Hokkaido is Japan's second largest island after Honshu. And it is the northernmost and the largest prefecture. Hokkaido is colder than other islands in Japan. Because the development by Japanese has been delayed, there is a vast and beautiful nature in Hokkaido. On this page, I will introduce the outline of Hokkaido. If you look through this long article to the very end, you can almost understand Hokkaido as a whole. If you have an area of your interest, look at the table of contents below and look at that area.
Table of Contents
Outline of Hokkaido
Hokkaido, along with Honshu, Shikoku and Kyushu, is one of the four major islands that make up the Japanese archipelago. Like other Japanese islands, there are volcanoes in Hokkaido. So there are many spa resorts.
If you go to Hokkaido, I especially recommend two things.
First, why do not you enjoy the sightseeing of the unique cities of Hokkaido? There are beautiful cities representing Japan such as Sapporo, Hakodate, Otaru. Those cities are also very famous for having many delicious foods such as sushi and ramen.
Second, why do not you enjoy the amazing nature of Hokkaido? Hokkaido was not developed until the first half of the 20th century, so many wild nature is left. Flower fields and pastures built after that will also refresh your mind.
Nature in Hokkaido changes beautifully according to the change of the four seasons. In winter you can enjoy winter sports with amazing snow scenery. Spring and summer are comfortable, flower garden are wonderful. After September, you can enjoy magnificent autumn leaves.
When planning a trip to Hokkaido, I recommend you to combine city such as Sapporo and sightseeing spot rich in nature.
Climate and Weather
On this page, I will explain about the weather in Hokkaido in January. If you travel in Hokkaido in January, please do not forget enough winter protection such as a coat. In the west side of Hokkaido, the clouds coming from the Sea of Japan will snow and so much snow is piled up. On the east side of Hokkaido, snow does not fall as far as the west side. However, the temperature sometimes falls below freezing point 10 degrees. Please be careful. This article contains a lot of pictures to help you imagine the weather in January in Hokkaido, so please refer to them. Below are articles about the monthly weather in Hokkaido. Use the slider to select the month you wish to know more about. Below are some articles about the weather in Tokyo and Osaka in January. Tokyo and Osaka have different weather conditions from Hokkaido, so please be careful. Table of ContentsQ & A about Hokkaido in JanuaryWeather in Hokkaido in January (overview)Hokkaido weather in early JanuaryHokkaido weather in the middle of JanuaryHokkaido weather in late JanuaryRecommended Videos Q & A about Hokkaido in January Does snow fall in January in Hokkaido? It snows all over Hokkaido in January. Especially from mid-January, there is a lot of snow. Moist clouds coming from the Sea of Japan hit Hokkaido mountains and cause snow. It snows often in Niseko, Otaru and Sapporo near the Sea of Japan. On the other hand, in eastern Hokkaido on the Pacific side, it is very cold, but ...
In February, a lot of winter festivals are held in Hokkaido, including the Sapporo Snow Festival. For this reason, there are many people going to Hokkaido at this time. However, in February, Hokkaido is very cold. If you plan to travel in February, please do not forget enough protection from the cold. On this page I will provide details about the weather of Hokkaido in February. This article contains a lot of pictures to help you imagine the weather in February in Hokkaido, so please refer to them. Below are articles about the monthly weather in Hokkaido. Slide through and select the month you want to know more about. Below are articles about the weather in Tokyo and Osaka in February. Tokyo and Osaka have different weather conditions from Hokkaido, so please be careful. Table of ContentsQ & A about Hokkaido in FebruaryWeather in Hokkaido in February (overview)Hokkaido weather in early FebruaryHokkaido weather in the middle of FebruaryHokkaido weather in late February Q & A about Hokkaido in February Does snow fall in February in Hokkaido? It snows very well in Hokkaido in February. There may be a lot of snow piled up. How cold is Hokkaido in February? February is a very cold time along with January. Especially in the first half of February, the daytime maximum temperature is almost below freezing. What kind of clothes should we wear in February in Hokkaido? In February, in Hokkaido you need full-fledged winter clothing. For winter clothes in Hokkaido, please refer to the following article. When ...
The Japanese archipelago enters a transition period from winter to spring every March. The weather is unstable and the wind is strong at this time of year. Even in Hokkaido, the temperature will gradually rise and you will feel that spring is approaching. However, in Hokkaido you must not neglect cold weather countermeasures. Even in March, snow falls often in Hokkaido. By late March, there will be more rain than snow. However, at ski resorts such as Niseko, you can continue to enjoy a world of snow. On this page, I will discuss Hokkaido weather in March. This article contains many pictures that will help you imagine March weather in Hokkaido, so please refer to them. Below are articles about the monthly weather in Hokkaido. Use the slider to select the month you wish to know more about. Below are articles on the weather in Tokyo and Osaka in March. Tokyo and Osaka have different weather conditions from Hokkaido, so please be careful. Table of ContentsQ & A about Hokkaido in MarchWeather in Hokkaido in March (overview)Hokkaido weather in early MarchHokkaido weather in the middle of MarchHokkaido weather in late March Q & A about Hokkaido in March Does snow fall in March in Hokkaido? Snow falls in Hokkaido even in March but spring is gradually approaching. You can enjoy winter sports in Niseko, etc., but with more warm days during this time in urban areas the snow will begin to melt. How cold is Hokkaido in March? Hokkaido in March is still in the ...
On this page, I will discuss the weather in Hokkaido during the month of April. The weather of Hokkaido is quite different from Tokyo. In Hokkaido, snow may still fall even in April. It gets much warmer during the day but sometimes it is pretty cold, so take caution. This article contains many pictures that will help you imagine the weather in April in Hokkaido, so please refer to them. Below are articles about the monthly weather in Hokkaido. Use the slider to select the month you wish to know more about. Below are articles about the weather in Tokyo and Osaka in April. Tokyo and Osaka have different weather conditions from Hokkaido, so please be careful. Table of ContentsQ & A about Hokkaido in AprilWeather in Hokkaido in April (overview)Hokkaido weather in early AprilHokkaido weather in the middle of AprilHokkaido weather in late April Q & A about Hokkaido in April Does snow fall in April in Hokkaido? In the first half of April, snow may fall in some cities such as Asahikawa and Sapporo. However, in urban areas, you will generally find it difficult to find snow covered landscapes. On the other hand, snow still falls in the mountains. You can still enjoy winter sports at Niseko and other ski resorts. How cold is Hokkaido in April? The temperature of Hokkaido will gradually rise in April. By mid-April, the daytime maximum temperature will exceed 10 degrees Celsius. In urban areas such as Sapporo, cherry blossoms begin to bloom in late April as spring ...
