Hokkaido is Japan’s gem. An island abundant in natural beauty, it is the perfect destination for those who seek a relaxed vacation. Attractive in any season, with an amazing cuisine and interesting customs, it is a place you must pass by if visiting Japan. Here are 15 reasons why you must visit Hokkaido!
Hokkaido is well known for its delicious seafood, which is said to be the best in the entire world. The waters that surround the island are highly nutritious, providing the perfect environment for fishes and other sea creatures. The seafood here has a deeper taste, so people from all over the country travel especially to taste it. Fresh seafood include: crabs, sea urchins, salmon, scallops, mackerel, oysters, tuna, etc. While these are used in various dishes, the best way to enjoy them is raw!
Hokkaido is renowned for fresh dairy sweets like cookies, biscuits and cakes. The products also don’t contain many preservatives, which makes them even tastier, but there’s of course a downside: their expiration date comes faster. This is why most Hokkaido sweets can only be found in the region – taking them to other cities would take too much time. There are famous sweets like Marusei Butter Sand cookies, Shiroi Koibito biscuits, Mifuyu Matcha wafers and Royce chocolate.
The region has many fruit orchards that grow strawberries, cherries, grapes, plums, apples, pears, blueberries, etc. Besides buying tasty fresh fruit from stores and supermarkets, you can also go to a farm and pick them! Many orchards allow visitors to pick and eat fruit with a prior reservation. Besides being amazingly delicious, the views are also spectacular and the experience will leave you great memories!
The Furano city in Hokkaido is famous for its beautiful flower fields. Spring brings lupines and tulips while summer is colored by blue salvia, poppies, lavender, and sunflowers. The fall season is represented by yellow mustard and dahlias. The flowers can be observed in several farms that allow visitors to enter their grounds, some even organizing special tours where people can ride tractors among the flowers. It is also a nice to walk among the wild flowers that fill the surrounding mountains.
Hokkaido’s landscape is paradise like with a lot of high picturesque mountains. The most interesting are: Mount Hakodate, Mount Moiwa, Mount Asahidake, Mount Iouzan, Mount Tengu, Mount Daisetsuzan and Mount Yotei. All these combined with bubbling rivers and peaceful lakes make some amazing sights. Hiking trips with different difficulty levels can be organized on all mountains, while some of them have cable cars and gondolas.
Hokkaido is famous for skiing, with many ski resorts and ski competitions organized every year. The northern location and high mountains favors snowfalls and the powder snow here is said to be the best in the world. Famous ski resorts include Niseko, Rusutsu, Furano, Tomamu and Sapporo Teine. The slopes have various inclinations, fitted for any kind of experience level. As there are slopes suited even for kids, skiing in the region is a perfect family activity.
The north of Japan is home to many unique festivals. The interesting of all take place during winter, represented by the Sapporo Snow festival and Otaru Snow Light Path festival. Both are held approximately at the same time so that visitors can take part in both. During the Sapporo Snow festival, the parks in the city are filled with hundreds of snow and ice statues of different sizes, while the Otaru Snow Light Path festival consists of light decorations and small snow statues.
Sapporo, the island’s capital, is a shopper’s paradise. The city is filled with huge malls that have hundreds of shops. You can find everything you ever dreamed of: women’s, men’s and kids’ clothes, shoes, souvenirs, toys, cosmetics, jewelry and electronics. Many shops are underground, are roofed or have underground passages connected to the train stations, so that people can comfortably shop even during bad weather. Some notable malls and shopping districts are: Sapporo Factory, Tanukikoji, Pole Town, Aurora Town and Lafiler.
With a northern location and with many mountainous areas, Hokkaido has a different climate than the rest of Japan. When the rest of the country is hot and humid, the temperatures on the island are very comfortable. This is what makes it a perfect summer destination. While temperatures in Tokyo are around 30 degrees, the ones in the north don’t go past 26 degrees. A lot of people travel to Hokkaido during the summer months to escape the scorching heat.
Hokkaido doesn’t have such a large population like some other areas in Japan. If we compare the biggest cities, Tokyo has seven times more people than Sapporo. The region also has many rural cities, with large fields and mountainous areas. The streets are much less crowded and quieter. It is easier to find peaceful places to take a walk and relax. The perfect destination for those who are not comfortable around big crowds and just want a relaxed vacation.
11. Hot springs
The island is abundant in natural hot springs, with many hot spring resorts such as Noboribetsu, Toyako, Yunokawa, Sounkyo, Utoro, Niseko, Tokachigawa, Akanko and Kawayu. The hot spring baths are often combined with amazing landscapes, like lush green forests and tall mountains. While a good activity in any season, bathing in a hot spring is especially nice in winter, when the surroundings are covered in snow, the outside temperatures are low but the water is still hot.
12. Interesting attractions
The capital, Sapporo, houses many interesting attractions that are worth visiting: the unique Moerenuma Park, decorated in a modern way by the sculptor Isamu Noguchi, Sapporo Clock Tower, the famous landmark of the city, the old Sapporo Beer Museum, which is the place where Japanese beer was born or Shiroi Koibito Park, a theme park by the Ishiya chocolate company where visitors can see chocolate related exhibits, observe how the products are made and shop for the company’s sweets.
Hokkaido has quite a few old historical buildings such as Matsumae Castle, which is the northernmost castle in Japan, Hokkaido Jingu, a popular Shinto shrine that enshrines the Emperor Meiji among three other gods or the Goryokaku fort, a star shaped citadel that was built in a western style. Visitors can also learn more about the history of Hokkaido at the Historic Village in Sapporo, an open air museum that exhibits around 60 old buildings that are specific to the region.
As mentioned earlier, the island’s population is not so numerous compared to the rest of Japan. As a result, roads in Hokkaido are not so crowded with cars, making them perfect for cycling enthusiasts or people who want to do a relaxing activity. All roads are in good condition, with smooth asphalt surfaces. Bicycles can be rented in a lot of spots thorough the region, at hotels, ryokans or special renting centers.
Hokkaido has thousands of traditional Japanese Inns with amazing views of the surrounding nature. The conditions and services offered by ryokans are top notch. Traditional décor, futon bedding, hot spring baths, body massages, Japanese cuisine and even dance performances. What makes ryokans in Hokkaido even more special is that many of them are located on scenic lake shores or next to picturesque mountains. Staying at a ryokan in the area is an experience nobody should miss!
Hokkaido is waiting for you! Have a good trip and travel!