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Located in the southwest of Hokkaido and facing the Tsugaru Strait, Hakodate developed as a port town for trade with foreign countries at the end of the 19th century, and is a gateway connecting Hokkaido with Honshu by the Seikan Tunnel.
A morning market is held at the bay area near the railway station, where more than 360 stalls packed tightly together attract shoppers with freshly caught squid, scallops, salmon eggs, Atka mackerel, and many other kinds of fresh fish and shellfish. A five-minute walk will take you to the moored Seikan Strait ferryboat, named the Mashu-maru Memorial Ship, which used to link Aomori in Honshu with Hokkaido. There is a restaurant and a coffee shop at its bow where you can spend a nice, relaxing time viewing the scenery around the port.
The area around Motomachi maintains a congenial blend of Japanese and Western cultures, being home to the Old Public Hall of Hakodate Ward, an important cultural property, the old British Consulate with its tea lounge, Hakodate Russian Orthodox church, as well as the Higashi-Hongan-ji Temple, a branch temple of the Higashi-Hongan-ji Temple in Kyoto. At the waterfront overlooking the Hakodate Port, there is a shopping mall inside remodeled red brick warehouses, gift shops and the Hakodate Beer Hall.
[Air] 1h 20 min from Haneda to Hakodate Airport.
[Air] 2h 10 min from Kansai International Airport to Hakodate Airport.
Lake Toya, which is situated in the southwestern part of Hokkaido, belongs to Shikotsu-Toya National Park. This caldera lake lies 11km east and west, 9km south and north and measuring 43km around. The active volcano that stands proudly near the lake with white smoke rising above it is Mt.Usu. It is one of the most active volcanoes, with repeated eruptions on a cycle of between 30 and 50 years. Its most recent eruption was in 2000. Live craters and the remains produced by volcano eruption can be closely observed. It was registered in world Geopark for the first time in Japan in 2010. Lake Toya hot spring, which stretches out along the lake, is one of the best spa resorts in Hokkaido. Various events such as fireworks are held throughout the year. The G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit was held in 2008. Many people from around the world gathered at Lake Toya. Abundant in nature, it is an excellent place to exchange world view on the global environment and climate change. There are many places of interest around Lake Toya including the Volcano Science Museum where they show visual images of the eruption that occurred in 1977 and 2000, complete with a special sound system.
Lake Toya is an ice-free lake. It never freezes, even in winter when the temperature falls quite drastically. The beauty of the ice-free lake can therefore be admired anytime during the year. There are big and small four islands called Nakajima in the middle of the lake, and on it is the Toyako Forest Museum, which is a part of the sightseeing boat route. Trout and smelt fishing are very popular sports in and around the lake. There are also fully facilitated camping sites.
[Air] 1h 30 min from Haneda to New Chitose Airport, and 2h from the airport via Minami-Chitose to Toya station by train(limited express for Hakodate). 15 min from JR Toya station to Toyako Onsen Bus Terminal by bus.
[Air] Approx. 2h from Itami or Kansai International Airport to New Chitose Airport.
Niseko is located in the Southwestern part of Hokkaido, in an alpine region that is dominated by Mt. Yotei (Yotei National Park) to the east and Mt Annupuri to the west. Niseko is conveniently located 100 kms from Sapporo which is Hokkaido’s largest city. The Niseko district has earned a reputation as one of the best ski area’s in the world, home to the Annupuri Ski Resort and the Niseko Village Ski Resort the resort is gaining momentum on the world stage.
However it is not just winter that is popular in Niseko, the summer’s are also very special and the district stands out as a all year round outdoor activity destination. The name Niseko is derived from the ethnic Ainu language of Hokkaido. Niseko Annupuri translates to “Mountain with a river, which runs around the bottom of a sheer cliff” The weather is typical inland weather, with an annual average temperature of 6.3 degrees Celsius, the deepest snow in winter is 200cm in depth.
