Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan : Hokkaido

Hokkaido, the great landmass in the north of Japan, boasts sweeping natural landscapes and a variety of adventures and activities. It is also the first region in Japan where you can enjoy autumn leaves in the fall, that in some regions would reach their full splendor as early as September. See WAttention’s list of fall foliage destinations starting from the earliest to the latest spots to reach their peak colors.



1Mount Daisetsu (Kogen Onsen) 大雪山 (高原温泉) in Kamikawa

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First colors: Beginning of September
Color Peak: Middle of September until the end of September
Access: 30min bus ride from Kamikawa Station (JR Sekihoku Main Line) until Sounkyo Onsen, from there it is a 40min taxi ride until Kogen Onsen
Address: Sounkyo Onsen – Daisetsuzan Kokuritsu Koen, Kamikawa-cho, Hokkaido
Ranking: ★★★★☆
tripadvisor.com


2Mount Daisetsu (Kurodake) 大雪山 (黒岳) in Kamikawa

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First colors: Beginning of September
Color Peak: Middle of September until the end of September
Access: 30min bus ride from Kamikawa Station (JR Sekihoku Main Line) until Sounkyo Onsen, from there you can take the ropeway until the 5th station (7min), or the 7th station by lift from station 5 (15min). From station 7 to the top it is a 1,5hour climb.
Address: Sounkyo Onsen – Daisetsuzan Kokuritsu Koen, Kamikawa-cho, Hokkaido
Ranking: ★★★☆☆
tripadvisor.com

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan : Hokkaido


3Akan (阿寒) in Kushiro

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First colors: Middle of September
Color Peak: End of September until the beginning of October
Recommended Spots: The autumn colors and the waterfall seen from Takimi Bridge
Event: Marimo Festival
Date: October 8th (Saturday) ~ 10th (Monday); October 8th 10:30am~/October 9th 1pm~/October 10th 10am~
Admission: free
Details: Traditional event of the Ainu (ethnic group of Hokkaido) regarding Marimo, a round green alga which grows in lake Akan. A torch walk and the Marimo dance parade are further highlights of the Festival.
Access: 2hour bus ride from Kushiro Station (JR Nemuro Main Line) until Akan Kohan (10min walk)
Address: Akanko Onsen – Akan National Park , Akan-cho, Kushiro-shi, 085-0467 Hokkaido
Ranking: ★★★★☆
www.lake-akan.com


4Shikaribetsu lake shore (然別湖畔) in Kato – Shikaoi

A photo posted by Navi Chang (@navichang) on

A photo posted by まーどぅん (@bichanku) on

First colors: End of September
Color Peak: End of September until the middle of October
Access: 1h40min bus ride from Obihiro Station (JR Nemuro Main Line) until Shikaribetsuko
Address: Daisetsuzan National Park – Shikaribetsu kohan, Kato-cho, Hokkaido 
Ranking: ★★★☆☆
tripadvisor.com


5Eniwa Valley (恵庭渓谷) in Eniwa

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First colors: Beginning of October
Color Peak: Middle of October
Recommended Spots: three step waterfall, Rarumanai waterfall, Hakusen waterfall (shop available)
Access: A 40min taxi ride from Eniwa Station (JR Chitose Line)
Address: Banjiri, Eniwa-shi, 061-1422 Hokkaido
Ranking: ★★★☆☆
tripadvisor.com


6Onneto in Ashoro

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First colors: End of September
Color Peak: Beginning of October
Recommended Spots: viewing platform
Event: 2016 Onneto Monogatari
Date: September 25th (Sunday)
Details: Mini live concert, Onneto Photo contest
Access: 2hour taxi ride from Obihiro Station (JR Nemuro Main Line)
Address: Moashoro, Ashoro-cho, Ashoro-gun, 089-3964 Hokkaido
Ranking: ★★★☆☆
www.lake-akan.com

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan : Hokkaido


7Shiretokogo Lake (知床五湖) in Shari

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First colors: End of September
Color Peak: Beginning of October until the middle of October
Opening hours: End of April until the end of November; 7:30am – 6pm
Access: 1 hour 15 min bus ride from Shiretoko-Shari Station (JR Senmo Main Line) until Shiretokogo Lake
Address: Shiretoko National Park, Shari-gun, Shari-cho, 099-4356 Hokkaido
Ranking: ★★★★☆
www.env.go.jp


8Sandandaki Park (三段滝公園) in Ashibetsu

A photo posted by 岡篤士 (@atsushioka) on

A photo posted by 岡篤士 (@atsushioka) on

First colors: Beginning of October
Color Peak: Beginning of October until middle of October
Access: 25min taxi ride from Ashibetsu Street
Address: Ashibetsu, Ashibetsu-shi, 075-0000 Hokkaido
Ranking: ★★★☆☆
tripadvisor.com


