This Japanese Destination will impress you - 7 unmissable things to do in Hokkaido by - Vaibhav Mishra
Japan is one of the most diverse, culturally rich countries, housing some of the friendliest people. As advanced as they are in technology, with factories entirely run by A.I robots or the PanasonicCocotto (your own robot babysitter), they still haven’t forgotten the politeness of their past and their cultural roots,. As stressful as it sounds, it has got the perfect combination of peace, chaos, old and new from busy streets of Tokyo to the stress-busting Oniwaka, which is considered to be one of the healthiest places on Earth. Hokkaido is the second largest as well as the most northern prefecture in Japan. The climate of Hokkaido is such that the winters can be harsh with snowfall and the summers rather chill and dry. The best time to be in Hokkaido is anytime, all year round it has so much to offer during each season, from the beautiful snowfall and its related competitions to the lush meadows of the spring and summer.So let’s dive right into it. Here are 7 things you cannot miss in Hokkaido:
So here are 7 incredible things to do in Hokkaido
1. The Rainbow Meadows of Furano
Furano is a city in Japan’s Hokkaido prefecture. One of the biggest attractions of Furano is its meadows. Lavender has been cultivated in Hokkaido for more than a century and a half! Other than lavender, there are other flowers like Irises (Hanashobu), Sunflowers (Himawari), Tulips (Tomaya) cultivated in a manner that will leave you speechless. If you visit in summer, this is a place you cannot miss.
The flower-viewing season generally starts around June and ends in September, and it has a train dedicated for visitors to come during the season. The Furano-Biei Norokko train travels between Furano and Biei whilst giving the passengers an opportunity to enjoy the scenery of the lavender farms. The train stops at a temporary Lavender-Batake Station, which is a five-minute walking distance from one of the farms (Farm Tomita). This is the Hokkaido spot for all nature lovers. For winter lovers, Furano ski resort also offers many options!
2. Experience Otaru City
Otaru shows what traditional Japan looked like with ship ports, sushi bars, sake distilleries, canals, and music. It is a 30-minute train ride from Sapporo, which is the capital city of Hokkaido. From strolling down the canal and visiting the Music box museum to trying a freshly brewed pint from the Osake Distillery and some sushi from a traditional Japanese restaurant, Otaru has enough activities to fill an entire day’s worth of sightseeing. Make sure not to miss the iconic music box museum in Otaru, shop for the antics, and try the sea-urchin flavoured ice-cream! The Sakaimachidori shopping street is as well worth to mention because it will leave you browsing for hours.]
How to reach Otaru, Hokkaido?
Hokkaido being on the Northern Isles of Japan is can be easily reached from Tokyo via a plane. There are extensive train networks if you are interested to explore the Japanese Hinterlands en-route Hokkaido. You can also reach Hokkaido from Sapporo via a short train ride. Japanese rail tickets can be easily purchased at any railway station.
our top recommended Things to do in Otary, Hokkaido
1. stroll along the otaru canal
2. visit the Otaru Tenguyama via the scenic cable car
3. check out the music box museum
3. Take a Dip in the Hot Springs
When it comes to things to do in Hokkaido, one cannot miss Hotsprings or as they locally call ‘Onsen.’ Onsen or Hot springs are one of the biggest highlights of Japan. The Japanese culture revolves around hot springs. With a prefecture like Hokkaido, which is in a colder climate region, relaxing in an Onsen is a must! With numerous references in popular culture from movies, shows, and ‘Animes,’ it has gained recognition all around the globe. Hokkaido has five active volcanoes with fumaroles and several other geothermal sites that give you a chance to relax and let your worries melt away. Noboribetsu has a valley that displays volcanic activities, which is the reason for its dramatic nickname, “Hell Valley.” The landscape is open to wander, and you can relax in Hokkaido’s most fascinating Onsen resort, the Noboribetsu Onsen. You can also try the Toyako hot spring town with breathtaking sceneries!
best onsen resorts in Hokkaido
4. Trying the Traditional ‘Ryokan’
While in Noboribetsu, engaging with the local tradition is a must to experience Japanese culture. Ryokan or a traditional Japanese ‘Inn’ is one of the prominent masterpieces that Japanese culture and hospitality has to offer. Each Ryokan comes equipped with a ‘futon’ and tatami-matting floor. It is popular with tourists as well as locals because it not only offers traditional rooms but also the traditional cuisine.
Ryokans are not only cultural from the inside, but also they have some of the most beautiful and eye-catching exteriors. Traditional Japanese buildings, which are set amidst nature give a sense of tranquility and simplicity, something that is much anticipated after visiting the bustling metropolis of Tokyo.
The Dai Ichi Takimotokan offers both the Ryokan and a 24/7 Bathhouse with an Onsen. The Dai Ichi Takimotokan gives an opportunity to experience the more tranquil and traditional side of Japan. Moreover, the Dai Ichi Takimotokan provides the widest view of the aforementioned Hell Valley.
5. Enjoy lake Toya
You must have heard of lake Bled from Slovenia right? Well, lake Toya is the Japanese version, but a little more magnanimous and breathtaking with an Asian twist. The surrealistic beautify of this lake can be enjoyed while hiking, kayaking, or fishing.
You can take a Lake Toya Cruise in the lap of nature. You can also decide to hike on the mountain in the center of this lake and get impressed by the views of the volcanoes surrounding the lake.
Views of the Lake Toya can also be enjoyed from the Silo Observatory, a 15-minute drive from ‘Hot Springs Town’.
How to reach lake toya
Lake Toya can be easily accessed from Tokyo and Sappro through the Shinkansen and the bus network. The ‘Lake Toya Railway Station’ makes it very convenient to access this attraction for tourists.
6. Cherry Blossoms Hokkaido University
Visiting a university as a tourist might not be the very first thing in your bucket list, but trust us! Hokkaido University in Sapporo is an exception. Who is going to Japan and not visiting the Sakura – The Cherry Blossom Trees? Hokkaido University has its own botanical gardens where you can relax and experience nature. Moreover, you can find people of all ages trying to capture a perfect ‘instagrammable’ picture, be it of exotic flowers or ponds, and enjoy a picnic under the Sakura trees in spring. Located in Sapporo, Hokkaido University is one of the most prestigious universities in Japan and showcases people of all ages in leisure activities or dived into their academic work. In the springtime, you can see families enjoying barbecues, while in the winter, the university is covered in the beautiful snow. Hokkaido University is truly worth to visit during every season.
8. Sapporo Yuki Matsuri – Sapporo Snow Festival
Speaking of snow, as mentioned earlier, Hokkaido is a place that you can visit all year around. There are infinite things to do in Hokkaido, so you are never out of options! The snow festival is a week-long festival held in the capital city and is one of Japan’s most anticipated wintertime events. It is held in 3 places – Odori Site, Susukino Site, and Tsu Dome Site – and showcases sculptures that are over 10 meters tall and 25 meters wide. It is truly a display of talent.
With a great view on the main site, Odori can be enjoyed from the Sapporo TV Tower which extends its closing time for the snow and ice festival. The views are just unimaginable! The Ice sculptures are lit up till approximately 23:00 for passers to enjoy the beauty of both the artwork that people indulge in and the pristine beauty that is the snow in all its sophistication.
The list of things to do in Hokkaido are endless and will keep you amazed to no bounds. If you come across other places, please feel free to share with other travellers in the comments below!