Hokkaido is one of the four main islands of Japan. Sapporo is the largest city and also the administrative center of Hokkaido with the streets neatly arranged like a chessboard. It was once a mysterious island but today it is a natural miniature with the marvelous beauty of the mountain scenery, vast plateaus, rivers, lakes and sea. Hokkaido is always not to be missed destination of many tourists with the beautiful scenery throughout the four seasons. This island becomes glamorous with white snow in winter, gentle with the pink color of cherry blossoms in spring, romantic with purple lavender fields in summer and turns red as autumn comes.
Goryokaku is a star-shaped fort in French style . It was built under the Tokugawa shogunate in 1864 with the aim of protecting the north. Goryokaku was the first Western fort in Japan and was recognized as a special historic site. No longer used as a military fortress, the star-shaped work and surrounding sites have been transformed into a public park with 1,600 cherry trees planted inside. Goryokaku Park is rated as one of the best place to view cherry blossoms in springtime. In the middle of the park stands Hakodate Magistrate’s Office. It is a reconstructed building which characterised Japanese traditional architecture.
2. Farm Tomita
Farm Tomita is the best spot to view lavender in Hokkaido with purple carpets of lavender in rainbow pattern covering hillsides. Standing from Tokachi mountain looking down, visitors will not help feeling overwhelmed by the beauty of this kind of flower. Wandering on the giant purple fields with the fresh air and scent of lavender, you can just imagine this place is paradise. During peak seasons, lavender will dominate the landscape. This is the time when you can see people harvesting flowers. You can also buy products derived from lavender like soap, tea of perfume.
Shiretoko is a long and narrow peninsula in eastern Hokkaido. Its name means ” the place at the end of the Earth”. Shiretoko is a natural heritage recognized in 2005. It is considered as the last pristine wilderness remaining in Japan with many endangered species. Shiretoko is popular with visitors not only by the volcanoes but also by majestic primeval forests on the cliffs overlooking the sea. In winter, the surface of Shirotoko seas are obscured by drifting ice pieces. Visitors can take “ice walk tour” to float in the bitter cold water.
4. Ainu kotan
Ainu kotan is a model village and also a living museum about history and culture of the Ainu by the white icing Poroto lake. Visitors will have the chance to enjoy “iyomante rinse” ,“satoruncikap rinse” and “emus rinse” which are folk dances illustrating the Ainu’s traditional rituals. Pon-Chise Ainu museum where crafts, clothes and daily life utensils are displayed will gives travelers the opportunity to learn more about culture of the ancient Ainu.
5. Higashimokoto Shibazakura Park
Higashimokoto is one of the most impressive destinations in Hokkaido island. The best time for you to visit the park is from mid-May to early June, while hillsides are covered by a giant “carpet” of Moss Phlox flowers (often called shibazakura). At bloom times, the locals hold annual flower festival full of events with the theme of shibazakura flower More than 10 hectares wide of land is wrapped in the pink velvet tapestry of blooming flowers. Hokkaido garden path is a tourist route linking seven most beautiful gardens of Hokkaido. It stretches about 200 kilometers from Asahikawa to Furano and Tokachi. Each garden has its own special characteristics creating an impressive picture. On this tour route, visitors will have the opportunity to enjoy the natural landscape and participate in camping or picnic activities.
Niseko is a typical ski resort of Hokkaido. Its majestic mountains are said to be similar to European scenery. Throughout the year there are abundant recreational activities with many hot springs which attract a lot of domestic tourists and foreign guests. When it changes from spring to summer, you can see the contrast image between the remaining white snow on the mountain “Yoteizan” with the green fields. There is a wide range of activities for you to choose such as walking around the lake, golf, sailing, horse riding or cycling. Niseko’s busiest time is in winter, you can relax at Snow Resort to play with white snow particles. Niseko’s food is also very attractive. You can enjoy crab dishes, sushi, Genghis Khan or fresh fruit and vegetables picked right in this area such as potatoes, asparagus, tomato, pumpkin…
7. Daisetsuzan National Park
Daisetsuzan is a range of mountains with the height of about 2000m. The majestic mountains are so beautiful that the Ainu – the indigenous people of Hokkaido- call them as “garden of the Gods”. The main mountain “Asashidake” is the highest one in Hokkaido. The large area nearly 230,000 hectares of Asahidake was designated as a national park. On top of the mountain, despite being in the middle of summer still exists snow valley. There is a wide variety of animals and plants living at each altitude and latitude. At the highest peak of Asahidake, there are cable cars at about 1600m height above the forest. Daisetsuzan National Park belongs to a volcanic zone so there are many onsens such as “Sounkyo onsen”, “Ashahidake onsen”, “Tenninkyo onsen”, “Tokachidake onsen” , “Tomuraushi onsen”…
8. Lake Shikotsu
Lake Shikotsu is located in the southwest of Hokkaido. With the average depth of 265m and the deepest one is about 360m, it is the 2nd deepest lake in Japan after Lake Tawaza. The lake is surrounded by three volcanoes. Looking from above, Shikotsu is like a small turquoise silk being surrounded by ranges Eniwa, Fuppushi and Tarumae as a treasure is being guarded. When Autumn comes, the trees shading in yellow eventide evoke a vague feeling of sad. In winter, the water in the lake will freeze and you will have the opportunity to skate and participate in Shikotsu Ice Festival.
9. Ishiya chocolate factory
The building is designed with Western romantic style.We will meet a waterfall first with subtle shimmer giving a sense of warmth.Upon entering inside the plant tour, we will get to see the whole production process of sweet and fragrant chocolate with all sorts of shapes and colors through a transparent glass layer. Additionally, we also have a chance to observe the entire production process as well as the history of chocolate shown vividly in 3D when passing a unique and mysterious “chocolate tunnel”. After visiting the whole factory, we can learn to make chocolate in workshops for visitors.
10. Jigokudani monkey park
Jigokudani Park is situated in the valley of the Yokoyu river, Nagano Prefecture. The name of this place means “valley of hell” because it is covered by hot steam from underground geothermal hot springs. It is the most famous place in the world with snow monkeys. When the temperature here is lower than 0 degrees Celsius, visitors will have an interesting experience to watch the snow monkeys dipping themselves in the open-air hot springs.