On this page, I will introduce Hokkaido weather in May. At this time, full-scale spring comes to Hokkaido. The cherry blossoms bloom one month later than Tokyo and then the trees turn to a wonderful fresh green. You will be able to explore beautiful tourist areas with a pleasant climate. This article contains a lot of pictures to help you imagine the weather in May in Hokkaido, so please refer to them. Below are articles about the monthly weather in Hokkaido. Use the slider to select the month you wish to know more about. Below are articles about the weather in Tokyo and Osaka in May. Tokyo and Osaka have different weather conditions from Hokkaido, so please be careful. Table of ContentsQ & A about Hokkaido in MayWeather in Hokkaido in May (overview)Hokkaido weather in early MayHokkaido weather in the middle of MayHokkaido weather in late May Q & A about Hokkaido in May Does snow fall in May in Hokkaido? There is no snow in Hokkaido in May. However, in some large ski resorts such as Niseko, you can ski until about May 6th. How cold is Hokkaido in May? Hokkaido has a spring climate in May. You can travel comfortably. What kind of clothes should we wear in May in Hokkaido? Spring clothes are desirable in May. For spring clothes in Japan, please refer to the following article. When is the best time to visit Hokkaido? If you want to enjoy winter snowy landscapes then January and February are the best months. If ...
If you plan to travel in Japan during June, I recommend that you add Hokkaido to your itinerary. Japan is generally rainy and humid in June. However, there are not so many rainy days in Hokkaido. Unlike Tokyo and Osaka, you will enjoy a pleasant time in terms of weather. On this page, I will discuss the weather in Hokkaido during the month of June. Below are articles about the monthly weather in Hokkaido. Use the slider to select the month you wish to know more about. Below are articles on the weather in Tokyo and Osaka in June. Tokyo and Osaka have different weather conditions from Hokkaido, so please be careful. Table of ContentsQ & A about Hokkaido in JuneWeather in Hokkaido in June (overview)Hokkaido weather in early JuneHokkaido weather in the middle of JuneHokkaido weather in late June Q & A about Hokkaido in June Does snow fall in June in Hokkaido? There is no snow in Hokkaido in June. Are flowers blooming in Hokkaido in June? In Furano and Biei in Hokkaido, lavender begins to bloom from late June. Poppy and lupine also bloom in this month. How cold is Hokkaido in June? The season changes from spring to summer in Hokkaido in June. Generally, it's not cold, but it can be cool in the morning and evening. What kind of clothes should we wear in June in Hokkaido? Spring clothes are recommended for a comfortable trip to Hokkaido in June. For spring clothes in Japan, please refer to the following article. ...
On this page, I will discuss the weather of Hokkaido in July. July is definitely the best season for sightseeing. Every July, many tourists from Japan and abroad come to Hokkaido. In Hokkaido, it is rare that it will get as hot as Tokyo or Osaka. The temperature drop in the morning and evening will be relieving, so you should be able to enjoy a truly comfortable trip. Below are articles about the monthly weather in Hokkaido. Use the slider to select the month you wish to know more about. Below are articles about the weather in Tokyo and Osaka in July. Tokyo and Osaka have different weather conditions from Hokkaido, so please be careful. Table of ContentsQ & A about Hokkaido in JulyWeather in Hokkaido in July (overview)Hokkaido weather in early JulyHokkaido weather in the middle of JulyHokkaido weather in late July Q & A about Hokkaido in July Does snow fall in July in Hokkaido? There is no snow in Hokkaido in July. Are flowers blooming in Hokkaido in July? Lavender will reach its peak in Hokkaido in July. Especially from the middle of July the flower fields are beautiful. How cold is Hokkaido in July? Hokkaido will have a summer tourist season in July. It is not cold, but it is cool in the morning and evening. What kind of clothes should we wear in July in Hokkaido? Summer clothes will be fine in July. However, it is cool in the morning and evening in Hokkaido, so please bring a jacket or ...
August is said to be the best season for sightseeing in Hokkaido. However, recently, due to global warming, the typhoon attacking Japan is increasing, and the damage of typhoons has become noticeable even in Hokkaido, which was said to have no influence of typhoons until now. Although Hokkaido is basically comfortable in August, please be aware of the latest weather forecast. On this page, I will explain the Hokkaido weather in August. In order to make it easy to imagine the weather in August, I will include photos taken in August below. Please refer when you plan your itinerary. Below are articles about the monthly weather in Hokkaido. Use the slider to select the month you wish to know more about. Below are articles on the weather in Tokyo and Osaka in August. Tokyo and Osaka have different weather conditions from Hokkaido, so please be careful. Table of ContentsQ & A about Hokkaido in AugustWeather in Hokkaido in August (overview)Hokkaido weather in early AugustHokkaido weather in the middle of AugustHokkaido weather in late August Q & A about Hokkaido in August Does snow fall in August in Hokkaido? There is no snow in Hokkaido in August. Are flowers blooming in Hokkaido in August? In Hokkaido, various flowers bloom in the flower fields and they become very colorful. Lavender blooms until the beginning of August. How cold is Hokkaido in August? Even in Hokkaido, it is hot in the daytime in August. But the morning and evening are relatively cool. What kind of clothes should we ...
On this page, I will explain about the weather in Hokkaido in September. September is the time of transition from summer to autumn. So, in Hokkaido, it gets pretty cool even in the daytime. The weather is a bit unstable and the days of rain increase. But at the same time, the number of tourists is considerably reduced compared to August. You will be able to travel leisurely. Below are articles about the monthly weather in Hokkaido. Use the slider to select the month you wish to know more about. Below are articles on the weather in Tokyo and Osaka in September. Tokyo and Osaka have different weather conditions from Hokkaido, so please be careful. Table of ContentsQ & A about Hokkaido in SeptemberWeather in Hokkaido in September (overview)Hokkaido weather in early SeptemberHokkaido weather in the middle of SeptemberHokkaido weather in late September Q & A about Hokkaido in September Does snow fall in September in Hokkaido? Basically, no snow falls in Hokkaido in September. However, it starts snowing in September at the top of mountain areas such as Daisetsuzan. Are flowers blooming in Hokkaido in September? Even in September, beautiful flowers are blooming in Hokkaido. However, lavender flowers are not blooming. How cold is Hokkaido in September? In September, the morning and evening are pretty cool. What kind of clothes should we wear in September in Hokkaido? Autumn clothes are desirable in Hokkaido in September. For the fall clothes in Japan, please refer to the following article. When is the best time to visit ...
On this page, I will explain the weather in Hokkaido in October. During this period, Hokkaido is in autumn. Autumn leaves are beautiful even in cities such as Sapporo from mid-October. However, it is cold in the morning and evening, so please pack your winter clothes in a suitcase. Below are articles about the monthly weather in Hokkaido. Use the slider to select the month you wish to know more about. Below are articles on the weather in Tokyo and Osaka in October. Tokyo and Osaka have different weather conditions from Hokkaido, so please be careful. Table of ContentsQ & A about Hokkaido in OctoberWeather in Hokkaido in October (overview)Hokkaido weather in early OctoberHokkaido weather in the middle of OctoberHokkaido weather in late October Q & A about Hokkaido in October Does snow fall in October in Hokkaido? Snow falls in mountain areas such as Daisetsuzan. Even in plains such as Sapporo, there are occasions when the first snow falls in late October. However, October is basically the autumnal season in the plains. Are flowers blooming in Hokkaido in October? The flowering season has passed, but by the middle of October you can see some flowers. You may be able to see the snowy mountains in the distance. How cold is Hokkaido in October? Hokkaido is a short fall in October. However, in late October, the morning and evening temperatures will drop to around 5 ° C, and a long winter will be approaching. What kind of clothes should we wear in October in Hokkaido? ...
