Hokkaido which is located at the northern end of Japan is surrounded by the Pacific Ocean, the Sea of Japan and the Okhotsk Sea. With its cool summers, livability and heavy snow in the winter, it’s a paradise for skiers. The Shiretoko Peninsula was registered as a World Heritage site in 2005, and the entire prefecture is an area where Mother Nature spreads out with lakes, onsen and ice floes.
On the Shiretoko Peninsula, the Shiretoko Five Lakes, onsen and the ice floe walks are popular. Along with the Clock Tower and the observation deck T38 in the Sapporo JR Tower in centrally located Sapporo, the Sapporo Snow Festival which is held in Odori Park at the beginning of February every year is nationally famous. The port city of Hakodate is an area that has a somewhat retro feeling with places such as the night view from Mt. Hakodate which has received 3 stars from the Michelin Green Guide Japon and the red brick warehouses. There are also sites such as the beautiful Otaru Canal when it is illuminated, Furano which became an overnight hit thanks to a TV drama, and the Asahiyama Zoo. Tomamu and Niseko are especially popular with Australians as popular ski resorts.
Hokkaido is great for having seafood. Along with crab, you will want to visit the morning markets around the prefecture for salmon, sea urchin and salmon roe, etc. There is also regional cuisine including Jingisukan and Ishikari hot pot. Pudding, roll cake, chocolate and other sweets using local ingredients are also a hit. Sapporo is known as the birthplace for miso ramen and soup curry.
Access to Hokkaido is usually by airplane. It takes about 90 minutes to go from Haneda Airport to Shin-Chitose Airport, 80 minutes to Hakodate Airport and 100 minutes to Asahikawa Airport. Moving among the major areas in the prefecture can be conveniently done by train or express bus. There is a Rail & Rental Car ticket when taking JR trains and rental car which is recommended since there is a 10-20% discount. Taking Japan Railways has become even more convenient due to the opening of the Hokkaido Shinkansen.
There are plenty of accommodations in areas with many tourist spots such as Sapporo, Hakodate, Otaru and Asahikawa. Otaru and Hakodate especially have a lot of venerable ryokan.