Niseko is beautiful throughout every season of the year. The summer brings with it a variety of outdoor pursuits like climbing, canoeing, rafting and other outdoor activities. Winter brings with it not only beautiful scenery but also a variety of extreme winter sports. The area has a vast variety of Hot Springs on offer throughout the year however these are best enjoyed after skiing and really add value to your Niseko experience.
In Spring through to Summer (July to late August) the area is carpeted in colorful flowers, one of the most photographed scenes in Niseko is the ‘Famous Twin Cherry Blossom’ scene, it is 2 Large Cherry Blossom trees in the middle of a green field on the top of a small mound with Mt. Yotei in the background.
The walkways and treks around the district are world class. The views of Mt Yotei from the observation deck at the 1000 metre level on Mt Annupuri are absolutely out of this world, take a gondola up the mountain in the morning and enjoy the sensation of floating on clouds as the entire valley below is covered in cloud with Mt. Yotei the regions famous landmark majestically standing out above the clouds. From the viewpoint it is a very short 1.3 km walk to the Summit of Mt Annupuri, to get the feeling of truly being on top of the world. This is a great trek for everyone.
The Winter months bring with them a world of excitement with vast Ski Slopes and Powder Snow, You can enjoy world class skiing, a vast variety of Restaurants and Ski lessons. Ski Lessons are available for everyone from beginners to professionals.
[Air] 1h 30min from Haneda to Shin Chitose Airport and 1h and 12 min from the airport to the Otaru Station by the JR line “Kaisoku Airport” (Rapid Service) 1h and 40min from Otaru to Niseko Station by JR Hakodate Line.
[Bus] 3h from Sapporo to Niseko by local bus.
[Rail] 1h and 20min Hakodate to Oshamanbe Station by JR line “Super Hokuto” (limited express) and 1h and 30 min from Oshamanbe to Niseko Station by local train.
Chitose (千歳市 Chitose-shi?) is a city located in Ishikari Subprefecture, Hokkaido, Japan, and home to the New Chitose Airport, the biggest international airport in Hokkaido and closest airport to Sapporo, as well as the neighboring Chitose Air Base.
As of 2008, the city has an estimated population of 92,323 and a population density of 155 persons per km2. The total area is 594.95 km2. The city was founded on July 1, 1958. The city is notable for having a Peace Pagoda, built by the Japanese Buddhist order Nipponzan Myohoji in 1978.
The airport was recently renovated and expanded. Its newly added complex offers many attractive shopping, dining and entertainment facilities, making it one of the most pleasant airports in Japan.
One unique feature is Onsen Manyonoyu, a hot spring bathhouse situated in the terminal building itself, albeit without views of the airplanes. Instead, the planes can be observed from a free observation deck. A hotel inside the airport, the Air Terminal Hotel, offers convenient accommodation for those with early departures or late arrivals.
The Doraemon Wakuwaku Skypark features a kids’ playground, an amusement corner with game machines, a cafe and a souvenir shop, all under the theme of the world renowned animation character Doraemon. At Royce’ Chocolate World, visitors are able to observe the mechanized making of chocolates from the popular confectioner and shop from its wide selection of products. Steiff Nature World showcases a pleasant collection of over 2000 Steiff-made plush toys and collectibles.
Airport visitors also have a wide range of dining choices. In addition to a food court there are two themed food zones: the Hokkaido Ramen Dojo where diners can select ramen dishes from multiple shops across Hokkaido, and the Streetcar Dining District, which is nostalgically themed after the Sapporo of past decades and features various Hokkaido specialties. Multiple souvenir shops provide ample opportunities for some last-minute shopping.
And even more shopping is found just outside of the airport complex at the Rera Chitose Outlet Mall with hundreds of international and local brands on sale. The outlet mall can be reached in a ten minute ride by free shuttle bus or in a short walk from Minami-Chitose Station.
[Air] 1h 30 min from Haneda to Chitose Airport.