On this page, I will introduce about the weather in Hokkaido in November. Beautiful autumn leaves were seen in October, but leaves fall from the deciduous trees in November. Full-fledged winter will come. Please prepare enough winter clothes before you leave for Hokkaido. Below are articles about the monthly weather in Hokkaido. Use the slider to select the month you wish to know more about. Below are articles on the weather in Tokyo and Osaka in November. Tokyo and Osaka have different weather conditions from Hokkaido, so please be careful. Table of ContentsQ & A about Hokkaido in NovemberWeather in Hokkaido in November (overview)Hokkaido weather in early NovemberHokkaido weather in the middle of NovemberHokkaido weather in late November Q & A about Hokkaido in November Does snow fall in November in Hokkaido? In Hokkaido, it sometimes begins to snow from November. However, the snow has not accumulated yet and will melt. In late November, depending on the area, snow will gradually accumulate. How cold is Hokkaido in November? In Hokkaido, winter begins in November. It will still exceed 10 degrees Celsius in the daytime, but will be below freezing in the morning and evening. Hokkaido in November is colder than Tokyo in December. What kind of clothes should we wear in November in Hokkaido? You need a court in November. It may be better to wear tights under the pants, especially in late November. It is sometimes slippery with snow in late November. I recommend wearing boots instead of heels. Please refer to the following articles about ...
If you plan to go to Hokkaido in December, you will be wondering how cold it is. So, on this page, I will discuss the weather in Hokkaido for the month of December. Hokkaido is much colder than Tokyo and Osaka. On the west side of Japan, snow falls often so please do not forget your coat and other warm accessories. Below are articles about the monthly weather in Hokkaido. Please select the month you wish to know about. Below are articles about the weather in Tokyo and Osaka in December. Tokyo and Osaka have different weather conditions from Hokkaido, so please be careful. Table of ContentsQ & A about Hokkaido in DecemberWeather in Hokkaido in December (overview)Hokkaido weather in early DecemberHokkaido weather in the middle of DecemberHokkaido weather in late December Q & A about Hokkaido in December Does snow fall in December in Hokkaido? It snows often in Hokkaido in December. Snow is piled up in ski areas such as Niseko. However, in cities such as Sapporo, it is from about the middle of December that snow begins to stick. How cold is Hokkaido in December? Hokkaido is very cold in December. The maximum daytime temperature is below 2 degrees Celsius, especially after mid-December. What kind of clothes should we wear in December in Hokkaido? In December, you need adequate winter protection. For more on the clothing to wear in Hokkaido in winter, please refer to the following article if you’d like. When is the best time to visit Hokkaido? If you want ...
Photos: Sapporo in Hokkaido -Its Beautiful Four Seasons!
Sapporo is a city worth visiting many times. Whenever you go to Sapporo, you will find wonderful scenery. On this page, I have posted various photographs of Sapporo in spring, summer, autumn and winter. Please find Sapporo you haven't experienced yet. Table of ContentsPhotos of Sapporo in HokkaidoMap of Sapporo Photos of ...
Photos: Landscapes of Hokkaido's summer flower gardens
Every year from July to August, Hokkaido's lavender and other flower gardens are at their peak. Especially in Furano and Biei, beautiful colorful flowers are in full bloom. Let me take you to these flower gardens in Hokkaido on this page! Photos of theHokkaido's summer flower gardens Landscapes of Hokkaido's summer ...
Photos: Autumn Landscape in Hokkaido
Autumn in Hokkaido is short. A long winter comes after that. If you want to enjoy autumn leaves in Hokkaido, I recommend that you go in October. In urban areas such as Sapporo, the peak of autumn leaves is from mid-October to the end of October. As for Hokkaido's climate, I ...
Hokkaido is colder than other islands in Japan. Winter is long on this island, spring, summer, autumn is short. The first snow falls in early November, snow may fall even in early April. So it is after late April that cherry blossoms will bloom in Hokkaido. Later, various flowers start to bloom at once.
In other areas of Japan, the rainy season begin in June, but rainy season is rare in Hokkaido. Between July and the first half of August, Hokkaido has a beautiful short summer with vast grasslands and flower gardens. It is cooler than other areas. Autumn arrives in late August, and autumn leaves start in September from mountainous areas such as Daisetsuzan. In major cities such as Sapporo, autumn leaves reach its peak in mid - late October.
Photos: Winter landscape in Hokkaido
In Hokkaido, vast grasslands attract people with beautiful flowers in summer. And these grasslands are covered with snow from December to February. On this page, I will introduce the mysterious snow scene in Obihiro, Biei, Furano, etc. in central Hokkaido. Please refer to the following article for the details of Hokkaido. ...
Photos: The vast landscape of Hokkaido in winter -Asahikawa, Biei, Furano
In Hokkaido, the most popular tourist destination in winter is Sapporo. But if you want to enjoy the vast landscape in winter, I recommend going to Asahikawa, Biei and Furano. You will enjoy a truly pure world! Table of ContentsPhotos of the winter landscape in HokkaidoMap of Asahikawa Photos of the ...
Ski resorts are open from late November to early May. However, it varies slightly depending on the area. In major cities such as Sapporo and Asahikawa, snow begins to pile up from December. From the end of January to the middle of February the snow falls in the urban area is 70 to 80 cm. However, in urban areas, snow removal of the road is done.
From early February to late February, winter festivals such as the Sapporo Snow Festival are held in various places in Hokkaido.
Snow falls frequently in Hokkaido because wet clouds come from the Sea of Japan in the west. These clouds cause snow especially in the mountainous areas of the Japan Sea side such as Niseko. On the other hand, on the east side of Hokkaido, snow is less than the Japan Sea side.
For details of monthly temperature etc., please see the above articles.
There are not so many railways in Hokkaido compared to Honshu and Kyushu. Furthermore, traveling between major cities by train often takes several hours. Although it is a good idea to use rent-a-car, it takes time to move between tourist spots as well. The bullet train network has only reached Hakodate from Honshu. So if you are planning to explore the wide areas of Hokkaido, you should do well with the plane.
Approximate travel time when using JR express
|Sapporo-Hakodate:||3 hours 30 minutes|
|Sapporo-Asahikawa||1 hour 30 minutes|
|Sapporo-Abashiri||5 hours 30 minutes|
|Sapporo-Wakkanai||5 hours 10 minutes|
|Sapporo-Obihiro||2 hours 40 minutes|
|Sapporo-Kushiro||4 hours 10 minutes|
>> Please refer to JR Hokkaido official website for JR route map and timetable
There are many airports in Hokkaido. Please see the main airports on the map above. The biggest airport is New Chitose Airport near Sapporo.
In addition to New Chitose Airport, the following major airports are frequently used.