9Jozankei (Hoheikyo Dam) (定山渓 (豊平峡ダム)) in Sapporo

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First colors: End of September
Color Peak: Beginning of October until the middle of October
Recommended Spot: the view from the dam side; the view from the viewing platform
Access: Jotetsu Bus from JR Sapporo Station or Makomanai Station (Metro – Nanboku Line) to Jozankei Yunomachi, from there you can take the free Hoheikyo shuttle bus until Hoheikyo dam parking area
Address: Jozankei, Minami-ku, Sapporo-shi, 061-2301 Hokkaido
Ranking: ★★★★☆
www.houheikyou.jp


10Lake Shikotsu – Lake Shikotsu Onsen (支笏湖 (支笏湖温泉)) in Chitose

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First colors: End of September
Color Peak: Beginning of October until the end of October
Recommended Spots: Mount Eniwa, Mount Fuppushi, Mount Tarumae, Mount Monbetsu
Event: Lake Shikotsu Autumn Color Festival
Date: October 9th (Sunday), 10am – 3pm
Details: Sale of seasonal vegetables, performance from the drum and fife band of the local primary school, food stands. The near Onsen will open its door for half the price, so you can relax in the hot tubs after the lively festival.
Access: 54 min bus ride from Shinchitose Kuko Station (JR Chitose Line); 44min bus ride from Chitose Station (JR Chitose Line)
Address: Kohan Enchi – Shikotsuko Onsen, Chitose-shi, 066-0281 Hokkaido
Ranking: ★★★☆☆
www.shikotsuko.com

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan : Hokkaido


11Sounkyo (Falling star・milky way waterfall) (層雲峡 (流星・銀河の滝 )) in Kamikawa

©社団法人層雲峡観光協会
©社団法人層雲峡観光協会
First colors: Beginning of October
Color Peak: Middle of October
Access: 30min bus ride from Kamikawa Station (JR Sekihoku Main Line) until Sounkyo Onsen, from there it is a 3km walk.
Address: Sounkyo, Kamikawa-cho, Kamikawa-gun, 078-1701Hokkaido Prefecture
Ranking: ★★★★☆
www.sounkyo.net


12Taki no Ue Park (滝の上公園) in Yubari – Yuni

A photo posted by @mtk_bchan on

First colors: Beginning of October
Color Peak: Middle of October
Recommended Spot: Chidori Bridge, Taki Rope Bridge
Access: 3min walk from Taki no Ue Station (JR Sekisho Line)
Address: Takinoue 5, Yubari-shi, 068-0756 Hokkaido
Ranking: ★★★★☆
takinoue.com


13Katsurazawa lake shore (桂沢湖畔) in Mikasa

A photo posted by Tomomi.K (@tomollie33) on

First colors: Middle of October
Color Peak: Middle of October
Event: Mikasa Katsurazawa Autumn Color Festival
Date: October 16th (Sunday), 10am – 4pm
Admission: free
Details: Fishing competition, live performances, game competition, autumn flavor tasting, etc.
Access: 50min bus ride from Iwamizawa Station (JR Hakodate Main Line, Muroran Main Line) to the terminal stop Ikushunbetsu, from there it is a 10min taxi ride
Address: Katsurazawa, Mikasa-shi, 068-2101 Hokkaido
Ranking: ★★★★☆
city.mikasa.hokkaido.jp


14Iwanai Senkyo (岩内仙峡) in Obihiro

First colors: Beginning of October
Color Peak: Middle of October
Event: Iwanai Senkyo Momiji Festival
Date: October 9th (Sunday), 10am – 2:30pm; In case of rain, the event takes place in the Kawanishi Nogyosha Kenshu Center (Nishi 2 sen 59-48, Kawanishi-cho, Obihiro-shi, 089-1182 Hokkaido)
Admission: free
Details: Live performances, vegetable weight guessing, auction of local harvested vegetables, Yosakoi Soran dance performance, Karaoke contest, food stands selling local dishes, pony riding area, etc.
Access: 55min Taxi ride from Obihiro Station (JR Nemuro Main Line)
Address: Iwanai Senkyo, Iwanai-cho, Obihiro-shi, 080-2121 Hokkaido
Ranking: ★★★☆☆
visit-tokachi.jp

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan : Hokkaido


15Takino Suzuran Hillside National Government Park (国営滝野すずらん丘陵公園) in Sapporo

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First colors: Beginning of October
Color Peak: Middle of October until the end of October
Opening hours: 9am – 5pm (autumn)
Admission fee: 410yen (adults), 80yen (children)
Recommended Spots: Waterfall area, Takino Forest (west and east area)
Event: Special Tour – Let´s see autumn colors!
Date: October 22nd (Saturday), 10am – 12:30pm
Admission: free
Details: A guide will show you the recommended places inside the park.
Meeting Place: Mori no Koryukan
Reservation: Tel 011-594-2222
Access: 35min bus ride from Makomanai Station (Metro Nanboku Line) with the Chuo Bus Takino Line until Takino Suzuran Koen; 1,75hour bus ride from Sapporo Terminal with the Chuo Bus Takino Line
Address: Takino 247, Minami-ku, Sapporo-shi, 005-0862 Hokkaido
Ranking: ★★★☆☆
welcome.city.sapporo.jp


