Hokkaido is Japan’s largest island apart from the main one, and can be divided into two parts – Central Hokkaido, the area around Sapporo, and Eastern Hokkaido, the area around Kushiro. Hokkaido is a popular destination among Japanese people, but here we want to share five reasons it is a great destination from everyone, Japanese or not – interesting sites, varied climate, amazing food, magnificent natural scenery, and hospitable locals.
1.The Tourist Destinations Have Character
Some of Hokkaido’s most popular tourist destinations are Hakodate, Sapporo, and Tomamu. Since the opening of a Shinkansen (bullet train) station in Hakodate, it has become much more convenient to visit Hakodate from Honshu, no longer requiring an airplane flight. The Hakodate cityscape is very westernized, as it was one of the first cities to adopt western culture in Japan; the Goryokaku castle is especially famous.
Sapporo is prosperous as Hokkaido’s capital city, with nationally famous festivals such as the YOSAKOI Soran Festival in the summer and the Sapporo Snow Festival in the winter. It is also a transport hub, and many tourists choose to arrive in Sapporo to use it as a base from which they visit other cities such as Hakodate, Otaru, and Furano.
Hokkaido is vast – transportation is very important, and many travel guides focus on how to make the most of your vacation without spending all of your time getting around. Tomamu, a ski resort, is especially popular with foreign tourists, and features many hotels, commercial venues, and tourist destinations that have English-speaking staff.
2.Varied Climate in the Summer Keeps it Interesting
Everyone imagines that Hokkaido is a cool place, even in the summer. Many tourists are surprised by how hot it can be in Central Hokkaido, in cities such as Sapporo and Furano, in the summer! On the other hand, in Kushiro in Western Hokkaido, the high temperature rarely exceeds 25℃, and its population increases in the summer with people escaping the heat. You can find two distinct climates in Hokkaido in the summer – but in the winter, it’s cold everywhere, and the whole island takes advantage of the temperature to hold special winter events!
3.It Is a Treasure Trove of Seafood and Meats
Hokkaido is known for its seafood and its meat. It is standard for seafood rice bowls to feature salmon roe or crab, and mutton barbecue and deer meat are widely available. The numerous ranches also produce milk that is used in wonderful sweets, and the beef is delicious and relatively cheap.
Hokkaido can be enjoyed even if you are only interested in its food; you will likely be wishing you had more meals during your trip! Repeat visitors are rewarded with different ingredients depending on the season. Food is one of Hokkaido’s highlights.
4.It Boasts Magnificent Natural Scenery
You cannot pass by Hokkaido’s vast landscape and magnificent natural scenery. The outstanding Jozankei valley, Japan’s northernmost point at cape Soya, the lavender fields of Furano, the Japanese cranes spending the winter in the Kushiro marshlands, the world heritage site Shiretoko Peninsula, and many more sites exist where you can feel the magnificence of nature. Although of course there are other amazing sites for nature, the locations named above are found all over Hokkaido, and cannot be visited in just a day or two. Hokkaido is massive; this scale makes it even more impressive!
5.Locals are Friendly and Hospitable
This is an experience of mine in Hokkaido: my daughter often cried loudly when in line at the cashier in the supermarket. I remember many locals offered to let us cut the line. People said hello when walking down the street, and helped us when we were in trouble. The locals are just so hospitable! Meeting people is a big part of the fun of travel. How kindly the locals treat you will surely become one of the memories you take home. Make sure to interact with the locals if you visit!
How does Hokkaido sound to you now?
Hokkaido is now a destination popular with tourists from around the world. There is far too much fun to be had in just one trip. I would like to recommend visiting Hokkaido twice or more, preferably in different seasons, for a great vacation.
This post is also available in: Japanese