Memanbetsu Airport (Abashiri)
Regarding other airports, I will introduce them in the explanation of each area below
Because Hokkaido is big, climate and tourism contents are different depending on the area. So in this article, I will introduce Hokkaido in the following four areas.
Central Hokkaido (Douo)
If you go to Hokkaido for the first time, I recommend to visit Central Hokkaido ("Douo" in Japanese) first. In Sapporo, the main city of Central Hokkaido, there are many things that attract visitors throughout the year. And there are many sightseeing spots where you can enjoy majestic nature as typified by Niseko. The Japan Sea side of Central Hokkaido such as Niseko is the area where snow is particularly popular. You may plan to combine these places according to your taste. Transportation is generally inconvenient in Hokkaido, but in Central Hokkaido you can move relatively smoothly. If you can not afford to stay for a long time in Hokkaido, you may visit only Sapporo or Niseko.
Sapporo is the largest city in Hokkaido with a population of 2 million people. More than 30% of the people in Hokkaido live in this city.
Sapporo was a vast wilderness with nothing until the late nineteenth century. This city was then planned and developed. That's why the cityscape of Sapporo is in order.
Sapporo is the newest huge city in Japan. The underpass is being developed in this city so that people can walk comfortably even in cold weather. When going out to the ground from the underpass, there is a long park called "Odori Park" along the main street. Various festivals are held throughout the year in this park. "Sapporo Snow Festival" held in February is the most famous.
Sapporo is also known for its delicious food. Fish and crabs collected in the Sea of Japan etc. are very tasty. Fresh vegetables harvested in Hokkaido are also the best. And please eat "Sapporo Ramen" by all means.
There are many vast parks around Sapporo. If you go on the ropeway and go to the top of the Mt. Moiwa, you will be able to see the city of Sapporo. This scenery is really the best.
It is approximately 40 minutes by JR express train from New Chitose Airport to Sapporo.
Niseko is the most popular ski resort area in Japan. Here every year in winter, tourists come from all over the world. Because there are so many foreign tourists, it is relatively easy to communicate in English with the staffs of the hotels and ski resorts.
Niseko is located relatively close to the Sea of Japan. In winter, the damp clouds coming from the Sea of Japan are shielded by the mountains of Niseko and let them snow. The snow here is deep and the snow quality is the best.
Niseko is also one of the hot spring spots in Hokkaido. After enjoying the winter sports, you can warm your cold body in a hot spring.
In Niseko you can enjoy various activities such as hiking and rafting from spring to autumn. Many people stay long in summer.
Even saying Niseko in a word, there are many ski resorts. It is approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes by bus from Sapporo to Niseko. It is approximately 2 hours and 40 minutes from New Chitose Airport, but depending on the ski resort it will take more time.
Photos: Otaru in winter -"Otaru Snow Light Path" is recommended!
If you are going to see the Sapporo Snow Festival in winter, I would recommend visiting Otaru, a port town on the Japan Sea side, in addition to Sapporo. At Otaru Port there are canals, brick warehouses, retro Western-style buildings and others. Every February, a winter festival named "Otaru Snow Light ...
Otaru is a port city located 40 km west of Sapporo. To Otaru, it takes about 30 minutes by JR express train from Sapporo and 1 hour 10 minutes from New Chitose Airport.
In this port city there are scenery of retro streets built in the first half of the 20th century. Otaru prospered as a trade port in that era. Later, the city was sluggish, but now it is reviving by sightseeing.
At Otaru Port there are canals, brick warehouses, retro Western-style buildings and others. Every February, a winter festival named "Otaru Snow Light Path" is held and the canal glows with a beautiful lantern light.
Otaru is also known for its fish being very tasty. There are many cheap and delicious sushi restaurants in this city.
A short trip to enjoy the retro streets covered with snow and then eat delicious sushi is popular among tourists. Why do not you stop by Otaru?
Photos: Lake Shikotsu Ice Festival
From the end of January to the middle of February, the "Lake Shikotsu Ice Festival" will be held at Shikotsuko-onsen in Central Hokkaido, which is about 30 minutes by car from New Chitose Airport. Shikotsuko-onsen is a hot spring town on the shores of Lake Shikotsu. At this festival, large and ...
When enjoying the magnificent nature of Hokkaido, the lakes are one point.
Hokkaido has many amazing lakes surrounded by quiet mountains. The most famous are Lake Akan and Lake Mashu in Eastern Hokkaido. However, while the lakes of these eastern Hokkaido are located considerably far from the urban area, Central Hokkaido has lakes relatively close to urban areas. The most famous of these lakes in Central Hokkaido are Lake Shikotsu and Lake Toya.
Lake Shikotsu is conveniently located about 30 minutes by car from New Chitose Airport. It takes about 40 minutes by bus. Though it is very close from the airport, those who actually went to Lake Shikotsu are surprised that this lake is very wonderful. This lake, which is about 40 kilometers around, has a water depth of up to 360 meters. It is the second deepest lake in Japan. Furthermore, the transparency of the lake is amazing comparable to Lake Mashu in Eastern Hokkaido and Lake Baikal in Russia.
You can play boating on this lake. A large sightseeing boat is also operated. If you have time, please ride this boat. You will be surprised as you can see deep into the lake. It is also a good idea to explore the lakeside forest.
These are crater lakes born by the activities of the volcanoes in the southwestern part of Hokkaido. So there are spa resorts in the outskirts.
At late January every year, the winter festival is also held as seen in the second picture above. For details of Lake Shikotsu please refer to the following official website.
Lake Toya is located about 1 hour 30 minutes by JR express train and bus from New Chitose Airport. It is a caldera lake which was born in volcanic activity like Lake Shikotsu. It is a nearly circular lake 11 km east-west, 9 km north-south, slightly smaller than lake Shikotsu.
At Lake Toya, you can enjoy spectacular views from the nearby "Sairo Observation Deck". You can see not only the near Mt.Usu (altitude 737 m), but also the distant mountains of Niseko.
Mt. Usu is a volcano that is still active even now. Currently you can go to the summit with big ropeway from the foot. From the observatory which is a 7-minute walk from the summit station, you can overlook even the sea in the distance.
A large pleasure boat is also operated on this lake. If you take this pleasure boat, you can go to the uninhabited island in the middle of the lake (except in winter). On this island you can feed the wild deer.
On the banks of Lake Toya, There is the Toyako Onsen (Lake Toya hot spring resort) . Toyako Onsen is a wonderful spa town representing Hokkaido. Regarding this spa town, I introduced it in an article about hot springs.
Tomamu is a large mountain resort that you can easily go from New Chitose Airport. This resort is managed by Hoshinoya which is the representative resort hotel chain in Japan.
In this resort, you can experience various activities by staying at huge hotels. You can experience hiking, horse riding, rafting, ballooning etc in the summer. In winter you can enjoy skiing, snowmobiling, sledding and so on. Because you can base on hotel rooms, it is popular among families with small children.
In addition, Tomamu has a unique tour. From May to October, guests can get on the gondola early in the morning to the top of the mountain. Sea of clouds often occurs there, as seen in the picture above. If you are lucky you can enjoy the amazing world.