16Maruyama Park (円山公園) in Sapporo

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First colors: Beginning of October
Color Peak: Middle of October until the end of October
Recommended Spots: near the playground area, Maruyama riverside
Access: 5min walk from Maruyama Koen Station (Tozai Line (Metro))
Address: Miyagaoka 3, Chuo-ku, Sapporo-shi, 064-0959 Hokkaido
Ranking: ★★★★☆
welcome.city.sapporo.jp


17Shinnoboribetsu Long Bridge (新登別大橋) in Noboribetsu

First colors: End of September
Color Peak: Middle of October until the end of October
Access: 15min taxi ride from Noboribetsu Station (JR Muroran Main Line)
Address: Kaminoboribetsu-cho, Noboribetsu-shi, 059-0552 Hokkaido
Ranking: ★★★★☆
www.noboribetsu-spa.jp


18Onuma (Onuma Park, Tsukimi Bridge, Onuma lake shore) 大沼 (大沼公園、月見橋、大沼湖畔) in Kameda – Nanae

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First colors: Middle of October
Color Peak: End of October
Access: 3min walk from Onuma Koen Station (JR Hakodate Main Line)
Address: Onuma Kokutei Koen, Onuma-cho 1023-1, Nanae-cho, Kameda-gun, 041-1354 Hokkaido
Ranking: ★★★★☆
onumakouen.com

Hokkaido: Indulge in the Paradise of Gourmet Food

Hokkaido Food (4)

Known as the Kitchen of the North, Sapporo boasts an endless list of delicious local specialties from ramen and fresh sea food to all sorts of sweets and confectionery. Plan your perfect Hokkaido holiday around gourmet food and get some souvenirs for your loved ones back home.

Hokkaido Food (3)

Miso ramen
First developed in Sapporo, miso (soybean paste) ramen usually features plenty of hot pork lard to keep your body warm during Hokkaido’s harsh winter. Typically bean sprouts are added to balance the robust and heavy flavor of the soup. If you want to eat like a local, order extra toppings of corn and butter.

Where to eat?
Ramen Sumire
URL: http://www.sumireya.com/ (Japanese only)

 Hokkaido Food (1)

Soup curry
This is a famous local dish that consists of rice and curry-flavored soup with lots of spices and ingredients such as vegetables, seafood, and tender chicken thighs. You can find many restaurants serving this dish around Sapporo, each with its own recipe. Besides eating in, you may as well bring home a microwavable meal of soup curry as a souvenir.

Hokkaido Food (5)

Where to eat?
Soup Curry Cocoro
URL: http://www.cocoro-soupcurry.com/english/index.html

Hokkaido Food (2)

Crabs and prawns
Seafood lovers will know that Hokkaido is a land of gourmet delicacies, especially when it comes to seafood. There are three famous crabs in Hokkaido, the King Crab, the Snow Crab, and the Horsehair Crab. The best way to try everything at one sitting is to head for a sumptuous crab buffet that offers not only unlimited crabs but also fresh prawns prepared in various styles such as sushi and deep-fried tempura.

Where to eat?
Ebikani Gassen
URL: http://www.ebikani.co.jp/ (Japanese only)

Hokkaido Food (7)

Seafood rice bowl
Donburi Chaya is a seafood donburi (rice bowl) specialty store serving delicious seafood at incredibly low prices in Sapporo. Fresh ingredients are brought in from Nijo Fish Market, which explains why its seafood is so delicious and affordable. Donburi Chaya opens early, at 7:30 a.m., and during lunchtime it’s always packed with locals and tourists. Since it’s located right inside Nijo Fish Market, you can blend in with the lively atmosphere while enjoying a delicious meal!

Hokkaido Food (6)

Where to eat?
Donburi Chaya
URL: http://www.donburi.jp/ (Japanese only)

Scenic Food Spots: Shiretoko Kaigan Shokudo

Good food in a picturesque place is one of the best luxuries in life and Shiretoko Kaigan Shokudou in Shari, Hokkaido gives you exactly that. Looking out to the Okhotsk sea, indulge in awe-inspiring ocean and sunset views all summer long.

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Opened in July, 2015, this restaurant offers seafood freshly caught off the coast of Utoro as well as rice, vegetables and other ingredients from Hokkaido.

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Have some fresh seafood on top of soft fluffy white rice.

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Or try delicious Hokkaido beef, crab or shellfish slow-grilled over hot charcoal in rustic robatayaki style.

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If you want something more exotic, they also have “kumadon” (bear meat rice bowl) on the menu.

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This restaurant is open every day until Oct. 17, 2016. They plan to open again during ice floe season (end of January – February).

