Hokkaido is the northernmost island of Japan, located in the country’s Hokkaido region. It is the second-largest island in Japan and serves as both a prefecture and a distinct geographical and cultural region. Hokkaido is separated from the main Honshu island by the Tsugaru Strait.
In this post, we will give you several factors that contribute to why numerous individuals opt for Hokkaido as their destination when visiting Japan:
One of the standout features of Hokkaido is its majestic mountains that soar high into the sky, offering breathtaking vistas. Mount Asahi and Mount Daisetsuzan, with their snow-capped peaks, stand as icons of the island’s grandeur. These mountains not only provide a thrilling challenge for hikers and mountaineers but also reward them with panoramic views that extend as far as the eye can see.
In addition to its imposing mountains, Hokkaido boasts an array of picturesque lakes that exude tranquility and serenity. Lake Shikotsu and Lake Toya are among the most cherished gems, their crystal-clear waters reflecting the surrounding landscapes like mirrors. These lakes offer a serene escape where visitors can immerse themselves in the soothing ambiance, take leisurely walks along the shores, or even engage in various water activities like boating or kayaking.
Another enchanting aspect of Hokkaido is its blooming flower fields, which add bursts of vibrant colors to the island’s already captivating scenery. Among these floral wonders, the lavender fields in Furano stand out as an iconic attraction. When summer arrives, the vast expanses of lavender create a mesmerizing sight, captivating the senses with their intoxicating fragrance and hues ranging from pale lavender to deep purple. The lavender fields of Furano have become an iconic symbol of Hokkaido’s beauty, attracting visitors from all corners of the world who come to witness this breathtaking floral spectacle firsthand.
In the winter months, when the island transforms into a glistening wonderland, visitors can immerse themselves in thrilling winter sports. Hokkaido’s renowned ski resorts, such as Niseko, Rusutsu, and Furano, provide world-class facilities and powdery slopes that attract skiers and snowboarders from around the globe. The region’s abundant snowfall creates a paradise for snow enthusiasts, who can carve their way down the slopes, experience the adrenaline rush of freestyle jumps, or embark on tranquil cross-country skiing adventures through enchanting winter landscapes.
For those seeking a slower pace amidst the winter wonderland, snowshoeing presents an opportunity to explore the pristine, snow-covered forests and mountains. Traversing through secluded trails, visitors can marvel at the quietude of nature, the crisp air filling their lungs, and the rhythmic crunch of snow beneath their feet.
As the seasons change and Hokkaido’s wilderness awakens, hiking becomes a popular activity, allowing visitors to delve deeper into the island’s natural treasures. Hokkaido boasts an extensive network of hiking trails, ranging from gentle paths meandering through flower-filled meadows to challenging routes that lead to the summit of majestic peaks. The region’s national parks, including the awe-inspiring Shiretoko National Park and the serene Akan Mashu National Park, offer a haven for wildlife enthusiasts and nature lovers alike. Within these protected areas, visitors can witness the diverse ecosystems of Hokkaido, spot rare and endemic species, and marvel at the unspoiled beauty that surrounds them.
The wilderness of Hokkaido is not only a haven for winter sports and hiking but also an ideal setting for camping and nature retreats. The island provides numerous campsites where visitors can immerse themselves in the tranquility of nature, enjoying evenings by the campfire, stargazing under clear skies, and awakening to the gentle sounds of the forest or the soothing lapping of waves on the shores.
Hot springs (Onsen)
Hokkaido has numerous hot springs scattered throughout the island. These natural hot springs are known as onsen and provide a relaxing and rejuvenating experience.
Nestled amidst Hokkaido’s diverse topography, from snow-covered mountains to idyllic valleys, onsen resorts and towns offer an oasis of tranquility for visitors seeking respite from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Noboribetsu Onsen, often referred to as the “Valley of Hell,” captivates guests with its surreal landscape of steaming vents, boiling mud pits, and sulfurous springs, which contribute to its distinct charm. The town boasts a wide range of onsen facilities, each with its unique mineral composition and health benefits, ensuring that visitors find their perfect retreat. From open-air baths where one can soak while surrounded by nature’s splendor to luxurious indoor spas with modern amenities, Noboribetsu Onsen caters to every preference and offers an unforgettable bathing experience.
Another renowned onsen destination in Hokkaido is Jozankei Onsen, nestled in a picturesque valley enveloped by lush forests. As visitors venture into this serene haven, they are greeted by the soothing sound of the Jozankei River and the alluring fragrance of the surrounding flora. Jozankei Onsen boasts a variety of accommodations that range from traditional ryokans to modern resorts, each featuring their unique hot spring baths that showcase breathtaking views of the surrounding nature. The mineral-rich waters of Jozankei Onsen are said to have healing properties, providing not only relaxation but also potential health benefits for those who indulge in their soothing embrace.
Here experiences long and snowy winters, making it an ideal destination for winter enthusiasts. The island boasts excellent ski resorts, such as Niseko, Rusutsu, and Furano, where visitors can enjoy world-class skiing and snowboarding. The Sapporo Snow Festival held in February is another major attraction, featuring impressive snow and ice sculptures.
Unique Culture and Cuisine
The Ainu, Hokkaido’s indigenous people, have left an indelible mark on the island’s cultural landscape. Their traditions, customs, and deep-rooted spirituality have been preserved and celebrated, offering a glimpse into the island’s ancient history. Visitors can delve into the world of the Ainu at notable sites like the Ainu Museum in Shiraoi, where immersive exhibits showcase their traditional clothing, art, music, and folklore. Engaging with the Ainu culture allows travelers to gain a profound appreciation for Hokkaido’s unique heritage and the resilience of its indigenous people.
While cultural exploration is a remarkable aspect of Hokkaido, the island is equally renowned for its delectable culinary offerings. Hokkaido’s pristine natural environment and abundant resources make it a haven for food lovers. The region’s coastal location ensures a wealth of fresh seafood, with specialties ranging from succulent crab and melt-in-your-mouth uni (sea urchin) to delicate scallops and flavorful salmon. Savoring a seafood bowl, brimming with the day’s catch and adorned with vibrant colors, is an experience that exemplifies the true essence of Hokkaido’s culinary scene.
Furthermore, the island’s vast pastures and cool climate provide an ideal environment for dairy farming, resulting in creamy milk, rich butter, and exceptional cheeses. Indulging in Hokkaido’s dairy desserts is a must, with mouthwatering treats like soft-serve ice cream, decadent cheesecakes, and silky puddings delighting taste buds and leaving a lasting impression.
Compared to other popular tourist destinations in Japan, Hokkaido is relatively less crowded, especially outside major cities like Sapporo. This allows travelers to explore and enjoy the island’s attractions without feeling overwhelmed by crowds.