If you go to Tomamu from New Chitose Airport, you should take JR rapid from the airport first. Then please get off at Minami Chitose Station, 1 station ahead. Next, let's go from Minami Chitose Station to Tomamu Station by JR Limited Express. If you get off at this station, a vast resort is spreading in front of you. The journey time from the airport is 1 hour 30 minutes.
I also went to this resort a couple of times when my children were young. Unfortunately, I have never seen a sea of clouds at the top of the mountain.
If you can not be satisfied with beautiful sightseeing spots or luxurious resorts, I recommend you go to Yubari. Yubari is a mountain city that is closer to Sapporo than Tomamu. This city once flourished with coal mines. However, since the coal mine was closed, it stagnated and in 2007 the financial collapse occurred.
There is no gorgeous atmosphere like Tomamu in this town. Instead, there are many industrial heritages of the era when this city flourished with coal mines. Since coal miners habitually watched movies, the town still has a lot of signboards of old-fashioned movies. If you explore such a retro city, you will be able to experience Japan in the 20th century.
In Yubari, after the coal mine was closed, ski resort development was advanced. As a result, there is a ski resort in Yubari city. There is no spectacular like Tomamu, but the people of the city welcome the ski visitor with full heart.
Yubari is also famous as a city that produces very delicious melons. People of farmers make it with fine work. You can eat the best melon at the hotel in this city.
I have interviewed many times in Yubari. People are poor. But they love their cities and are hard to resurrect this city. I got the ability to live positive from people in Yubari. Why do not you meet people trying to survive in the coldest city?
It takes 1 hour 40 minutes by bus from Sapporo station to Yubari station, 1 hour 10 minutes by bus from New Chitose Airport. However, as you can see in the picture above, it is also recommended to go by cute train. Please go by express to Shin-Yubari Station and get on this cute train from there.
Northen Hokkaido (Douhoku)
Photos: The vast landscape of Hokkaido in winter -Asahikawa, Biei, Furano
In Hokkaido, the most popular tourist destination in winter is Sapporo. But if you want to enjoy the vast landscape in winter, I recommend going to Asahikawa, Biei and Furano. You will enjoy a truly pure world! Table of ContentsPhotos of the winter landscape in HokkaidoMap of Asahikawa Photos of the ...
Northern Hokkaido ("Douhoku" in Japanese) is the coldest area in Japan. If you go to Wakkanai in the northernmost part of Hokkaido in winter, you should be surprised by the cold wind. Northern Hokkaido does not have such a big city as its population exceeds 50,000 people. Therefore, as administrative district, Asahikawa which is a large city located in the south a little is regarded as the central city of Northern Hokkaido. Transport networks such as buses are also closely connected with Asahikawa. For this reason, I will introduce Asahikawa and Biei etc. in Northern Hokkaido on this page like other tourist books. Besides, Asahikawa is said to be the coldest in Japan, as it is located in a basin near cold mountainous areas.
Northern Hokkaido is so wide that you will not be able to go around all. There are three plans to decide the destination. Firstly, you can set up a trip to popular spots near Asahikawa such as Biei, Furano, Daisetsuzan. Second, not to be caught by "Northern Hokkaido", plans to go from Sapporo located in the south to Furano and Biei are also attractive. If you go to Hokkaido for the first time, I will recommend this plan. And thirdly, there are plans to travel around the northernmost area of Northern Hokkaido centering on Wakkanai. This last plan is suitable for those who have been to Hokkaido many times. You surely will enjoy a wild world that is not well known.
Asahikawa is a large city with a population of 340,000, next to Sapporo in Hokkaido. This city is the center of economic, tourism and transportation in Northern Hokkaido. It is approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes by JR express from Sapporo.
Asahikawa is the largest basin in Hokkaido surrounded by mountains such as Daisetsuzan. So the temperature difference is big. In winter the lowest temperature is below minus 10 degrees Celsius. Snow often falls.
The most popular attraction in Asahikawa is Asahiyama Zoo. In this zoo, various ingenuity is exaggerated so that the behavior of wild animals can be seen nearby. For example, in penguin's aquarium, you can see them swim at high speed. On the other hand, you can also see that penguins walk lovely like zoos in zoos like babies. The number of visitors to this zoo reaches 1.4 million people a year.
In Asahikawa, the "Asahikawa Winter Festival" is held in early February every year. Approximately 1 million tourists come to this festival. In this festival, a lot of snow statues line up in the riverbed of the Ishikari River. These snow statues are bigger than the statues of "Sapporo Snow Festival".
If you live in an area where snow does not fall, you may go to the "Snow Crystal Museum" seen in the above video. The theme of this museum is "snow". The inside of this museum is as beautiful as the ice castle that appears in the Disney movie "Frozen". There is a passage of ice in this castle. You can experience the severe cold world even in the summer. You can also wear a rental dress and experience the princess.
Photos: Mikuni Toge Pass in Daisetsuzan National Park, Hokkaido
If you want to see the magnificent primeval forest in Hokkaido, I recommend driving the Mikuni Toge Pass (1,139m above sea level) in Daisetsuzan National Park. From late May to June, the surrounding fresh green is wonderful. From late September to early October, you can enjoy the amazing autumn colors, as ...
Photos:Taushubetsu bridge in Hokkaido
In Kamishihoro Town, Hokkaido, there is an unused Arched bridge "Taushubetsu bridge" (completed in 1937). This bridge is submerged in the dam during the summer and fall, but it appears above the water during the winter and spring when the water is low. Would you like to visit this fantastic world ...
Daisetsuzan is a mountainous area in the center of Hokkaido. The area extends to 63 km north and north and 59 km east to west. The highest mountain is Mt.Asahidake at 2,290 m above sea level. Besides that, 2,000 meters of mountains continue. If you want to enjoy the amazing nature that has not been developed by humans, you may want to go to this mountainous area.
Daisetsuzan is far colder than urban areas such as Asahikawa throughout the year, so please be careful. At Daisetsuzan, the atmosphere of fall begins to drift in late August. From September, autumn leaves start from the summit of the mountain. Long winter continues from October until May of the following year. In Daisetsuzan. Summer is only one month from late July to early August. Even at this time the lowest temperature may fall below freezing point.
Since Mt.Asahidake and Mt. Kurodake have ropeways, you can take a walk around them. Please refer to my article below for details.
Daisetsuzan is also a volcano group. So, there are hot spring resorts in the outskirts. When you go to Daisetsuzan, you may stay at these resorts. The biggest hot spring resort is "Sounkyo". Soukyo is located about 65 kilometers west of Asahikawa. It is approximately 30 minutes by bus from JR Kamikawa station on the way. For details of Sounkyo, please see the official website below.
Biei is a very popular tourist area located 25 kilometers south of Asahikawa. It is approximately 35 minutes by train from JR Asahikawa station to Biei station. It is approximately 16 minutes by bus from Asahikawa Airport to Biei Station.