Information

Shiretoko Kaigan Shokudou
Address: 361 Utorohigashi, Shari, Shari District Hokkaido
Hours: Lunch 11:30am-2:30pm Dinner 6pm-9pm
Access: http://shiretoko-hotel.jp/meal/ (Japanese)

Lake Toya Hot Spring – The Lake View Toya Nonokaze Resort

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Private-use hot springs: Yes
Rooms with private view spa: Yes

With views of Nakajima Island and Mt. Yotei (also known as Hokkaido’s Mt. Fuji) across the serene lake waters, and active volcano Mt. Usu in the south, Lake Toya is perhaps the most scenic spa resort in Hokkaido. Enjoy the balance of tradition and convenience with their wide selection of Japanese-Western style rooms, all of which face the lake, and some of which include a private view spa. Along with the top floor public spas, featuring chloride spring, sulfate spring, sodium bicarbonate saline spring, the private onsens are perfect for catching the evening fireworks shows on the lake between April and November.

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Access:
Take the JR Rapid Airport Train from New Chitose Airport to Minami Chitose, then take the JR Limited Express from Minami Chitose to JR Toya Station. A 15-min. taxi ride from the station.

WEB:
http://en.nonokaze-resort.com/

Noboribetsu Hot Spring – Takinoya

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Private-use hot springs: No
Rooms with open-air baths: Yes

Surrounded by the lush greenery of Shikotsu-Toya National Park in southwestern Hokkaido, Noboribetsu is heralded as one of the world’s most extraordinary hot spring resorts, boasting nine types of water. With four of these—salt/saline spring, iron-rich ferruginous spring, radium spring, and sulphur spring—sourced from the nearby Jigokudani Valley, Takinoya is an ideal hide away for physical healing. The three onsens here come with a variety of beautiful backdrops, including rich forestry and a beautifully manicured Japanese garden. Though lively in the spring and summer, winter also makes for a great quiet escape, under the gentle cover of snowfall.

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Access:
Take the JR Limited Express from New Chitose Airport to JR Noboribetsu Station. A 10-min. taxi ride from the station.

WEB:
http://takinoya.co.jp/ (Japanese)

Sapporo Snow Festival

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Sapporo Yuki Matsuri, Snow Festival in Sapporo, Hokkaido

The festival, the biggest in scale of this kind, started in 1950, and has become one of the most popular events in winter for now. Approximately 230 snow creations and ice sculptures are exhibited at three sites, mainly at the Odori Site with enormous snow creations and many attractions, at the Susukino Site with fantastic ice sculptures, and at the Tsu-dome Site with the huge playground where children and adults can play in snow. http://www.snowfes.com/english/index.html

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Access:
(1) The JR Hakodate Honsen Line to Sapporo Sta.
(2) About 50 min. by bus from Shin-Chitose Airport to Sapporo Eki-mae Bus Terminal.

Abashiri Ice Breaker Cruise

Abashiri is a major tourist destination in winter. Its shores by the Okhotsk sea are the southernmost point where the ocean freezes.

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icebreaker cruiseOne of the most popular attraction is the Drift Ice Sightseeing Icebreaking Ship Aurora that takes passengers out amid the outstanding whiteness of the ice. Departing from Abashiri Port, a highlight of the trip is when blocks of ice strike the bottom of the boat and cause its entire body to shake as the Aurora ship proceeds at a constant speed of 3 knots. But don’t worry! The boat is very safe and sturdy, and the sailing is overall very smooth.

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Be astounded by the sight of drift ice stretching across the ocean horizon and see the ice shift and churn while being greeted by sea birds and seals. Recommended for all nature and scenery lovers.

Seagull resting on the ice
Seagull resting on the ice
Seagull (Umineko)
Seagull (Umineko)
Black-tailed gull (Kamome)
Black-tailed gull (Kamome)

The 491-ton, 3,000-horsepower ship usually operates from late January to March. Hope for fine weather as the ships do not sail when the weather is bad.

[ Information ]
Address: Minami 3, Higashi 4-5-1, Abashiri city, Hokkaido
Fare: 3,300yen (Booking required)
Phone: 0152-43-6000
Web: ms-aurora.com/abashiri/en/

 

Furano Ski Area

Blessed with the lightest and driest snow in Hokkaido, as well as great view of the Daisetsuzan Mountains, the Furano Ski Area attracts all levels of skiers in winter.
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Situated in the center of Hokkaido, this area benefits from Siberian storm systems that pass over the Sea of Japan and dump powdery snow. Even though Furano gets relatively fewer snow than other ski areas in Hokkaido, it gets more days with fine weather and it still gets knee-deep and the occasional neck-deep snow in some areas.
The Furano Ski area even hosted the International Ski Federation Downhill World Cup 10 times. While Japanese top skiers choose this area as training base due to the great conditions, about 80% of areas are rated beginner or intermediate.