[Rail] 30 min to Chitose Station by JR
Rusutsu Resort (ルスツ) is considered one of the best ski resorts in Hokkaido. It has a large ski area that covers three mountains, each having a variety of long runs with a good mix of groomed trails, great powder and tree runs. It is located close to Lake Toya (Toyako) and is just on the other side of Mount Yotei from Niseko.
At the base of the ski slopes stand two large hotels, the Rusutsu Resort Hotel and the highrise Westin Rusutsu Resort. Several small pensions can be found in the nearby town center of Rusutsu. Besides skiing, Rusutsu Resort offers numerous other attractions, including restaurants and shops, pool facilities and hot spring baths. Summer activities include golf and an amusement park with over 60 attractions and 8 roller coasters.
Rusutsu Resort is located 90 minutes southwest of Sapporo and only a 90 minute drive from the New Chitose International Airport. There are shuttle buses between Rusutsu and the New Chitose Airport, and between Rusutsu and the city of Sapporo (booking available from October onwards).
Niseko is only 30-40 minutes away from Rusutsu Ski Resort and there are a few ground transport operators between the two resorts, or you can get from Niseko to Rusutsu for the day as part of a guided tour.
[Air] 1h 30 min from Haneda to New Chitose Airport, then multiple bus companies, including Hokkaido Chuo Bus, Niseko Bus and Hokkaido Access Network operate buses between Sapporo’s New Chitose Airport and Rusutsu. The one way trip takes about two hours and cost 2050 yen in case of Hokkaido Chuo Bus and Niseko Bus and 3500 yen in case of Hokkaido Access Network. Reservations are required. Most buses continue on to Niseko. Packages including lift tickets are available. Most of these buses operate only from December to early April.
Kiroro Resort is located in a mountain valley 2hrs drive from Chitose Airport. The top gondola station averages a massive 5m snow base with well over 17m+ in annual snow falls. There are 21 courses with the longest run at 4km. Two well-appointed international hotels are located at the base of the resort and provide over 400 rooms plus a wide range of restaurants and activities.
Kiroro is a place for people who carve a different path. Uncompromised, unspoiled and undiscovered. Kiroro is Five Star snow and lush summer forests in pristine Japanese wilderness. In Kiroro, the winter valleys are the snowiest on earth and the best place to learn to ski powder. The summer forests are abundant with nature and adventure for your family to explore and find your perfect selves. Kiroro is quality over quantity, warm welcomes, attention to detail, excellence at every turn.
[Air] 1h 30min from Haneda to Shin Chitose Airport. From the Sapporo New Chitose Airport, Kiroro is a 2 hour bus ride. Alternatively it’s a 70 minute express train ride to Otaru, followed by a 30-50 minute trip by taxi or bus to Kiroro.
[Bus] 3h from Sapporo to Niseko by local bus.
Otaru is situated in the western part of Hokkaido, facing Ishikari Bay. It has developed and prospered as “the sea entrance of Hokkaido” over the last 100 years and it has gained the nickname “Wall Street of the North.” The glassworks shops, coffee shops, restaurants and shopping malls along the canal have been converted from stone-built or brick-built warehouses, which were used for storage in the days when commerce flourished and the canal was crowded with jostling barges. When night falls, oil lamps on the cobbled streets are lit, and the town evokes a gentle, nostalgic mood.
Otaru’s nickname is “the town of hills” as there are so many hills, including Jigoku-zaka (hell hill) – a very steep slope, and the long, winding Funami-zaka. Mt. Tengu that towers behind Otaru is a popular ski resort in winter. There is an observation point on Mt. Tengu, and the panoramic view including the whole of Otaru and its port area is absolutely wonderful. There are also cable cars to take you to the mountaintop.
The coastal area in the suburb of Otaru belongs to Niseko-Shakotan-Otaru-Beach Quasi-National Park and beauty spots, including the cliffs at Omotai attract many visitors, especially in summer.
