Gifted with nature and amazing landscapes, Hokkaido is one of the most popular travel destinations of Japan. From multi coloured flower fields to world renowned ski resorts to praiseworthy snow festivals to refreshing local cuisines Hokkaido is all good things coming together. It boasts of having the freshest farm produces that leads to great food experiences. It is cold in winters and warm but not hot in summers, perfect for travelling expectations. It is home to 6 national parks, making it a great spot for outdoor travelling. This land of volcanoes has something amazing at its every turn. From all the treasures it beholds, here are top things to do.
Sapporo Snow Festival – It is the biggest winter festival of Japan, held in month of February. It features around 250 snow and ice sculptures depicting temples, cartoons, and other figures across Odori Park, Tsudome, and Susukino in its capital city. It attracts up to 2 million visitors each year.
Otaru – This charming port city is only 30 minutes ride from Sapporo. It is popular for its glass ware and music boxes. You’ll get to eat best fried chicken of your life. It also hosts a snow festival, Otaru Snow Light Path pretty popular locally. Here you’ll find abundant of sushi bars and sake distilleries.
Goryokaku – Built in 19th century, this five pointed star shaped fort is a must see for its military ingenuity to eliminate blind spots. It is surrounded by moat, though nothing much is left of fort, but complex houses a museum exhibiting its history. The complex garden is home to 1600 cherry trees.
Odori Park – Located in heart of city, and is spread across 13 blocks. It consists of flower gardens, and 400 lilac trees. In summer it hosts beer garden, autumns are time of food festival, and winters for snow festival.It is a peoples place with lots of benches, fountains and sculptures in between.
Otaru Canal – It is one of most popular attraction of Otaru. It is lined with warehouses from 19th century that are blend of traditional Japanese architecture and western style, which are now converted into shops, eateries, museums, and cafes. With lamps by its side, it is romantic too.
Niseko Ski Resort – Popular for its fine quality powder snow, it is perfect for skiing and snow boarding. No snow cannons are used here leading to great experience. With Mount Yotei, little brother of Mt. Fuji in backdrop, it is picture worthy too. It is home to more than 6 ski areas.
Hell Valley – It is the most active geothermal site of island. This out of the world terrain consists of Steaming Rivers, sulphurous ponds, and bubbling lakes. It is located in the crater of volcanic Kuttara-san. It has many hiking trails around it. Nearby Oyunuma Pond has temp up to 130 degree Celsius.
Blue Pond – This man made marvel was built to protect the nearby town from mudflow after a volcanic eruption. It has cobalt blue waters with hundreds of bare Japanese larch trees half submerged in it. It is quite popular amidst photographers. Nearby also is White Beard waterfalls.
Furano – It is home to soft lavender fields of Farm Tomita, spread over 20 hectares. The purple lavender and other colourful flowers provide perfect rainbow backdrop for stunning pictures. It also offers activities like mountain biking, canyoning and rafting, and serves as a ski resort in winters.
Shiretoko National Park – It translates into ‘The end of the world’, and is a UNESCO world heritage site. Being remote, it can only be accessed by boat or by foot. Here you’ll get to spot wildlife like migratory birds, Sika deer and brown bears, with landscape built of forests, waterfalls and coastlines.
Lake Mashu – Located in Akan National Park within a volcanic crater, it is known for having the clearest water in the world. It is unique for displaying changes in the surface with change in weather. Usually thick fog surrounds it making it beautiful. It has 3 observation points and many hiking trails.
Unkai Terrace – It translates into Sea of Cloud, and is one of the most picturesque spots in Hokkaido. It is open from May to October. The top spot is only 15 minute gondola ride away, and best views can be expected early morning. Even if you miss them, you’ll get to see views of Hidaka Mountains.
Mt. Moiwa – This spot offers spectacular 360 degree views of City Sapporo. Best times to visit are in evenings and night when the city is lit. On observatory deck area also is a Bell of Happiness which is believed to bring good fortune to couples who ring it. It is one of most romantic spots in Hokkaido.
Asahiyama Zoo – It is Japan’s northernmost Zoo, one of most popular one that attracts millions of visitors a year. It is home to Blakiston’s Fish Owl, brown bear, Hokkaidō deer, red foxes, amongst others, while tropical friends include polar bears, seals and penguins, in their natural habitat.
ShikotsuToya National Park–Named after two popular lakes, Toya and Shikotsu, it is quite close to Sapporo. It offers experiences like hiking to hot springs, and is home to caldera lakes, onsen towns and volcanic mountains. The waters in lake are known for their quality and offers great kayaking.