Are you looking for a unique and adventurous travel destination? Look no further than the beautiful island of Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost prefecture. With its stunning natural landscapes, rich cultural heritage, and delicious cuisine, Hokkaido has something for every type of traveler. Join us as we explore 10 of the most fun and exciting things to do in this amazing region.
Explore the Great Outdoors
Hokkaido, the northernmost island of Japan, is a nature lover’s paradise. With its breathtaking national parks, world-renowned ski resorts, and unique natural wonders, there is no shortage of outdoor adventures to be had on this stunning island.
Visit the Breathtaking National Parks
Hokkaido is home to some of the most beautiful national parks in Japan. Daisetsuzan National Park, located in the center of the island, boasts rugged peaks, alpine meadows, and pristine lakes. The park is a popular destination for hikers, with trails ranging from easy strolls to challenging multi-day treks. Shiretoko National Park, on the northeastern tip of the island, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its stunning waterfalls, hot springs, and abundant wildlife. Visitors can take a boat tour to see the park’s famous drift ice or hike to the top of Mount Rausu for panoramic views of the Sea of Okhotsk.
Other notable national parks on Hokkaido include Akan Mashu National Park, known for its crystal-clear lakes and active volcanoes, and Shikotsu-Toya National Park, which boasts hot springs, ski resorts, and the scenic Lake Toya.
Ski or Snowboard in Niseko
Niseko, located on the western side of Hokkaido, is renowned as one of the best ski and snowboard destinations in the world. The town receives an average of 15 meters of snowfall each year, creating perfect powder conditions for winter sports enthusiasts. Niseko boasts four interconnected ski resorts, each with its own unique terrain and stunning views of Mount Yotei, Hokkaido’s answer to Mount Fuji. After a day on the slopes, visitors can enjoy the town’s lively après-ski scene, which includes hot springs, restaurants, and bars.
Discover the Blue Pond in Biei
The stunning Blue Pond in Biei is one of Hokkaido’s hidden gems. Located in the town of Shirogane, the pond is named for its mesmerizing shade of blue, which is caused by natural minerals in the surrounding soil. The pond was originally created as part of an erosion control system for a nearby dam, but its unique color and picturesque setting have made it a popular tourist destination. Visitors can take a stroll along the boardwalk, snap some breathtaking photos, and immerse themselves in the serene beauty of this unique natural wonder.
Hike Mount Asahidake
Rising 2,291 meters above sea level, Mount Asahidake is Hokkaido’s tallest mountain. Avid hikers and outdoor enthusiasts will love the challenge of climbing to the summit, where stunning panoramic views of the surrounding landscape await. The mountain is part of the Daisetsuzan National Park and is accessible via a cable car that takes visitors to the eighth station. From there, hikers can choose from a variety of trails that range in difficulty and length. Don’t forget to pack plenty of water and snacks for this exhilarating adventure.
Whether you’re seeking adventure, natural beauty, or simply a break from the hustle and bustle of city life, Hokkaido’s great outdoors has something for everyone. So pack your bags, lace up your hiking boots, and get ready to explore this stunning island.
Immerse Yourself in Japanese Culture
If you’re looking for an authentic Japanese cultural experience, look no further than Hokkaido. This northern island is home to some of the country’s most fascinating historical sites, as well as some of its most stunning natural scenery. Here are just a few of the many ways you can immerse yourself in Japanese culture during your visit.
Stroll Through Otaru Canal
Otaru Canal is a picturesque waterway that runs through the heart of the historic port town of Otaru. Lined with old-fashioned street lamps, charming cafes, and boutique shops, this scenic boardwalk offers a glimpse into Hokkaido’s rich cultural past. Take a leisurely stroll and soak up the ambiance of this unique destination.
As you walk along the canal, you’ll notice many of the buildings have been preserved from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. These buildings were once used as warehouses to store goods that were shipped in and out of the port. Today, many of them have been converted into museums, galleries, and shops, giving visitors a chance to learn more about the town’s history and culture.
Visit Historical Hakodate
Hakodate is a city rich in history and culture. From the iconic star-shaped Goryokaku fort to the traditional red brick warehouses of the Motomachi district, there are countless opportunities to delve into the past and learn about Japan’s fascinating history. Don’t forget to sample some of the city’s famous seafood and sake while you’re there.
The Goryokaku fort is particularly noteworthy for its unique shape, which was designed to provide maximum visibility and protection for the soldiers stationed there. Today, visitors can explore the fort and learn about its role in Japan’s history. Meanwhile, the Motomachi district is home to a number of beautifully preserved buildings from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, including the Old Public Hall of Hakodate Ward, which now serves as a museum.
Experience a Traditional Onsen
No trip to Hokkaido would be complete without experiencing a traditional Japanese onsen. These soothing hot springs are said to have healing properties, and are a popular way for locals and visitors alike to relax and unwind. Whether you choose to luxuriate in a private onsen or mingle with the locals in a public one, this is an experience that should not be missed.
