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HOKKAIDO

Located at the farthest northern tip of Japan, Hokkaido is the third most popular tourist destination after Tokyo and Kyoto. Hokkaido is one of four main islands that form the Japanese archipelago, and the second largest island next to Honshu. Even today, this great landmass contains many areas of pristine natural wilderness. With its cool summers and snowy subzero winters, the Hokkaido environment is completely different from Honshu.

The indigenous people of Hokkaido are called the Ainu, who respect Mother Earth and seek to live in harmony with nature. For this reason, many place names throughout the island preserve the legacy of Ainu language. Settlers from Honshu began arriving from the late 14th century, and the formation of modern Hokkaido dates from the “pioneering period” of the mid-19th century.

Travel in Hokkaido is a feast for the senses. It offers spectacular vistas of boundless flowering fields and limitless wintery seascapes filled with drift ice (and abundant fish). And its incredibly fresh seafood menu includes unique sashimi, sushi, and ramen delicacies that vary from region to region and season to season.

Once you experience the grandeur of Hokkaido and its many attractions, you’ll have a refreshing new image of cool Japan.

    • Spring: 7°C to 16°C
      Cherry and lilac blossoms; taraba-gani (Alaskan king crab), botan-ebi (shrimp), kegani (horsehaircrab); driving, canoeing, rafting
    • Summer: 18°C to 20°C
      Fields of lavender, sunflowers, melons, corn; sagittated calamari (squid), sanma (Pacific saury); trekking, driving, visiting pastures, fireworks
    • Autumn: -0.9°C to 11°C
      Autumn leaves; salmon, Rishiri (left-eyed) flounder, potatoes, shishamo (smelt), shin-soba (noodles of newly cropped buckwheat); “gourmet trip” (hunting for local delicacies)
    • Winter: -3°C to -0.6°C
      Skiing, snowboarding, drift ice cruising; oysters, herring, taraba-gani (Alaskan king crab), snow festival

    * Temperatures are based on data from Sapporo, the prefectural capital of Hokkaido.

    • Sapporo
      Central city of Hokkaido with the largest population and site of the prefectural government. The famous Yuki-matsuri (snow festival) is held here.
    • Noboribetsu
      A canal city that grew prosperous as a gateway to sea routes. The old-time gas streetlights create a fantastic illuminated cityscape.
    • Wakkanai
      The northernmost area of Hokkaido. Site of a bay with travel access to remote islands nearby. Also famous for fresh sea urchin.
    • Furano
      Northern part of Hokkaido with soothing pastoral scenery. Splendid landscapes of seemingly endless lavender fields.
    • Shiretoko
      A peninsula at the eastern tip of Hokkaido, designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A well-known spot for observing drift ice and whale watching.
    • Hakodate
      A bay city near the southern tip of Hokkaido. Noted for its remaining Western-style buildings and fresh kaisen-don (bowl of rice with fresh seafood).
    • Kushiro
      Wilderness area of Kushiro-Shitsugen National Park and three great caldera lakes. Kushiro-Shitsugen Norokko sightseeing train runs through wetlands and flowering fields.
    • Otaru
      A canal city that grew prosperous as a gateway to sea routes. The old-time gas streetlights create a fantastic illuminated cityscape.
    • Tokachi
      A wide plain of grainfields and dairy farms. Popular for its soothing scenic views and local gourmet specialties using regional food favorites.
    • Asahikawa
      The central region of the northern part of Hokkaido. Asahikawa is famous for its city zoo, and Asahikawa ramen with its soy-sauce-based soup is popular, too.
    • Car
      If you want to fully appreciate the grandeur of the Hokkaido landscape, traveling around by car is the choice. However, since many routes may be blocked by heavy winter snowfall, car transportation is not recommended for winter trips.
    • Bus
      Shuttle buses are an inexpensive, convenient way to get around between airports and main scenic spots. However, city buses provide announcements and maps in Japanese only, so you need to know your route in advance.
    • Train
      Major cities in Hokkaido are connected via train services. While there are not as many trains available as in Tokyo, rail transportation is the best choice for moving around on a timely schedule and at low cost.
    • Airplane
      Since Hokkaido covers an enormous area, air transportation is advantageous for a limited-time trip. Routes to Hakodate, Kushiro, Nakashibetsu, Memanbetsu, Rishiri, and Wakkanai are in service from New Chitose Airport (Sapporo).
    • From Tokyo International Airport (Haneda) - 1 hour and 30 minutes
    • From Chūbu Centrair International Airport - 1 hour and 40 minutes
    • From Osaka International Airport (Itami Airport) - 1 hour and 50 minutes
    • From New Kansai International Airport - 1 hour and 45 minutes
    • From Kobe Airport Terminal - 1 hour and 50 minutes
    • From Fukuoka Airport via Tokyo International Airport (Haneda) - 3 hours and 35 minutes
  • Seafood
    Seafood

    available in various areas

  • Moerenuma Park
    Moerenuma Park

    Sapporo

  • Unkai Terrace
    Unkai Terrace

    Tomamu

  • Night views from Mount Hakodate
    Night views from Mount Hakodate

    Hakodate

  • Lavender fields
    Lavender fields

    Furano and Biei

  • Lake Toya Hot Spring
    Lake Toya Hot Spring

    Toyako-cho

  • Asahiyama Zoo
    Asahiyama Zoo

    Asahikawa

  • Shiretoko National Park
    Shiretoko National Park

    Shiretoko

  • Niseko Resort
    Niseko Resort

    Niseko

  • Drift ice
    Drift ice

    Eastern Hokkaido (Do-to)