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Japan's epic northern wilderness

It's a whole new world on the northern island of Hokkaido.

The northernmost and least developed of Japan’s main islands, Hokkaido is a vision of untamed, epic wilderness. It has wild bears roaming in the deep green forests, hawks circling above crystal clear lakes and smoking craters, rugged shores, and offshore islands within touching distance of Russia. It’s also home to the Ainu, Japan’s indigenous population of hunter-gatherers who are fighting to maintain their way of life as globalization looms.


eneral view of people snowboarding on a tree-lined piste in the Niseko Grand Hirafu ski resort, Hokkaido, Japan. Mt Yotei can be seen in the background.

Niseko scores top points for apres-ski culture.

Heavy snowfall during the winter attracts skiers and snowboarders to the powder capital of Japan, Niseko. Mild summers also the mountains almost overrun with city-dwellers looking for relief from the muggy climate of the main island. There are National Parks galore. Shiretoko, a World Heritage site, and Daisetsuzan are the most popular. In autumn, Hokkaido is the first prefecture in Japan where the leaves change colors.

Sapporo is the bustling capital city of Hokkaido. It’s actually Japan’s fifth-largest city. The annual snow festival in February, which displays gravity-defying snow sculptures throughout the streets, and the famous Sapporo beer, have established the city as a tourist destination in its own right.


Goryokaku Park in Hakodate, Hokkaido

Miss Japan: Hakodate boasts the title of ‘Japan’s most attractive city’.

The harbor city of Hakodate, at the island’s southern tip, was one of the earliest cities in Japan to open to international trade and there’s some exceptional seafood to be had along its cosmopolitan streets. Smaller, but just as perfectly formed, Otaru is a canal-lined port city also famed for its food. Asahikawa, the second-largest city in Hokkaido after Sapporo, is worth a visit for its exceptional zoo.

Hokkaido is world-famous for its seafood and fish, especially crab and sea-urchin. It’s also the main producer of the nation’s dairy. A Hokkaido dish will usually have some kind of dairy addition—ramen is served with a knob of butter—and outside of the island, you’ll notice that the most coveted dairy products are usually Hokkaido brand.

It wouldn’t be a Japanese natural landscape without the promise of hot springs. Head to Noboribetsu, Hokkaido’s most popular onsen retreat, for a spot of incredibly scenic R&R. Noboribetsu was also named one of GaijinPot Travel’s Top 10 Japan Travel Destinations for 2018.

Places to visit

Lake Akan Ainu Kotan


The eastern region of Kushiro abounds in national parks, wildlife and a huge seafood market.

Abashiri Drift Ice

Abashiri Okhotsk Drift Ice Festival

Abashiri celebrates the arrival of the Siberian Okhotsk drift ice with a range of ice-related activities like drift Ice boat cruising, drift ice tours and smelt fishing.



A fascinating natural occurrence known as Ryuhyo, or drift ice, can be witnessed in a quaint port town located on the northeastern tip of Hokkaido.

Ice Village at Lake Shikaribetsu Kotan

Ice Village at Lake Shikaribetsu Kotan

Atop a frozen freshwater lake and sea of snow, Japan’s Ice Village reappears every winter.

Upopoy National Ainu Museum and Park

An immersive experience for visitors to learn about the traditional Ainu way of life

Hinode Park

A place that is quite a favorite for lovers and newlywed couples. Here both early and late blooming lavenders bloom, so flowers can be seen throughout the season.

Shiretoko National Park Mountain Hokkaido

Shiretoko Peninsula

Journey to the “end of the world” in Hokkaido’s far north for camping, trekking, and more.

otaru, hokkaido

Otaru Snow Light Path Festival

Japan’s most romantic snow festival.

Bar Gyu+

Warm up with a hot drink after a day of skiing in Niseko.


Shiroi Koibito Park

Where Hokkaido's famous cookies are made.

Sapporo Snow Festival

Join the most popular winter festival in Japan in February.

Feeling Icy at Lake Shikotsu.

Lake Shikotsu Ice Festival

It's time for an... ice wedding at this annual winter wonderland in the heart of a national park.

Hokkaido Butter Ramen in Japan
Niseko Ski Village in Hokkaido Japan


World-class powder at Japan's most famous ski resort.

