- Airport – New Chitose Airport (Sapporo, CTS)
- Currency – Japanese Yen (¥)
- Language – Japanese
- Population – 5.5 million
The second largest island in Japan after Honshu (where Tokyo is situated), Hokkaidō is an incredible destination for outdoor activities, delicious seafood and more. Made up mainly of the countryside and mountains, Hokkaidō only holds 5% of Japan’s population despite its large physical size.
Since the Japanese people didn’t really come to Hokkaidō until the late 1800s, you can visit Kyoto or other Japanese cities to see more of the history such as Japanese shrines. You come to Hokkaidō to experience the beautiful landscapes, the outdoor adventures and of course, the deliciously fresh food.
Popular Cities on the Island of Hokkaidō
- By flight
- The closest airport is the New Chitose Airport — it sits about 1 hour from the city of Sapporo by car or by public transportation. You can also fly into the next closest airport, Asahikawa. It is around 2.5 hours away by car, but there are no public transportation options to Hokkaidō from there
- By train
- The Shinkansen bullet train now runs to Hokkaidō, giving travelers access to Japan’s high speed rail. You can take the train to Sapporo, Niseko, Tokyo, and Noboribetsu. It also makes 16 round trips a day, which is enough to make travel convenient for visitors.
Skiing, Snowboarding, Rafting & More!
Hokkaidō is a great place to get out of the city and enjoy nature! In the winter, you should definitely go skiing in one of the many ski resorts in Hokkaidō. The powdery snow is superb, as Hokkaidō is located in one of the most northern locations in Japan. In the summer, there are many things to do as well! Go mountain biking through the Niseko Mountains, white water rafting down the Mukawa River, and salmon fishing in the Churui River.
Relax at an Onsen
An onsen is an outdoor hot spring, many of which are found exclusively in Japan. Many of these in Hokkaidō are found in the town of Noboribetsu, which is known for its location, beautiful scenery, and the healing properties of its springs. The onsens in Noboribetsu are also close to the Chitose Airport, which make visiting even more convenient. Definitely stop by one of the onsen to relax and relieve your stress.
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Visit the National Parks
National Parks make up around 10% of the area in the Hokkaidō prefecture. The oldest were established in 1934, Daisetsuzan being one of them. Daisetsuzan is the largest national park, located in mountains in the center of the prefecture. Shireteko, another park, is located on the peninsula. Other parks worth mentioning are Rishiri & Rebun and Onuma Park, which are both picturesque, beautiful areas where you can hike, bike, and enjoy the scenery.
When visiting Hokkaidō, you definitely need to make a stop at Sapporo! As the fifth biggest city in Japan, Sapporo is also the capital of the Hokkaidō prefecture. The city is also known for its beer; if you’re interested, check out the Sapporo Beer Garden, a restaurant and bar that serves tastes of the best beer in the city. If you are visiting Sapporo in the winter, be sure to visit the Annual Snow Festival, where giant ice structures are displayed. Annually, many people compete to create the best snow sculpture. There are also numerous parks and landmarks in the city worth a visit such as the Takino Suzuran Hillside National Park, the Sapporo Beer Museum, and Moerenuma Park.
One of the best things to do in Hokkaidō is sample all of the fresh and delicious foods that the island has to offer. Keep reading for our recommendations and favorite foods to sample.
In Hakodate you’ll find these delicious bowls filled with Uni (sea urchin), Ikura (salmon roe) and Crab!
As a large island surrounded by water, Hokkaidō offers some of the best seafood available in Japan! You will find very large crabs, delicious scallops, and fresh sea urchin in many restaurants along the waterfront. Besides seafood, you can easily find delicious ramen, fruits and vegetables, and sushi in the prefecture.
Foods to Try
- Ikura – Salmon roe
- Ika – Squid
- Uni – Sea Urchin
- Ramen – Noodles
- Jingisukan – Grilled meat and vegetable dish
Another delicious meal in Hakodate: Ikura, uni and crab with soup and hot tea
Learn Japanese: After being served, bow and say Arigatō gozaimas. This translates to thank you very much!