[Air] 1h 30 min from Haneda to New Chitose Airport, and 1h 11 min from the airport to Otaru Station by JR Chitose-Hakodate Line (rapid train).
[Air] 2h 10 min from Itami, or 2h 15 min from Kansai International Airport to New Chitose Airport
Sapporo in western Hokkaido is divided up in a grid pattern, and is the largest city on the island. Odori Park stretches from east to west in the center of the city, and is a symbol of the city – full of art objects, fountains, lilac and acacia plants and lots of flowerbeds. To the north stand trading companies, financial institutions and local government offices, while to the south is a large underground shopping mall, which as the city’s main shopping center is always busy. It is connected directly to Sapporo Station, which is the transportation hub for all of Hokkaido and the place to board JR lines, the subway, and both local and tourist buses.
The city contains many essential sights: the Sapporo Clock Tower, which has been marking time for over a century; the former Hokkaido government office building, a neo-baroque building known as “Red Brick” that is lit up after dark; and the poplars outside Hokkaido University (formerly Hokkaido Agricultural College).
Odori Park is more than 1,400 meters long. In summer it is full of beer gardens, while in winter it becomes the location for a snow festival. During the festival, this big park is lined with magnificent snow statues and beautiful ice statues.
[Air] 1h 30 min from Haneda to New Chitose Airport. 35 min from the airport to Sapporo Station by JR Chitose Line (rapid train).
[Rail] 17h from Tokyo to Sapporo by sleeping car.
[Air] 2h from Itami, or 2h 15 min from Kansai International Airport to New Chitose Airport.
Mount Tomamu is popular as a winter resort area that offers skiing, but a spot that attracts tourists in the summer opened in 2006. This spot is Unkai Terrace, which is run by Hoshino Resorts Tomamu. Here, you can enjoy activities such as eating light meals and yoga while taking in a view of a majestic sea of clouds that covers the surface of the mountain.
However, the sea of clouds can only be seen early in the morning and when conditions such as temperature, humidity, wind speed, and wind direction are right. There is only a 30 to 40 percent chance of its appearing even during the season from May to October, when Unkai Terrace is open. One activity that can be enjoyed on days when the sea of clouds does not appear is to stroll along the path around the terrace.
[Air] 1h 45 min from Haneda to New Chitose Airport. Take the JR rapid train “Airport” for 3 minutes from New Chitose Airport to Minami-Chitose Station, switch to the JR limited express “Super Tokachi”, and arrive at Tomamu Station in about 70 minutes.
Obihiro occupies the central part of the Tokachi Plain along the middle reaches of the Tokachi-gawa River in the southeastern part of Hokkaido, and it is the region’s center of politics, economics and logistics. The city center is divided into sections like a checkerboard, which imitates the layout of Washington, D.C. in the United States, so it is therefore very easy to get around even if you are very new to the city.
The magnificent Midori-ga-oka-koen Park and Suiko-en Garden, which are located one kilometer from the city center, are proud of their 50 hectares of green area. The Obihiro Centennial Memorial Hall in the park was built in 1982 and contains many references to and much information about Obihiro’s history. Wildlife habitats that symbolize the nature of Tokachi are also on display there. There is also a memorial museum near the park dedicated to Naomi Uemura – the great mountaineer. In summer, an idyllic view is created when some 1,500 cows are put out to pasture at the Yachiyo Public Farm.
Lake Shikaribetsu-ko is another place for you to visit. This beautiful lake is situated at the southeastern tip of Taisetsu-zan National Park and is surrounded by a primeval forest of white fir and spruce trees. Canoeing and hot-air ballooning can be enjoyed on the southwestern side of Lake Shikaribetsu-ko.
The Tokachi-onsen Hot Spring is an ideal place for you to relax. It is famous for its high quality spring water – very smooth to the skin, which bubbles out of the center of Tokachi Plain. It is a very popular spa resort that links the scenic Taisetsu and Akan areas.
