20 Things to Know Before Coming to Hokkaido

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7662411548_77f86c3d62_kSource: Chi King

Those of you looking for an escape from city life, Hokkaido is the perfect place for you. Famous for its scenery, majestic volcanoes, and gorgeous national parks, Hokkaido is heaven on earth for nature lovers. Check out these 20 things to know before coming to this stunning island.

1. Location and Access

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Hokkaido is the largest prefecture in Japan located at the northernmost part of the country. It is actually the second largest island in Japan. The easiest way to get there is to take a plane ride to Chitose airport in Sapporo. If you are coming from Tokyo, it is just a few hours plane ride from Narita Airport. However, be sure to book early as this is one of the busiest flight routes in the world!

2. Climate and Weather

Hokkaido is home to 6 active volcanoes: Mount Koma, Usu, Showa-shinzan, Tarumae, Tokachi, and Meakan. Usu and Showa-shinzan are located in Shikotsu-Toya National park. They are popular tourist attractions. In fact, Usu erupted back in 2000 which caused 13,000 residents to clear their homes.

3. Skiing

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Hokkaido is well known for its plentiful ski resorts, especially at Sapporo. However, the best skiing area can be found in the Niseko area. People say it is the best skiing they’ve ever done!

4. Volcanoes

3698041360_a07db6fd01_bSource: EO Kenny

Hokkaido is home to 6 active volcanoes: Mount Koma, Usu, Showa-shinzan, Tarumae, Tokachi, and Meakan. Usu and Showa-shinzan are located in Shikotsu-Toya National park. They are popular tourist attractions. In fact, Usu erupted back in 2000 which caused 13,000 residents to clear their homes.

5. Camping

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Hokkaido, with its natural surroundings, is the perfect place for camping. Check out popular places like Asarigawa and Shiroishi Park. You can enjoy beautiful mountain scenery, relaxing hot springs, and sleep under the stars.

6. Hot Springs

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On those cold days in winter, Hokkaido provides warm and cozy hot springs. There are plenty of hotels in the area that have public hot spring baths for those of you looking for a relaxing soak!

7. Sapporo Snow Festival

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This snow festival is held every year at Sapporo Japan in February. It is one of the most famous and largest winter events in Japan. Back in 2007, over two million people came to participate in the activities. Come check out the beautiful snow statues and ice sculptures!

8. Sweets

Desserts and snacks in Hokkaido are extremely famous. There are some sweets that can only be found in Hokkaido. Delicious sweets include Shiroi Koibito, Royce chocolate, and Jaga Pokkuru. The best known sweets store is Ana Festa, which carries nearly every kind of Hokkaido snack.

9. Otaru Snow Light Festival

The Otaru Snow Light Festival is a more low key event that occurs at the same time as the Sapporo Winter Festival. However, that doesn’t make it any less beautiful and worthwhile! The event happens in February and the entire city is covered with lights and lanterns. Definitely a gorgeous sight that you won’t want to miss.

10. Furano

Furano, Hokkaido is well known for its beautiful blooming flowers. Visitors can see poppies, lilies, sunflowers, and lavender. There are also tractor rides so that you may get up close and personal with the colorful flowers.

11. Moerenuma Park

Moerenuma Park was designed by well-known sculptor and artist Isamu Noguchi. The park features many interesting sculptures, fountains, and whimsical buildings. Great for those of you with an interest in architecture or art!

Information

  • Name: Moerenuma Park
  • Address:1-1 Moerenumakoen, Higashi Ward, Sapporo
  • Price: free
  • Opening hours: 7AM to 7PM Sun-Sat
  • Website: http://moerenumapark.jp/#_=_

12. Pacific Music Festival

Every year in July, Sapporo hosts a four week festival called the Pacific Music Festival. It was founded by Leonad Bernstein in the 1990s as a way to promote classical music and world peace.

13. Hiking

Due to the temperate climate in Hokkaido, it is a perfect place to hike without getting overheated. It also has no rainy season so you won’t have to worry about being caught in a storm. Of course Hokkaido offers some of the most beautiful scenery with their hiking trails!

14. Hokkaido Birds

Hokkaido offers many areas for bird-watching for those of you who are enthusiasts! Of course the prefectural bird of Hokkaido is the iconic Red-crowned Crane. Elegant and elusive, the crane is a symbol of prosperity and luck. 

15. Sapporo City Clock Tower

Perhaps the most recognizable symbol in Sapporo, the City Clock Tower is one of the oldest buildings in the Sapporo area. It is one of the few western style buildings that is still in Hokkaido.

Information

  • Name: Sapporo Clock Tower City
  • Address: 424 Ishikawa, Motobu, Kunigami District
  • Price: 200 yen
  • Opening hour: Sun-Sat 8:45AM-5:10PM

16. Butter Corn Ramen

This unique and delicious dish is native to the Hokkaido area. It is rumored that the dish was made when a dairy farmer decided to add some butter and corn to ramen. Grab a bowl of this hearty ramen soup for a delicious meal!

17. The Ainu

Hokkaido has a group of indigenous people called the “Ainu”. They are believed to be the original natives of the Hokkaido area. Today, there are only about 200,000 Ainu people in Hokkaido. However, many people in Hokkaido are descendants of this group!

18. Brown Bears

There happens to be more brown bears in the Hokkaido region than anywhere else in Asia. In Hokkaido, there are currently three different populations of the brown bear. Be careful as you hike if you happen to see one!

19. Agriculture

Hokkaido happens to be the biggest producer of agricultural products in Japan. This includes wheat, potatoes, milk, corn and pumpkins. They are also responsible for a huge part of the timber industry.

20. Shiroi Koibito Park

Shiroi Kobito Park is like Japan’s version of Hershey Park. The entire place is chocolate themed. Visitors can learn the process of chocolate making and enjoy some delicious sweets and the famous Shiroi Koibito biscuits.

Information

Hokkaido is a beautiful, natural oasis that is a great getaway. With its gorgeous mountains, it is definitely a can’t miss place to visit!

Have a good trip and travel.

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Asia, Hokkaido Prefecture, Hokkaido Region, Japan