The resorts and ski schools there are also quite accommodating for families, providing child care and ski lessons for children in English. Furano is made up with two zones, the Kitanomine zone and the Furano zone with various accommodation options. Aside from skiing and snowboarding, you can also try snowmobiling and backcountry skiing.

Read also: Top 3 Hokkaido Resorts


[ Information ]
By train:
From Chitose airport or Sapporo, Furano can be accessed by JR train via Takikawa Station which takes approximately 2 hours. JR runs a “Lavender Express” from Sapporo Station to Furano Station too. Take taxi from Furano Station to the ski area which will take 5-10 min.

By bus:
Take Chuo express Bus from a bus terminal in the basement of Sapporo Station to Downtown Furano. Buses run hourly from 8AM to 7PM. (3 hrs., 2,260 yen one way). There are direct buses from the New Chitose Airport to the Furano resort (3 hrs., booking required), too.

Open: from Nov. 26, 2016 to May 7, 2016 (Dates are subjects to change)
Lift ticket: Adult 4,000 yen (From Nov. 28 to Dec.11 and Mar. 22 to May 5), Adult 5,200 yen (From Dec.12 to Mar. 21), Senior 3,500 yen (From Nov. 28 to Dec.11 and Mar. 22 to May 5), Senior 4,700 yen (From Dec.12 to Mar. 21)

[ Address ]
18-6 Kitanominecho, Furano-shi, Hokkaido

Niseko Ski Resorts

Being called as the “St. Moritz of the Orient”, Niseko has about 100 years of history as a ski town. The perfect powder snow and its long ski season which lasts until early May have lured skiers every winter. From late 1960s, commercial ski areas such as Niseko Moiwa, Niseko Annupuri and Niseko Higashiyama were opened one after another. The resort is internationally renowned while the number of Australian tourists has been increasing these years. For people who want to try all the slopes, Niseko all mountain pass is recommended.

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Niseko Mt. Resort Grand Hirafu
Niseko Mt. Resort Grand Hirafu is the biggest ski resort in Niseko and stretches from Niseko Annupuri’s summit (elevation 1,308.5 m) to its base. Foreign skiers are increasing especially in this area. English speaking instructors provide ski and snowboard lessons to all level of skiers.
Address: 85 Niseko, Niseko-cho, Abuta-gun
Phone: 0136-58-2021
Web: www.grand-hirafu.jp/winter/en/

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Niseko Village Ski Resort
Niseko Village Ski Resort is a world-class ski area which combines adventure and nature with superb facilities and amenities with English speaking staff available. It has a long 5,000-meter slope, and is rather suitable for intermediate or advanced skiers.
Address: Higashiyama Onsen, Niseko Cho, Abuta Gun
Phone: 0136-44-2211
Web: www.niseko-village.com/english/winter/

Niseko Annupuri International Ski Area
Located in the quasi-national park land, the Niseko Annupuri International Ski Area is family-oriented and attracts skiing beginners. Experienced skier can also enjoy its runs including a 565 meter champion course and 250 meter challenge course.
Address: Higashiyama Onsen, Niseko Cho, Abuta Gun
Phone: 0136-44-2211
Web: http://annupuri.info/winter/english/
niseko21
[ Transportation]
By train: Take Ishikari Liner from Sapporo to Otaru, transfer to Niseko. (90min. 2,100 yen). From Dec. to Feb., “Niseko Express” goes between Sapporo and Niseko (Reservation required).

Take taxi or bus from Niseko station to all ski areas for 15 min. By bus: Take ski bus (Chuo or Dounan) to Niseko ski area from Sapporo station. (3 hr. – 3hr. 45min. 2,300 yen. Reservation required)

By car: 2 hr. drive from Sapporo to Niseko (via Route 230).

[ Address ]

204 Yamada, Kutchan-chō, Abuta-gun, Hokkaidō 044-0081

Ski in Japan: Top 3 Hokkaido Resorts

While crisp gold and red leaves are still falling across Tokyo, it won’t be long until Japan’s peaks are powdered with fluffy white snow. And with the ski season starting as early as mid-November in Hokkaido, it’s not too early to plan for your winter wonderland trip. In this series, we bring you the hottest resorts for the coolest ski trips, complete with onsens and scenery to accompany your downhill thrills. 

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Top 3 Hokkaido Resorts

Snow and Hokkaido are a natural pair, where feather-light powder falls throughout nearly half the year, and its famed Sapporo Snow Festival crowns the season from Feb. 5-11. So for the full Japanese winter experience, start here on its most northern island, where blankets of white wonder await!

Niseko United

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Number of courses: 60
English instructor: Advanced booking recommended
Pick up an All-Mountain Pass for access to all four resorts on Mt. Nikes Annupuri. With a total of 48km of groomed slopes and a course as long as 5.6km, this 4-in-1 spot is great for longer stays.