[Air] 1h 35 min from Haneda to Obihiro Airport, and 40 min from the airport to Obihiro Station by bus.
Furano is situated along the middle reaches of the Sorachi River in the central part of Hokkaido and it belongs to Furano-Ashibetsu Nature Park. Because of its geographical position, which is almost right in the middle of Hokkaido, Furano has a unique nickname – “the navel town.” Every summer, a humorous navel festival is held in Furano, during which about 3,000 participants draw funny faces on their bellies and dance around in the main street.
Furano’s natural beauty can be appreciated throughout the seasons of the year – beautiful stardust in the winter sky, charming ‘mizubasho,’ Japanese skunk cabbage flowers along the roadside in spring, the inviting fragrance of lavender in summer, and the gloriously red and yellow tinted leaves in fall. The name “Furano” actually originates from the Ainu (an ethnic group indigenous to Hokkaido) word ‘furanui’ – meaning fragrant flame. Furano created the Furano Lavender-no-Mori lavender field to commemorate the 80th anniversary of its municipal government. Many people visit the lavender field in summer when the lavender bloom is at its best. Taking a stroll along the path through the forest of sweetly scented lavender is really a must when you visit Furano in summer.
You can also enjoy outdoor activities in Furano all year round. Rafting trips down the Sorachi River and hot-air balloon flights are organized by the Alpine Visitor Center, and the nearby Kita-no-Mine is a popular ski resort in winter.
[Air] 1h 35 min from Haneda to Asahikawa Airport/2h 5 min from Chubu Centrair International Airport to Asahikawa Airport, and 1h from the airport to Furano Station by bus.
Kushiro, which is well known as “the town of mist,” is situated in the southeastern part of Hokkaido, facing the Pacific Ocean. Kushiro plays a leading role in the politics, economics and culture of eastern Hokkaido. The marine products industry of Kushiro has flourished since the early 20th century, and the long and narrow city centering on Kushiro Port still retains many features of the streets of the early 20th century port town. Takuboku Ishikawa, a famous poet and novelist, lived in Kushiro during those days, so there is also a literary atmosphere to the city.
A monument to Takuboku Ishikawa can be found in Yonemachi Park, where you can enjoy a fantastic view of Kushiro Port from an observation point. If you would like to treat yourself to a gourmet meal or enjoy shopping, Kushiro Fishermen’s Wharf MOO is the place to go. This is a very popular place for both the local people and visitors, and there is always a lively, cheerful and welcoming atmosphere.
In the north of Kushiro is Japan’s largest marshland, Kushiro wetland, which stretches out over the majority of the Kushiro Plain. Kushiro wetland is listed as a national park. Kushiro Tancho Nature Park is known as the site of the first successful artificial breeding of tancho cranes (Japanese cranes), which are designated as special natural monuments. There are currently about 20 tancho cranes residing in the park. They can be seen all year round.
[Air] 1h 50 min from Haneda to Kushiro Airport, and 45 min from the airport to Kushiro Station by bus.
[Air] 2h from Kansai International Airport to Kushiro Airport. (limited schedule).
Asahikawa is the second largest city in the prefecture after Sapporo. The city is full of natural splendor, with the magnificent Daisetsuzan Mountain Range in the background and 120 rivers flowing through it. It is also the gateway for tourism to Soun Gorge and the Furano area. Asahikawa’s thriving art world has led it to be called a town for art. Sculptures that made a famous sculptor dot the shopping park along Heiwa-dori Avenue, the road that leads straight from Asahikawa Station.
Situated on a hill overlooking the town, the Hokkaido Traditional Arts and Crafts Village is full of buildings resembling castles from the Middle Ages in Europe, and has the atmosphere of an amusement park. There is a gallery of works made using the world-famous Yukara-ori, the traditional textile fabric of Hokkaido, from which you can get a better understanding of traditional Japanese fabric.