Jozankei, Japan Town Skyline

Jozankei Onsen

The great Kappa King awaits you in Sapporo’s backyard.

Odori Park

The coolest park in Sapporo, even when there's no snow!

Field of flowers stretching for miles. Taken in Biei, Japan.


So this is what they mean by frolicking.

Cherry blossom in Goryokaku Hakodate Hokkaido Japan


Step back in time at this historic Hakodate fort turned public park.

Moiwa, Niseko, Hokkaido

Niseko Moiwa Ski Resort

All the snow with none of the crowds in Hokkaido.

Sapporo Beer Museum

When in Sapporo…

Spring fairy sculpture at 45th Asahikawa Winter Festival

Asahikawa Winter Festival

Marvel at the largest snow sculpture in Japan.

New Chitose Airport in Chitose.

New Chitose Airport

The gateway to Hokkaido.

Cherry blossom in Goryokaku Hakodate Hokkaido Japan


In 2015, Hakodate was voted Japan’s most attractive city and it’s not hard to see why.

Sapporo Rainbow Pride

Pride in the north! ?

Demon Fireworks of Noboribetsu

Is the path to hell paved with good intentions, or fireworks?

Hakodate Tropical Botanical Garden

Hot-tubbing monkeys in winter and some of the world’s most exotic plants.

Yoichi Nikka Whisky Distillery

Visit the home of Japan’s 'Father of Whisky' while treating yourself to world-class spirits.


Sapporo's entertainment district with some of Japan's best miso ramen.

Maruyama Park

Get a breathtaking view of Sapporo’s seasons in the city’s most picturesque park.

4 LGBT Bars in Sapporo

A night out in one of Japan's most LGBT-friendly areas.

Hakodate Bay

Take a cruise on the Blue Moon while exploring Hakodate’s famed commercial district.

Hokkaido Jingu

Try the first shrine visit of the year here for an authentic Japanese New Year experience.

Lucky Pierrot

Only in Hakodate: Local burger chain serves up zany, cheap and tasty fast food. Try the Chinese Chicken Burger!

Asahiyama Zoo

Asahiyama Zoo

Take a front-row seat to all the animal action at this interactive zoo.

Sapporo Clock Tower

Sapporo's symbolic landmark straight from the American mid-west.

Moerenuma Park

Get in touch with art and nature at this stunning outdoor sculpture park just outside of Sapporo.

Lake Shikotsu at Shikotsu Toya National Park in Hokkaido, Japan.

Shikotsu-Toya National Park

Located not far from Sapporo and New Chitose Airport, this natural haven is the most easily accessible national park in Hokkaido.

A group of penguins, which is the popular main tourist attraction in Asahikawa Zoo in Hokkaido, Japan.


Exercising penguins. That's all you need to know.

Mountain landscape near Asahidake in Daisetsuzan national park, Hokkaido. With ropeway station.

Daisetsuzan National Park

The spectacular soul of Hokkaido.

Biei Blue Lake Hokkaido


Pretty enough for your desktop.

Famous Noboribetsu hot springs, Hokkaido, Japan


Noboribetsu's hot spring retreat turns a visit to hell into a dream vacation.

Canals of Otaru, Hokkaido, Japan.


The Venice of the wild North.

Sapporo, Japan downtown city skyline at Odori Park.


An entertaining gateway to the Hokkaido wilderness.

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Nagoya City Aichi Park


Aichi prefecture is the dynamic capital of Japanese industrialization.

Tokyo Skyline Japan Tokyo Tower


From glittering skyscrapers to rickety ramen shacks, Tokyo is a dazzling mix of the ultra modern and traditional.

Tap into Tokyo’s Manga and Anime Scene

Tokyo, Japan - August 1, 2015: Crowds pass below colorful signs in Akihabara. The well known electronics district specializes in the sales of video games, anime, manga, and computer goods.


Ah, Akihabara. Where to even begin? Electric town. Cool Japan. Anime Center. Themed cafes. The list is...

Manhole cover in Ghibli museum, Tokyo-Japan.

Ghibli Museum

A whimsical wonderland that is heartbreakingly charming.