In Biei there is a gently rolling plain. In the summer, beautiful flowers bloom here. And in the winter a world of pure white snow appears.
The most famous sightseeing spot in Biei is a tourist farm named "Shikisai-no-oka" seen in the photos and videos above. The lavender fields here are amazing. For Shikisai-no-oka, please refer to my article below.
Biei has a mysterious spot called "Blue Pond" as seen in the above picture and movie. This pond is about 40 minutes by car from Asahikawa Airport and about 25 minutes from JR Biei Station. Buses are also being operated from Biei station.
The color of Blue Pond will change depending on the season and time zone. It was adopted as Apple 's PC wallpaper and became explosively famous. It is always crowded with tourists, but if you go early in the morning, you can enjoy a really beautiful and quiet world.
It is a pond built to prevent the damage caused by the eruption of a nearby volcano. Sulfur and lime flowed into this pond, and a mysterious color world was born.
Lighting will be done until 21 o'clock in the winter season from November. However, it may be closed, please gather information locally.
Photos: Blue Pond in Biei, Hokkaido
In Biei, Hokkaido, there is a very beautiful tourist spot called “Blue Pond”. This pond became famous by being adopted as an Apple PC wallpaper. The landscape of this pond changes with the changes of seasons and weather. If you go to Biei or Furano, be sure to experience the mysterious ...
For details of Biei please refer to the following official website.
Furano is very famous as a sightseeing area where beautiful flower gardens spread alongside Biei. It is the central city of the Furano Basin in the middle of Hokkaido, 30 kilometers south of Biei. To Furano, 1 hour 40 minutes by bus from Asahikawa, 1 hour 10 minutes from Asahikawa Airport, 3 hours from Sapporo.
The most popular spot in Furano is the large-scale farm "Farm Tomita" seen in the photo above. Purple lavender blooms from late June to early August every year at this farm, located about 15 minutes by car from Furano Station. For Farm Tomita, if you like, please refer to my article below.
Because Furano is in the basin, the temperature difference is intense, and in winter the lowest temperature may be minus 20 degrees Celsius. There are a lot of snow in winter. On severe cold days, you can see the ice world called "diamond dust" as seen in the movie below.
Wakkanai is located in the northernmost part of Japan. If you go to Wakkanai's Soya Cape seen in the photo above, you will be able to get a certain sense of accomplishment that you are at the northernmost tip.
Wakkanai has a population of approximately 34,000. As there is an influence of ocean current, the temperature does not decrease as much as inland. But the wind is very strong. Snow falls as well.
If you move from Asahikawa city to Wakkanai, JR Wakkanai station is about 3 hours and 40 minutes by express train from JR Asahikawa station. If you go to Wakkanai with a rental car, it is about 260 km from Asahikawa Airport. The journey time will be around 5 hours. In that case, I recommend you go through the ororon line seen in the 2nd photo above. The Ororon line is a road along the Sea of Japan in Hokkaido. If you go through this road to Wakkanai city, your sense of accomplishment will be very big. It is approximately an hour by car from Wakkanai center to Soya Cape.
Southen Hokkaido (Dounan)
Southern Hokkaido ("Dounan" in Japanese) is an area popular with Central Hokkaido. Southern Hokkaido literally lies to the south, but because it is cold enough, you should be able to enjoy "Hokkaido". Hakodate, the central city, has many wonderful sightseeing spots.
If you go to Southern Hokkaido, you can roughly think of two plans. First, stay only in Hakodate. If you want to go to as many tourist destinations as possible, staying at Hakodate only at Southern Hokkaido, going to Sapporo etc. is not bad. If you use an airplane, you can afford to go around. Secondly, you may go to Hakodate and Onuma Park. You can enjoy rich nature at Onuma Park. You can go to Onuma Park by day trip from Hakodate. If you can stay for a long time, you may stop by Matsumae where there is a northernmost castle in Japan.
Hakodate is a city that is very popular with tourists alongside Sapporo in Hokkaido. Since there is a good harbor in this city, it has developed in trade and fishery since the first half of the 20th century.
The best tourist attraction of this city is Mt. Hakodate (altitude 334 m). If you get on the ropeway to the top of this mountain, you can watch the amazing night view, as you can see in the picture above.
There is another tourist attraction I highly recommend you. It is Hakodate Morning Market (Hakodate Asaichi) near JR Hakodate Station. You can eat very tasty fish and crabs here cheaply.
Because Hakodate has developed through trade with Western countries, there are also many Western-style retro buildings. Especially beautiful retro buildings are lined up in the area called Motomachi, so please take a stroll. The scenery of the harbor seen from the slope of Motomachi is also really wonderful.
I wrote about Hakodate in detail in the following article. Please enjoy the beautiful pictures of Hakodate in this article!
Hakodate is one of the most wonderful tourist cities in Japan, but if you want to see spectacular scenery, I recommend that you go to Onuma Park in addition to Hakodate. To Onuma Park, it is approximately 20 minutes by JR express from Hakodate. You can go to this park on a day trip.
Onuma Park is a vast park centered on Mt. Komagatake, with lots of beautiful lakes spread around this mountain. You can enjoy activities like boating, cycling, horseback riding in this park. There is also a big ski resort in Onuma Park.
I wrote in detail about Onuma Park in the following article. If you like, please refer to the following article.
If you travel in Southern Hokkaido from late April to early May, you might as well stop by Matsumae. Matsumae is the southernmost city of Hokkaido, 95 kilometers southwest of Hakodate. This town has the only Japanese style castle in Hokkaido. A lot of cherry blossoms bloom at the end of April in this castle.
In Hakodate there is a Western style castle named "Goryokaku". In the late nineteenth century, the Tokugawa shogunate army and the new government army fought violently in Matsumae Castle and Goryokaku. Why do not you enjoy Matsumae including such history?
About Matsumae I wrote in detail in the following article.
Eastern Hokkaido (Douto) 1: Tokachi
If you want to enjoy the wild nature scenery that has not been developed, there is no place as perfect as Eastern Hokkaido. Because Eastern Hokkaido is very vast, on this page I will introduce it in three categories.
Eastern Hokkaido has few flights, and the railway network is extremely poor, but the place that it is relatively easy to go is the Tokachi district on the south side. If you really want to go to an undeveloped area, this district may be inadequate, but for this district you can easily go from Sapporo by using JR Limited Express. The characteristic of the Tokachi district is its magnificent plain. In the Tokachi plain, vast pastures and beautiful forests continue. Please enjoy such a scenery by all means.
Photos: Beautiful forests in Tokachi, Hokkaido
When traveling in Hokkaido, you will sometimes encounter beautiful forests. Especially in the Tokachi Plain, located in the southeast of Hokkaido, there are many beautiful forests. If you take a walk early in the morning, you may encounter a quiet forest surrounded by fantastic fog! Photos of th Beautiful forests and ...
Obihiro is the central city of the Tokachi district. The population is about 160,000 people. In Tokachi plains where this city is located, large-scale field crop and dairy farming are thriving. If you go to the suburbs of Obihiro, you can enjoy the views of the vast farms and pastures.
