It seems that the rainy season this year is going to last longer than usual in Japan.
As the temperature is going high, I already started missing the cool weather.
So, this time I wrote about Hokkaido, which is the Japan’s northernmost area and it is one of the best destinations during hot summer time.
Hokkaido is known for its tremendous land with great nature, landscape, and food culture.
22% Japanese land belong to Hokkaido and many parts of it are unspoiled.
Hokkaido attracts many outdoor lovers from all over the world like hikers, campers, and cyclists in summer, skiers and snowboarders in winter.
Here are 12 places you should visit in Hokkaido with info about food culture there.
It is the capital city of Hokkaido and there are about 2 million people there.
Combining both Japanese and foreign cultures, this place has unique atmosphere.
Many foreign cultures were introduced to this area during the Meiji Restoration period, when Japanese people started learning from overseas.
Sapporo Clock Tower, which was build it 1869, is a historical and cultural symbol of Sapporo.
This place was originally used as the first institution for Agricultural Studies in Japan, and students conducted their military training and physical education here. It is now a museum of history and the iconic tower of Sapporo. The bell rings every hour and tells the time to the city.
Beer is a popular product in Sapporo. Sapporo beer, which is the oldest Japanese beer brand is popular all over the areas in Japan. You can find Sapporo beer easily (the one with a Star label on) at any convenience stores or supermarkets. The technique of beer brewery was introduced to Japan from Germany in the late 1860s and the very first one was brewed in Sapporo in 1876 by a Japanese brewer, Seibei Nakagawa, who trained in Germany. At the Sapporo beer museum, you can take a guided tour of the history and brewing methods and taste fresh beer after the tour.
The must-see event in Sapporo is the Sapporo Snow Festival.
It is an annual event held in February. It features about 250 snow/ice sculptures on display outside in Odori Park, Tsudome, and Susukino.
At night, some of them are lit up and you can enjoy viewing/taking pictures of the beautiful art works.
It is a harbor city which can be reached by train from Sapporo within an hour. This area thrived as a port city, and many western style buildings were made during Meiji era.
Glassware and music boxes are popular products here, and it is also known for its picturesque city view. There are many museums and shops, so this area is a good place to buy souvenirs!
In February, the Otaru Snow light path festival is held every year, when snow lanterns and illuminations light up the city during from 17:00 to 21:00 everyday.
Hakodate is the southernmost city of Hokkaido.
This city is the first port to open up to foreign trade, so you’ll find a lot of international influence in this area.
The Hakodate Morning Market (open from 5:00am until 3:00pm everyday), which is just a minute walk away from Hakodate Station is a great place to enjoy fresh seafood.
Major sightseeing spots are the Motomachi area, the Kanamori Red Brick Warehouses, and Goryokaku park with its historic relics.
At night, you can enjoy the amazing view. The night view here is considered one of the most beautiful in Japan along with Kobe and Nagasaki.
This place is a very popular ski resort that attracts people from all over the world. The powder snow in this area is high in quality and there are a lot of hotels and Onsen spots.
If you like outdoor activities like hiking or skiing, you should definitely check this are out!
This is the 2nd largest city in Hokkaido after Sapporo. There is a popular Zoo called Asahiyama Zoo, which has a glass tunnel through the penguin pool. You can learn about wild animals in Hokkaido such as eagles, deer, wolves, cranes. polar bears, etc.
Asahikawa ramen is a popular local food there. The broth is soy sauce based and a little more oily compared to most ramen in Japan.
Eating the ramen seeing the beautiful nature in Hokkaido will surely be a great experience!
6. Lake Toya
This lake is known for its spectacular view with the active volcano Mt. Usu and the nature around it. Lake Toya is one of the most popular hot spring areas in Hokkaido as well. In 2008, G8 summit was held here.
7.Furano and Bie
Furano and Biei are best-known for their lavender fields.
In Biei area, there is a popular blue pond called Shirogane blue pond and a spectacular waterfall called Shirahige Falls (it means “white beard waterfall”) , where you can see white curtains of water there and from November to April, light-up events take place from 6:00pm until 9:00pm. Biei Shirogane Onsen is another popular spot where you can relax taking a hot spring watching majestic nature around.
Located in south-western Hokkaido, it is the most popular hot spring town in Hokkaido.
There are 9 different kinds of hot-springs.
Among them, the most impressive one is Jigokudani, or Hell Valley.
The valley is 450 m wide, and 3,000 liters of hot water is produced per minute. In the north of the town, there are various hiking courses around.
Virgin forests in the area are designated as Japan’s natural monument.
9.Daisesuzan National Park
It is the largest national park in Japan (226,764 ha, more than 3 times bigger than Tokyo).
It is a great place for hikers. There are many different hiking courses, so any levels of hikers can enjoy walking in the beautiful nature seeing wild animals and flowers.
Asahi-Dake (2,291m) is the tallest mountain in the area, and there is a ropeway which goes up to 1,600m above the sea level.
This lake is considered as one of the clearest caldera lakes in the world.
Visitors are not allowed to go down to the lake, but there are two observation decks from which you can enjoy the views on a fine day.
It is the best if you could rent a car to get there, but you could take infrequent buses that run between Mashu station and the Observation deck 1 (until November).
11.Shiretoko National Park
This national park in the Shiretoko Peninsula in eastern Hokkaido was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 2005.
The nature there is unspoiled and it can be accessed only by foot or boat.
It is a home to many wild animals such as beers, foxes, deers, etc.
Just like in all national parks, you are not allowed to feed or throw away trash in the area so you need to follow the rules strictly if you are going.
In winter, drift ice can be seen in the Shiretoko Peninsula.
During winter (from January to March only), there will be a snow village at the highest elevation lake in Hokkaido, which is 800 m above the sea level. This is called Shikaribetsu Kotan and it features numbers of attractions such as ice bars, ice hot springs, and ice concert halls.
At night, some buildings are lighten up.
If you would like to enjoy the winter in Hokkaido, make sure that you check Shikaribetsu Kotan!
Popular cuisine in Hokkaido
There are basically four different kinds of ramen soup in Hokkaido: Miso (Sapporo), Soy-sauce (Asahikawa), Salt (Hakodate), and Curry (Muroran).
You can enjoy locally grown, fresh vegetables with delicious soup and noodles. Eating ramen is great especially during cold winter!
・Milk and Cheese
Hokkaido is known for its daily product.
Cool summers and snowy winters in Hokkaido is great for farming and agriculture. The quality of milk and cheese produced there is very high and rich in taste.
・Seafood and vegetables
Thanks to the surrounding seas, there are a lot of tasty seafood in Hokkaido such as salmon roes, squids, sea urchins, shrimps, crabs, sea shells, and various Sashimis. All of them are very fresh and taste great!
Hokkaido’s huge land is great for making vegetables.
You can enjoy fresh vegetables throughout the year.
How to get to Hokkaido from Tokyo
The easiest way to go there is by an airplane. The price varies depending on the season and the airline you use, but it usually costs from around 10,560yen to 25,000yen for a round trip. It takes about 1 hour and a half.
As an alternative way, you could take Hotoku Shinkansen (bullet train) from Tokyo station to Shinhakodate Hokuto station. It takes about 4 hours and costs around 22,690yen for one way(reserved seat), but you can enjoy the beautiful view during the train ride.
Enjoy traveling there and embrace the nature!
If you need more info about Japan, give me a comment here or send me a message to[email protected]
See you next time,