One of the most popular onsen destinations in Hokkaido is the town of Noboribetsu, which is home to a number of different hot springs with varying mineral compositions. Some of the most famous include the Jigokudani (“Hell Valley”) onsen, which gets its name from the steam and sulfuric fumes that rise from the ground, and the Oyunuma onsen, which features a picturesque hot spring pond surrounded by trees.
Whatever your interests, Hokkaido has something to offer for everyone. From its rich cultural heritage to its stunning natural beauty, this northern island is a must-visit destination for anyone looking to experience the best of Japan.
Indulge in Hokkaido’s Culinary Delights
Hokkaido is a food lover’s paradise, offering a wide variety of culinary experiences that are sure to tantalize your taste buds. From fresh seafood to savory ramen and delicious dairy products, there is something for everyone to enjoy.
Savor Fresh Seafood at Nijo Market
Nijo Market in Sapporo is a must-visit destination for seafood lovers. The market is a bustling hub of activity, where you can find the freshest seafood straight from the source. From giant snow crabs and juicy scallops to rich and savory salmon roe, there is an endless array of delicious dishes to taste and enjoy. Don’t miss the chance to try Hokkaido’s famous uni (sea urchin) and ikura (salmon roe) – they are simply divine.
While you’re at Nijo Market, take the opportunity to explore the local shops and stalls. You’ll find a wide variety of unique and interesting souvenirs, as well as traditional Japanese snacks and sweets.
Taste the Famous Hokkaido Ramen
Ramen is a staple of Japanese cuisine, and Hokkaido boasts some of the best ramen shops in the country. Whether you prefer rich and savory miso ramen or lighter and more delicate shio ramen, there is a style of ramen to suit every taste. Don’t forget to try the famous Sapporo-style miso ramen, which is a local favorite.
Many ramen shops in Hokkaido also offer unique and creative twists on the classic dish. You might find ramen topped with butter, corn, or even cheese – all of which add an extra layer of flavor and richness to the already delicious broth.
Enjoy Local Dairy Products and Sweets
Hokkaido is known for its delicious dairy products and sweet treats, thanks in part to the region’s cool climate and abundant pastures. From rich and creamy ice cream to delicate and flaky croissants, there is no shortage of mouth-watering indulgences to savor.
One of the most popular dairy products in Hokkaido is the rich and creamy milk, which is used to make a variety of delicious treats. You’ll find milk soft serve ice cream, milk pudding, and even milk-flavored candy. If you’re a cheese lover, be sure to try Hokkaido’s famous camembert and blue cheese – they are some of the best in the world.
For something sweet, try Hokkaido’s famous Shiroi Koibito cookies. These delicate and buttery cookies are filled with white chocolate and are a favorite souvenir among visitors to the region. You might also want to try the local specialty, zenzai – a sweet red bean soup served with mochi (rice cakes) – which is a popular winter treat in Hokkaido.
No matter what your tastes are, Hokkaido is sure to have something to satisfy your cravings. From fresh seafood to mouth-watering sweets, the region’s culinary delights are not to be missed.
Attend Unique Festivals and Events
If you’re looking for a unique and unforgettable experience, attending festivals and events in Hokkaido should be at the top of your list. From snow sculptures to lavender fields to dance and music, there’s something for everyone.
Witness the Sapporo Snow Festival
The Sapporo Snow Festival is one of Japan’s most iconic winter events. Held every February, this festival features incredible snow sculptures that are truly works of art. From life-sized characters to towering castles, the sculptures are a sight to behold. But the festival offers more than just snow sculptures. Visitors can enjoy live music, ice-skating, and snow slides. And of course, no festival is complete without food and drink. Sample delicious Hokkaido specialties like soup curry and fresh seafood. This festival is a must-see for anyone visiting Hokkaido in winter.
Experience the Lavender Fields in Furano
If you’re visiting Hokkaido in the summer, don’t miss the opportunity to see the lavender fields in Furano. From late June to early August, the rolling hills of Furano are covered in fragrant lavender blooms. Take a stroll through the fields and breathe in the sweet scent of lavender. You can also visit a lavender spa for a relaxing experience, or try some lavender-infused cuisine. The lavender ice cream is a must-try! This is an unforgettable experience for nature lovers and those who appreciate the simple pleasures of life.
Join the Yosakoi Soran Festival
The Yosakoi Soran Festival is a lively celebration of Japanese dance and music. Held every June in Sapporo, this festival brings together performers from all over Japan. The streets of Sapporo come alive with colorful costumes, infectious rhythms, and joyful energy. You can join the crowds and dance along with the performers, or simply enjoy the vibrant atmosphere. There are also food stalls selling delicious snacks and drinks. This festival is a great way to experience Japanese culture and have fun at the same time.
In conclusion, Hokkaido is a fascinating and endlessly entertaining destination that is sure to delight travelers of all ages and interests. Whether you’re into outdoor adventures, cultural immersions, or culinary delights, Hokkaido has something for you. So what are you waiting for? Start planning your Hokkaido getaway today and experience the magic of these unique festivals and events.