In this vast plain, windbreak forests are scattered. With these beautiful forests as accent, you will be able to take beautiful photos. Amazing snowy landscapes can be seen here and there, especially in the winter, like the photo above.
The popular spot for tourists in Obihiro is the old station building of Kofuku station. Kofuku means "happiness" in Japanese. The route with this station has been abolished already, but even now young couples come from domestic and abroad to take a commemorative photo at this station building. There is also a program to change clothes to a wedding dress or a tuxedo.
In the station building you can ring a small bell. In commemoration you can paste your business card in the station building. Old trains are also left, so please visit.
Eastern Hokkaido (Douto) 2 : Kushiro
Kushiro District is located further east of Tokachi plain. Kushiro, the central city, is a port city facing the Pacific Ocean, with fish delicious. Popular tourist destinations in this district are the Kushiro Marsh near Kushiro City and Akan Lake in the mountainous area. In these sightseeing spots, you can meet undeveloped rich nature. Eastern Hokkaido has less snow than the Sea of Japan side, but it is quite cold from autumn to winter, so please do not forget the winter clothes such as coat.
Kushiro Airport (Tancho Kushiro Airport)
Kushiro Airport is the main airport of Eastern Hokkaido located approximately 20 km northwest from Kushiro center. Recently it is also called "Tancho Kushiro Airport". "Tancho" is a crane inhabiting Kushiro Marsh. It is relatively close to Kushiro-shitsugen National Park and Akan National Park which are popular spots of Eastern Hokkaido.
Kushiro Station = 45 minutes by bus,
Lake Akan = 70 minutes by bus
Domestic Flights (Hokkaido)
New Chitose (Sapporo)
Domestic Flights (except Hokkaido)
Haneda(Tokyo), New Chitose, Okadama,
∗ Itami(Osaka), Nagoya = Only in summer
Nakashibetsu Airport (Nemuro Nakashibetsu Airport)
Nakashibetsu Airport is the easternmost airport in Japan. The official name is Nakashibetsu Airport, but recently it is also called Nemuro-Nakashibetsu Airport. It is about 4 km northwest from the center of Nakashibetsu. Nakashibetsu Airport is small, but within 100 kilometers of the airport, there are Nemuro which is the main city of this area and Shiretoko which are popular tourist attractions. So it is an important airport. It is approximately 90 minutes by bus from Nakashibetsu Bus Terminal near the airport to Rausu of Shiretoko peninsula.
Nakashibetsu Bus Terminal = 10 minutes by bus,
Nemuro Station Bus Terminal =1 hour 15 minutes by bus
Domestic Flights (Hokkaido)
New Chitose (Sapporo)
Domestic Flights (except Hokkaido)
Kushiro is the largest city in Eastern Hokkaido. The population is about 170,000. This city is very vast and has a total area of 1360 square kilometers.
There are two national parks in Kushiro city. One is Kushiroshitsugen National Park. The other is Akan-Mashu National Park in the north. Regarding the latter, I will introduce it later.
The former Kushiroshitsugen National Park is relatively close to the city area of Kushiro and Kushiro Airport. Here, the largest Marsh in Japan, Kushiroshitsugen (Kushiro Marsh, or Kushiro Wetland) is spreading. It is as big as Tokyo's 23 wards.
In this Marsh there are observation stations such as "Kushiro Marsh Observatory", "Kottaro Marsh Observatory", "Hosooka Observatory", and you can look at the vast wetlands. The largest observation platform among these is "Kushiro Marsh Observatory". It is about 30 minutes from JR Kushiro station by car (Akan bus: Tsurui Line), and 18 minutes from Kushiro Airport by car. There is a tree path near this observatory, and you can walk on the wetland.
In Kushiro Marsh, you can take a tourist train "Kushiro-Shitsugen-Norokko-Go". You can also go through this wetland with a canoe.
For details of Kushiro Marsh, please refer to the official website of the Ministry of the Environment.
In Kushiro, as you can see in the photo above, many Japanese cranes (red-crowned cranes) live. Japanese crane is the biggest bird in Japan with a length of about 140 cm. When this crane spreads wings, its width exceeds 2 meters.
Once they become couples, they live together for the rest of their lives. In winter, you may be able to see the courtship dance of young cranes if you are lucky.
Japanese cranes were in danger of extinction due to overhunting in the first half of the 20th century. However, after that, activities to protect the cranes began. During the winter (November - March) when food is reduced, activities to feed also continue. As a result, the number of cranes is now recovering beyond 1000 birds.
You can observe the cranes in the Kushiro Wetland and in the Akan area in the north. The place where you can see the cranes most surely is "Kushiro Japanese Crane Reserve" located 10 minutes by car from Kushiro Airport. For details, please refer to the following site.
Lake Akan, Lake Mashu, Lake Kusshario
In the northern part of the Kushiro region there is a vast Akan Mashu National Park with a total area of 91,000 hectares. More than 90% of this national park is undeveloped. Most of them are coniferous forests. In the southern part of this national park is Lake Akan. And in the north there is Lake Mushu and Lake Kussharo. These lakes were born in ancient times by volcanic activity. There are also settlements of the Ainu, the indigenous people who have lived with respect to the wilderness in this region. You will be impressed by the mysterious lakes surrounded by wild mountains here.
To this national park, you can also go from Memanbetsu airport located on the north side. You can also go from this national park to Memanbetsu airport and Abashiri ahead.
For detailed tourist information on this area please refer to the official website below.
Lake Akan is a crater lake of 30 km around. There are Mt. Oakan (Male Mountain) and Mt. Meakan (Female Mountain) around this beautiful lake. Volcanic activity continues still in Mt. Meakan.
Around the Lake Akan there is a hot spring resort "Akanko Onsen (Lake Akan Onsen)" consisting of about 20 hotels. Only the surroundings of this spa resort are developed, and pleasure boats, motor boats, etc. are operated. You can also fish. There is a walk way in the neighborhood.
At the western end of the hot spring town, there is the largest Ainu settlement in Hokkaido. There are souvenir shops such as Ainu's handicrafts lining in there. There are Ainu related museums and theaters. There, Ainu's old dance and music shows are held.
This lake freezes in winter. You can ride a snowmobile or catch a fish on ice. This lake is more mysterious in winter than summer. However, it is surprisingly cold.
In Akan Lake, rare algae species called "marimo" lives, as seen in the above picture. Marimo is a mysterious creature that rounds itself in the water. It is usually smaller than a ball of table tennis, but it may grow even bigger. You can purchase a Marimo at a souvenir shop.
It is approximately 1 hour and 10 minutes by bus from Kushiro Airport to Lake Akan Lake. It is one hour and 50 minutes from JR Kushiro Station. Furthermore it is 1 hour and 10 minutes from Nakashibetsu Airport.
Lake Mashu, Lake Kusshario
If you want to see a more mysterious lake than Lake Akan, I recommend you go to Lake Mashu, which is 20 minutes drive north of Lake Akan.
