6 March 2019 Hokkaido, Japan


Hokkaido, the northernmost of Japan’s main islands, is known for its volcanoes, natural hot springs (onsen) and ski areas. Rugged Daisetsuzan National Park is home to steaming, volcanic Mount Asahi. Shikotsu-Tōya National Park contains caldera lakes, geothermal springs and a Mount Fuji look-alike, Mount Yōtei. Popular ski resorts include Rusutsu, Furano and Niseko.

I know, Hokkaido is often not the prime choice for travellers deciding on their first travel destination in Japan. Most travellers coming to Hokkaido have already trawled the streets of Tokyo, visited numerous temples in Kyoto, and feasted on the famous okonomiyaki in Osaka. What they are looking for next is a different experience in Japan – and that is exactly what they can get in Hokkaido. Trust me, I knew because I was one of them.

My trip to Hokkaido wasn’t a long one and it happened about 6 years ago, but nonetheless, it offered me an immersive experience that revealed Hokkaido’s best characteristics. At the end of my trip, I feel like I want to revisit this beautiful place someday. Find out the following reasons to know why.

Four Seasons

The cherry blossoms bloom in Hokkaido during April up to Mid May. Aside from the Hanami season, Spring brings the bounty of the sea back to the tables and stomach of the locals. It may also come as a surprise, but the skiing resorts are still open in Niseko and Mt. Kurodake during this time of year.

One of the most noticeable changes in Hokkaido during the summer are the flowers. The most popular example of this is the world-renowned Lavender fields in Furano. Here you’ll find rows and rows of flowers in different colours as if you’re looking at a rainbow on the ground. The rich and vibrant colours are a favourite among the tourists who visit Hokkaido just to see the flower fields during the summer.

Some people say that the best place to go in Japan during Autumn is Hokkaido. Since this land is well known for its untouched natural beauty, it’s hard to deny that claim. For seasonal travellers, the trip to Hokkaido during this time of the year won’t be complete without tasting the seasonal delicacies.

Photo credit to Nazrul bin Buang
Hokkaido offers many things to do throughout the year. The mild weather in summer is great for exploring the green hills and national parks. Visit the lakes, rivers and mountains for hiking, mountain biking, canoeing and rafting. See animals and birds in their natural habitats and bathe in volcanic waters with picturesque backdrops. In winter you can enjoy world-class skiing at the many resorts on the island. Alternative winter sports, like snowshoeing, dog-sledging and snowmobiling, are also available and you can attend one of the grandest festivals in Japan—the Sapporo Snow Festival.

Delicious Foods

There are so many delicious foods in Hokkaido but the most memorable one that I had tried, was lavender soft-serve ice cream. A major sightseeing location representing Hokkaido is Farm Tomita with lavender fields and flower gardens. A variety of lavender flavoured sweets are available such as lavender soft-served ice cream, pudding, cream puffs and other sweets. Also they server lunch meals that use seasonal ingredients. We will take a look at the food and lavender products perfect for gifts.

There are various cafes and shops offering light meals on the big farm. The first must eat item at Farm Tomita is the lavender soft-serve ice cream. Mixing lavender extract into fresh Hokkaido cream, this original lavender soft-serve ice cream can only be experienced here. Taking a bite out of the smooth textured light purple cream, the refreshing lavender flavour expands in your mouth! Another popular item is the cantaloupe soft-serve ice cream with a rich taste, the ice cream is made with Hokkaido cantaloupe juice.

Hokkaido is renowned for tasty local seafood, thanks to the surrounding seas. When talking about Hokkaido, seafood like crabs and sea urchins come into mind. The markets found all over Hokkaido are places where you can get a hold of fresh seafood and various foods, and even eat them on the spot. You can easily find many popular seafood cuisines and markets on the Internet.

Beautiful Landscape

You will find wonderful scenic spots, such as the colourful panoramic land and the mysterious scenery that nature creates. This is something you want to see once. Let’s go and take pictures of inspiring sceneries right in front of you in Hokkaido! 

Just like the popular Otaru Canal (小樽運河, Otaru Unga) shown above, it was a central part of the city's busy port in the first half of the 20th century. Large vessels were unloaded by smaller ships, which then transported the goods to warehouses along the canal.

The canal became obsolete when modern dock facilities allowed for direct unloading of larger vessels. Thanks to a citizens' movement, a part of the canal were beautifully restored in the 1980s instead of being landfilled, while the warehouses were transformed into museums, shops and restaurants.

Let me share some of the photos that I took during my last visit to Hokkaido which happened about 6 years ago. I know right~ I should revisit anytime soon.

Here is the photo that I took on the first day that I arrived at Sapporo. To see the snow in reality for the first time. I was shooked. It was too beautiful!

This photo was taken when I woke up early in the morning. This view was just outside of the window in my hotel room. Imagine woke up every morning for this kind of view. I got no complaints. It was totally worth it.

Sledging down the snow hill at -4 degree Celsius!! 🛷❄️ The first time was in Aussie and this time sledging in Japan yo. It was super duper fun as my siblings and I keep sledging for a couple of times. 

How to Get There
Hokkaido is accessible by plane from all major airports in Japan to New Chitose Airport outside of Sapporo. It's also possible to take the bullet train from Tokyo; the journey is fully covered by the Japan Rail Pass.

Do you know the Japan Government is expanding International Airlines to 19 Cities in 9 countries/regions? Direct flights entering service lately:-
  • 2012 Bangkok
  • 2015 Kuala Lumpur
  • 2016 Singapore
  • 2018 Vladivostok
  • 2018 Manila
  • 2019 Finland

They also have Emergency Support Station for Tourist in the event of natural disasters (earthquake, typhoon etc) and accidents (blackout, terrorism etc). It even comes with multiple languages (so considerate) You can find all the information, consultation and others such as charging locations for smartphones and wi-fi spots at there.

If you're worried about the natural disaster before your visit to Hokkaido, you can always get Hokkaido Safety Travel Information at
Twitter account of Hokkaido Tourist Office : @TourismHokkaido

Hokkaido Government Representative Office
Website : http://www.hokkaido-asean.org/
Facebook Page : Hokkaido Government

Speak about natural disasters, I'm impressed with their technology. We all knew natural disasters affect life, both developing or developed. Just like Hokkaido hit a typhoon last September and Tohoku tsunami which happened on 2011. Many lives have been lost. After the tragedy, they are enhancing disaster resilience. They use the supercomputers to breakthrough and to detect the coming disaster. Moreover, they also have emergency robots to prevent happenings.

In order to have all the preparations ready, they will directly send the natural disaster response system to the prime minister once they got the result. For me, it was so efficient and I never doubt their technology. I have been travelling to Japan four times and I will continue to pay a visit again and again. HAHAHA.

The number of tourists has been on the rise every year. In 2011, there was a total of 560,000 visitors to Hokkaido. The number of foreign visitors to Hokkaido in 2017 was 2.8 mil. Hokkaido aims to attract 5 mil visitors by 2020. So what are you waiting for? Plan your trip to Hokkaido now.

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