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Address: Niseko Annupuri: Aza Niseko 485, Niseko-cho, Abuta-gun
Access: Take the Niseko United Shuttle Bus to all our resorts from Kutchen Station.
Web: http://www.niseko.ne.jp/en

Hoshino Resort Tomamu

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English instructor: Advanced booking recommended
Number of courses: 25
Just over an hour away by train from Sapporo’s New Chitose Airport, this resort comes with an open air hot bath facing the lush forests of Tomamu. Give ice skating a go as well as the Ice Village and enjoy its various ice sculptures.

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Address: Naka-Tomamu, Shimukappu-mura, Yuufutsu-gun
Access: Take the shuttle bus from Tomamu Station.
Web: http://www.snowtomamu.jp/winter/en

Furano Ski Resort

富良野②

English instructor: Advanced booking recommended
Number of courses: 23
Known for its gorgeous rural landscapes and clear blue skies in the winter, you will not find a more picturesque skiing backdrop than the Furano Valley. After skiing, grab a drink at a snow dome ice bar.

富良野③

Address: Nakagoryo, Furano-shi
Access: Take a taxi from JR Furano Station or the direct shuttle bus from New Chitose Airport.
Web: http://www.princehotels.com/en/ski/furano/index.html

 

Hokkaido By Rail and Car: Day 3 – Kamikawa, Sounkyo

Hokkaido, Japan’s second largest island, is also referred to as the “The Big Land in the North” by the locals. Blessed with picturesque nature and bounty from the sea and land, it is a favorite getaway destination for the Japanese and tourists alike. WAttention flew in to Sapporo and did a 5D4N rail and rental car tour through the big land. Follow our trip and train details here!  

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L’EX Okhotsk No.2

Day 3:
7:21 Board the L’EX Okhotsk from Kamikawa Station
9:41 Arrive Kamikawa Station

BEAR PARK AND ICE PAVILION

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Feed the bears and experience minus 21 degrees all in one venue!

Bears roam freely on some mountains in Hokkaido, but you don’t have to head to the deep forests to see one. In fact, you can see 12 huge bears at the Asahikawa Bear Park at the Daisetsu Mori-no-Garden and watch how they try to charm you for cookies (provided by the park). After that, find out why the bears decide to hibernate in the Hokkaido winters by entering the Ice Pavilion, literally the coolest entertainment place in Japan with temperatures going below minus degrees Celsius.
Around 15 minutes by car from the station.

LUNCH @ FRATELLO DI MIKUNI

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Set lunch at Mikuni, a fine dining restaurant by Mikuni Kiyomi

Within walking distance from the Daisetsu Mori-no-Garden, is a fine dining restaurant with a view of the Daisetsuzan Mountain Valley, run by renowned chef, Mikuni Kiyomi, who is also known as the Food Ambassador of Hokkaido.  Enjoy the tastiest food of the season here at prices that won’t break the bank!

KURODAKE ROPEWAY 

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Autumn foliage from the ropeway

Mt. Kurodake is the highest peak in the Daisetsuzan National Park at 1,984m and is easily accessible by ropeway which leads to the 5th Station halfway up to the peak. From there, one can take a chairlift further up to the 7th Station. The view of the carpet of autumn foliage on the dramatic mountain ranges is simply stunning.
Around 30 minutes by car from Fratello Di Mikuni.

GINGA WATERFALL AND RYUSEI WATERFALL

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Two minutes’ drive from the ropeway are two waterfalls around 80m high, with water that comes from melted mountain snow. Ginga (silver river)  is meant to be a “female” waterfall for the way it falls in several strands and Ryusei (meteor) is thought to be a “male” waterfall for its powerful straight stream.

SOUNKYO ONSEN

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What better way to end the day than to soak in an outdoor hot spring, with autumn foliage and the background soundtrack of the gushing river?

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And the onsen experience of course wouldn’t be complete without a kaiseki meal featuring foods of the season such as river fish!

DAY 4 brings us to Furano!

Here’s the rest of the series:
Hokkaido By Rail & Car: Day 1,2 – Sapporo, Lake Toyako
Hokkaido By Rail and Car Day 4: Biei and Furano
Hokkaido By Rail and Car Day 5 : Feasting at Furano

Hokkaido By Rail & Car: Day 1,2 – Sapporo, Lake Toyako –

Hokkaido, Japan’s second largest island, is also referred to as the “The Big Land in the North” by the locals. Blessed with picturesque nature and bounty from the sea and land, it is a favorite getaway destination for the Japanese and tourists alike. WAttention flew in to Sapporo and did a 5D4N rail and rental car tour through the big land. Follow our trip and train details here!  

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L’EX Hokuto No.12

Day 1:
14:48  Board Rapid Airport No. 147, alight at Minami Shin Chitose at 14:51
15:05  Board L’EX Hokuto No.12
16:25 Arrive Lake Toya Station
Rent a car from the station to Toyako Onsen, 15 mins by car

LAKE TOYA ONSEN

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View of Lake Toya from Toya Manseikaku Hotel. In the distance is Mt Yotei.