Lake Mashu is a crater lake around 20 kilometer that was born by volcanic activity 7000 years ago. This lake is one of the most transparent lakes in the world because there is no river flowing from the outside. So this lake is very beautiful and its blue color is called "Mashu Blue".
This lake is in a very inconvenient place. Buses may be operated during summer, but basically it is better to rent a car. Or you may use a sightseeing bus from the city center of Kushiro.
Lake Mashu is a very deep lake with a maximum depth of 211.5 meters. The surroundings of this lake are cliffs as seen in the picture above. Moreover, entering into this lake is severely restricted. So, you should look at this lake from several observation decks on the cliff.
The color of the water surface of Lake Mashu changes according to the weather at that time. Mists often occur in this lake. The lake wrapped in fog is very mysterious.
In the northeast of Lake Mashu there is a clear pond called Kami-no-ko Ike, 220 meters around. This pond, 5 meters deep, you can see trees sunk in the water with emerald blue as seen in the picture below. This pond has been drawing attention rapidly these days. However, in winter, snow will accumulate on the road leading to this pond. When the road is closed, you have to walk about 4 kilometers back and forth. Since it is dangerous especially on snowy days, please do not push yourself.
It takes about 2 hours 20 minutes by car from Kushiro Airport to Lake Mashu and about 2 hours and 10 minutes from JR Kushiro Station. It takes about 2 hours from Memanbetsu Airport.
Lake Kussharo is a large lake of 57 km around. It is about 30 minutes by car from Lake Mashu.
This lake is Japan's largest crater lake. It was born by a volcanic explosion that occurred many times from ancient times.
The most suitable place to look at Lake Kussharo is the Bihoro Pass on the west bank of the lake. If you look at this lake from the observation deck there, you will be amazed by the spectacular scenery.
Many tourist bases such as pleasure cruise landings are on the east side of the lake. There is no road on the north side of this lake, so you can not go round the lake. So I think that it is a good idea to take a pleasure cruise. This pleasure cruise travels around this lake in about an hour.
Around the lake, hot springs come out from here and there. There is even a campsite with a hot spring on the banks of the lake. If you really want to enjoy hot springs, there are also big resort hotels so stay in those. However, some hotels are not open in winter, so please check in advance.
Lake Kussharo is about an hour's drive from Memanbetsu Airport by car. It is approximately one hour and ten minutes by car from Nakashibetsu Airport.
Eastern Hokkaido (Douto) 3 : Okhostk
In the Eastern Hokkaido, the most popular district is here. This area was hardly developed even after the 20th century. So, you can meet surprisingly abundant nature. I recommend you go especially to the Shiretoko peninsula. On this peninsula, you will see wild bears and deer.
This area is also famous for drift ice flowing from the Sea of Okhotsk in winter. If you want to experience the cold world, you'd better go here in winter!
The Okhotsk District is very expansive, with little public transportation. Of course you can make an itinerary combined with Sapporo etc. However, I recommend that you travel with careful schedule with plenty of time.
Abashiri is a city with a population of 35 thousand located 35 minutes by bus from Memanbetsu Airport. This town faces the Sea of Okhotsk.
Many Japanese have an image of "the farthest town" for Abashiri. The most famous tourist attraction in this town is the outdoor museum "The Abashiri Prison Museum" using old Abashiri prison.
In the first half of the 20th century, many prisoners were sent to this town. At this museum, which is a 10-minute bus ride from JR Abashiri Train Station, a vast wooden prison is left. This wooden building group is so powerful that small children may start crying. Life-size dolls show visitors the life of prisoners there. The prisoners endured the life of a very cold prison. Because there was a prisoner who escaped from this prison, its appearance is also reproduced by dolls.
There is another famous sightseeing spot, Cape Notori, 20 minutes by bus from JR Abashiri Station. From this cape where a cliff of height 40-60 m continues, you can overlook the Sea of Okhotsk. Every winter, drift ice flow over this cape. I have been to this cape in February. To my surprise, there was no wave in the Sea of Okhotsk seen from this cape. Myriad of ice covered the ocean. And, an intensely cold north wind was blowing from this quiet ice world.
You can go from Abashiri Port to this ice world by a dedicated boat. You will be able to find a seal on the drift ice. About this tour I introduced in another article. Please drop in on that page if you do not mind.
The Shiretoko Peninsula protruding northeast of Hokkaido is the region where the wildest nature in Japan remains. Shiretoko is registered as a World Heritage Site.
"Shiretoko" comes from "Siri Etoku" meaning "the end of the earth" in the word of the indigenous people Ainu. You will be overwhelmed by the amazing nature that is opposite to big cities like Tokyo.
On the northern side of this peninsula there is a central town called Utoro. There are many hotels here. Utoro is about 2 hours 15 minutes by car rental from Memanbetsu Airport. If you want to use the bus, it is 2 hours 20 minutes by the direct bus "Shiretoko Airport Liner" from Memanbetsu Airport. There are 3 buses on the day.
On the south side of Shiretoko Peninsula, there is another central town, Rausu. There are not many hotels here. Rausu is a 50-minute bus ride from Utoro. Four buses are operated a day. It is 2 hours and 40 minutes by bus from Memanbetsu Airport. If you come by car from the Nakashibetsu airport, the journey time is 1 hour and 10 minutes.
Between Utoro and Rausu, there is Shiretoko Pass, and the way to cross this pass is wonderful. However, this road will be closed due to snow from early November until late April. You have to go through another route in the winter.
Generally, there is a risk that the roads of Shiretoko in winter are closed due to the influence of snow. So please be careful.
The tourist spot I'd like to recommend most in the Shiretoko Peninsula is Shiretoko Goko Lakes with five beautiful lakes. From late April to mid-October, you can take a stroll through the wild nature if you take a guide staff lecture. You may meet wild deer and squirters here. Since bears may appear, please follow the advice of the staff.
Shiretoko Goko lakes is located 30 minutes by car from Utoro. I introduced Shiretoko Goko Lakes in an article about hiking. Please drop in on that page if you do not mind.
Another thing I would like to recommend to you is to take a cruise ship and observe the Shiretoko peninsula from the sea. Because there are few roads in Shiretoko Peninsula, the area that can be reached by car is limited. On the other hand, from the ocean you can approach the wild area.
Utoro has five companies that operate cruise ships. There are diverse ship from small boat of about 40 people to large boat of 400 people. Small ships can approach closer to land. Larger ships can not go so far, but there are few shakes.
There are two ways to go on a cruise ship, the course going to the tip of Shiretoko Peninsula and the course returning on the way. The course going to the tip is about 3 hours 45 minutes in the case of a large boat with a slow speed. There is a high possibility that the course going to the tip will be able to see the bear on the ground and the dolphins on the sea.
Many sightseeing boats will be closed in the winter. The following is the site of the company operating large ships.
I appreciate you reading to the end.
Bon KUROSAWA I have long worked as a senior editor for Nihon Keizai Shimbun (NIKKEI) and currently work as an independent web writer. At NIKKEI, I was the editor-in-chief of the media on Japanese culture. Let me introduce a lot of fun and interesting things about Japan. Please refer to this article for more details.