Japan’s northernmost Zoo, Asahiyama Zoo is a one of the highlight of the city. The concept of the zoo is to provide an environment where each species can use their abilities and a space where each animal can relax. Visitors enjoy watching diving polar bear, a spotted seal swim in the narrow tunnel and more very close at hand.
Also, Asahikawa has a ramen-noodle area the equal to that found in Sapporo, and its countless ramen-noodle restaurants are always busy.
[Air] 1h 50 min from Haneda to Asahikawa Airport.
[Rail] 1h 20 min to Asahikawa Station by JR Hakodate Line (limited express).
[Air] 2h 5 min from Chubu Centrair International Airport to Asahikawa Airport
The Shiretoko Peninsula in eastern Hokkaido juts out into the Sea of Okhotsk. It is said to be the last unexplored region of Japan, and consists of steep mountain peaks covered with virgin forests. Cormorants and white-tailed sea eagles live there, and the whole area has been designated as a national park. The towns of Utoro and Rausu on the eastern side of the peninsula are the starting points for tourists. Visitors can see the whole of the peninsula and its cliffs by boarding a sightseeing boat that departs from Utoro Port.
Shiretoko is known as a “waterfall kingdom,” and many waterfalls can be seen from the sightseeing boat: the Kamuiwakkayu hot Falls, which gives off steam; Furepe waterfall, which is so beautiful it is called “maiden’s tears;” and Oshinkoshin waterfall, which flows alongside a road and drops magnificently towards the sea. There are also the Shiretoko-Goko lakes (five lakes), which are small, quiet lakes surrounded by a virgin forest, and known as “the five jewels.” You can walk round these five lakes in about an hour. In winter, the coasts of Shiretoko are sometimes surrounded by ice floes.
In Rausu, Rausu konbu, a kind of seaweed, and Seseki hot spring that bubble up into the sea are well-known.
[Air] 1h 40 min from Haneda to Memanbetsu Airport, and 2h 15 min from the airport to Utoro by bus.
[Air] 1h 50 min from Chubu Airport to Memambetsu Airport.
[Rail] 4h 58 min to Wakkanai Station by JR Hakodate and Soya lines (limited express).
Mombetsu is famous for sightseeing aboard the Garinko ice breaker, the Okhotsk Sea Ice Museum of Hokkaido, and so on. It is rich an area with a northern natural environment and is home to the Omusaro wildflower garden and Komuke wildflower garden.
Some little facts about Mombetsu, it’s a city in the northeast of Hokkaido. The name Mombetsu came from “Moupetto” (calm river), a word of aboriginal Ainu of Hokkaido. The local speciality is crab which is reputably the best in Japan. Monbetsu is also famous for drift ice, a yearly phenomenon which reaches the city every January or February from the northern Sea of Okhotsk.
Wakkanai, the northernmost city in Japan, is a port city sandwiched between the Sea of Japan and the Sea of Okhotsk. It is called the “wind town” because strong winds blow on so many days. The port is a center for fishing boats bringing in rich catches of shellfish, such as crab, sea urchin and scallop. It also has ferries going to the Rishiri-to and Rebun-to islands, both of which are designated as national parks. Along the coastline is one of the few seawalls in the world that is shaped like a Greek temple. It is in the shape of a 427-meter-long half-arch, and contains a walkway inside.
Cape Noshappu, the location of the Wakkanai Lighthouse – the tallest in Hokkaido, is a 10-minute bus ride from Wakkanai Station. The cape is known as a place where you can watch the sun set beautifully below the horizon and into the sea.
Thirty kilometers east of Wakkanai is Cape Soya, the northernmost point in Hokkaido. The cape has a stone monument in the shape of a triangular pyramid, which was built in the image of the Pole Star. On a clear day, you can see the outline of Sakhalin Island 43 kilometers away.
[Air] 1h 45 min from Haneda to Wakkanai Airport.
[Rail] 4h 58 min to Wakkanai Station by JR Hakodate and Soya lines (limited express).