Lake Toya is one of the biggest lakes in Japan and is a popular onsen resort. It offers views of Mt Yotei, which is fondly known as Hokkaido’s Mt. Fuji for its symmetry.

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View of the fireworks from a cruiseship

Fireworks are held every night on the lake in front of the various hotels lining the lake. In fact, Lake Toya has the longest running fireworks festival, running from April to October.

Mt Usu Ropeway

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View from Mt Usu

Just a 15-min car ride from Lake Toya is the 733-m high Mt. Usu, one of the most active volcanoes in Japan. It erupted four times in the past century, and Mt Usu is a result of one of the eruptions. The G8 Summit was held near here in 2008.

DRIVE FROM LAKE TOYA TO NISEKO

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Lunch at Niseko

 

The ski resort of Niseko is a scenic 2 hour’s drive from Lake Toya, and we had lunch at Niseko Prativo, a semi-buffet style restaurant that boasts a salad bar serving vegetables grown in Hokkaido, and milk from the next-door award-winning dairy farm. From the restaurant you can get a view of Mt Yotei as well. The milk pudding, cheesecake and yogurt drink here were also divine! Not to mention the cheese tarts at Takahashi’s Dairy Farm next door.

SEGWAY

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Segway tour

Now, what better way to work off those lunch calories than to hop on a segway? WAttention explored the surrounding area on these cool segways.

 

After that, we drove back to Sapporo for the night.

Stay tuned for Day 3: Autumn leaves at Sounkyo Onsen, minus 21 degrees Celsius Ice Pavilion, and more!

Here’s the rest of the series:
Hokkaido By Rail and Car: Day 3 – Kamikawa, Sounkyo
Hokkaido By Rail and Car Day 4: Biei and Furano
Hokkaido By Rail and Car Day 5 : Feasting at Furano

 

Bite Into Japan’s Best Burgers At Hakodate’s Lucky Pierrot

 

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Japan’s best local buns: Lucky Pierrot’s Chinese Chicken Burger, 390 yen

Hakodate in Hokkaido may be famous for its fresh seafood and salt-based ramen but it also boasts what has been voted as Japan’s “Best Local Burger” in  a Nikkei survey. And 1.8 million customers a year can’t be wrong.

In fact, their 17 stores are almost always packed, with locals and tourists alike queuing for a taste of what can only be found in Hakodate.

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Funky facades are Lucky Pierrot’s Trademark

This local burger chain started in 1987, and soon became a hit for their Chinese Chicken Burger (featured in the photo above), which consists of juicy fried chicken with a hint of ginger and drizzled with a sweet and slightly spicy sauce.

Since then, their menu has expanded to include other originals such as:

Squid Burger, as Hakodate is famous for its squid

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The Foot-Long Burger, limited to 20 a day:

 

 

 

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Scallop Burger, a result of a customer contest:
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Genghis Khan Burger, the taste of Hokkaido:

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Hakodate Snow Burger:

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As well as curries…

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Pasta…

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And what some claim to be Hokkaido’s bests Omurice, or omelette rice:

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All featuring the much-loved Chinese Chicken.

 

Each restaurant interior is distinct and overflowing with as much character as the quirky storefront murals, and each store has a slightly different menu.

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Soul food for the locals.

 

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The first Lucky Pierrot store, located near the Hakodate Bay Area.
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A newer store near the Hakodate Bay Area.
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The Chinese Chicken Burger looks set to take the top seat for a long time.

Lucky Pierrot is such an institution that it even has its own array of souvenirs for tourists to take home, from canned sodas, to chips and of course, t-shirts.

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One reason for the queue is that the food here is prepared upon order, using fresh ingredients. To avoid waiting, one is advised to call beforehand to place your order and come to pick it up. Don’t bother testing your luck, as there’s almost always a queue!

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URL: http://luckypierrot.jp/ (Japanese only)

 

 

Picturesque Japan: Unkai Terrace

Heaven in Hokkaido

Tokyo’s towering skyscrapers – not to forget about the Tokyo Skytree – might take you up high in the sky, but Hokkaido’s nature takes you above the clouds. A 13 minute gondola ride in Tomamu goes up to an altitude of 1,088 meters, which is just high enough to surpass the clouds.

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The Unkai Terrace is located near the endpoint of this gondola, and trust me, you will understand why this terrace was named Unkai, or “sea of clouds”.

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Tomamu has been a popular ski resort since the early eighties. However, the amazing summer view remained a secret only known by the gondola staff until a summer service started in 2005.

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Tomamu in summer and winter

From the Unkai Terrace, you can see one of Hokkaido’s most stunning views, but only if it’s your day. The endless sea of rolling clouds that conjure the illusion of heaven can only be seen if the right amount of clouds appear at the right time of the day.

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As Tomamu is not easy to reach and the gondola and terrace are only open from 4:30 am to 8 am and from 11 am to 2 pm, staying at Hoshino Resort is highly recommended.
Hoshino Resort Tomamu consists of The Tower and Risonare Tomamu, and both feel just as close to heaven as the Unkai Terrace itself!

