelvey via Visualhunt.com / CC BY-NC-ND
Many events are held in Hokkaido through the seasons, especially in winter, when there are many snow-related attractions. Held annually in early February is the Sapporo Snow Festival, where snow and ice sculptures are displayed, and warm Hokkaido delicacies are offered. It's said that the Sapporo area becomes so crowded that you'll forget the cold.
Odori Park Address: Hokkaido, Sapporo, Chuo, Odori Nishi 1-12
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Weather in Hokkaido and What to Wear
Although summer in Hokkaido is somewhat cooler than in Honshu, if you're in the Hakodate or Shiretoko area, layering clothes shouldn't be necessary. You'll be comfortable in short sleeves and shorts. However, the temperature in the Furano and Asahikawa areas differs greatly during the day, especially if you're in a place of high elevation, so you should bring warm clothes. In the winter, no matter where in Hokkaido you are, you will experience very cold temperatures. You should be prepared with clothes for cold weather to enjoy your trip.
Hokkaido's Weather And What To Wear During Your Trip
Nature in Japan changes through the four seasons. In Hokkaido, the cherry blossoms begin to bloom in late April, a month later than in Tokyo. On the other hand, the autumn leaf season begins early in Hokkaido. If you visit from late September to October, you'll be able to enjoy the colorful red and yellow leaves along with the magnificent mountains of Hokkaido. If you want to see the snowy season, we recommend visiting between late November to December. During the season when snow falls the most in January and February, public transportation often is affected and you may experience more difficulty in going outside.
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The Best Souvenirs from Hokkaido
Milk from cows raised in the peaceful natural surroundings of Hokkaido, as well as dairy products made from that milk, including cheese, butter, and chocolate all make great souvenirs. You can bring these gifts of the land along with your memories home with you.
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