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If you are in luck and get to see this phenomenon of heaven in Hokkaido, sitting down on the terrace with an “Unkai Coffee” while gazing at the clouds like a lookout staring at the sea from a crow’s nest might very well become the highlight of your trip to Hokkaido, or even to Japan in general!

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Next in this series: Picturesque Japan: The Oki Islands

Spot information

Name: Unkai Terrace
Address: Nakatomamu, Shimukappu-mura Yufutsu-gun, Hokkaido
Access: From Tomamu Station (JR Hokkaido), call for a pickup bus with the telephone on platform 2 that takes you to the resorts.
Period: From May 16 to October 13 (check the website for time schedules)
Gondola Round Trip Fares: 1,900 yen (adults) 1,200 yen (children)
Official Information: http://www.snowtomamu.jp/unkai_terrace/index_en.html

Speedy Sapporo Sightseeing (5): The Green Trail

Hokkaido may be Japan’s largest prefecture but it’s largest city – and capital – Sapporo is easy to get about by foot or public transport. In this 5-part series, WAttention brings you some themed strolls through Sapporo, all within 30-minutes on foot from the train station if all you have to spare is, literally, a couple of hours. 

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Just three blocks from the North Exit of Sapporo Station is the Hokkaido University, a sprawling campus with European-style architecture, a stream running through it and willow trees which will make you forget that you are in Japan.

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During the autumn, it is famous for its 380 m stretch of 70 golden gingko trees. Its poplar avenue is also a popular spot that makes for a pleasant walk.

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Inset: The signature poplar trees of Hokkaido University.

 

You will find both tourists and locals enjoying the picturesque greenery here.

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After your stroll, you can stop by the cafe and souvenir shop by the entrance and have a cuppa under the dappled sunlight terrace.

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The interior of the campus cafe

For some more green therapy, head back to the station and exit from the South this time towards the Old Government Building, also three blocks done the road.

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There is a lovely garden and pond here that you wouldn’t imagine to be in the middle of Sapporo city.

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Here you will also find flowers of the season that makes for a great photo spot.

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This marks the final post of our Speedy Sapporo Sightseeing series. 

 

Speedy Sapporo Sightseeing (3): The Seafood Lovers’ Trail

Hokkaido may be Japan’s largest prefecture but it’s largest city – and capital – Sapporo is easy to get about by foot or public transport. In this 5-part series, WAttention brings you some themed strolls through Sapporo, all within 30-minutes on foot from the train station if all you have to spare is, literally, a couple of hours. 

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One can’t leave Sapporo without having feasted on at least one seafood bowl overflowing with slices of freshly-caught and sliced raw fish and a mountain of glistening ikura and uni.

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Sample Hokkaido’s seasonal crabs at the Nijo Fish Market, which is around 10 blocks down the road from Sapporo Station’s South Exit, or an easy 20-minute stroll – with some time to stop and smell the flowers at Odori Park.

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This market is said to have begun when fishermen from Ishikari Bay first started selling their catch there over a century ago during the early Meiji Period.

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Today, due to its central location, it is popular with tourists and locals alike for seafood and souvenirs, somewhat like the Tsukiji outer market but with a much wider variety of crabs, sea urchins and ikura.

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Reward your walk here with a seafood bowl or a freshly roasted sea urchin, and buy some frozen seafood here or do that on your way back to the station at Sato Suisan Honten, which is right in front of the Sapporo Station – and where you will see a lot of local housewives sampling the latest offerings.

 

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Here, you can try their ikura in various original flavours – salt or spicy mentai, instead of just the usual shoyu, as well as all their products – including salmon sausages, seafood pate, roasted fish, etc. They’ll help you ice-pack your seafood souvenirs to last your journey, or if you can’t wait that long, buy a handmade onigiri here or bento for the train or plane ride back!

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Next up in this series: The Beer & BBQ Trail

A Lavender lover’s wonderland

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Fragrant fields in the heart of Hokkaido

For the scents, sights, and even tastes of this beloved purple flower, escape the summer heat and head to Hokkaido’s Farm Tomita.

Two hours by train from Sapporo by the rustic Furano valley in central Hokkaido, you’ll find ten different flower gardens and fields here. Dating back over a hundred years to the Meiji Era as one of the original lavender cultivators in Japan, this farm helped put the Furano area on the map as a popular flower viewing site.   

Amongst the ten gardens and fields, the rainbow-like Irodori Field is the most eye-catching with its colorful seven-flower array. 

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The vivid contrast of lavenders, white baby’s breath, red poppies, pink garden catchflies and orange California poppies form a rainbow of flowers that flow along these rolling hills. Blooming only throughout July, with peak season towards the end of the month, you’ll definitely want to visit before these flowers fade!  

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Or for a sight of one of the oldest lavender fields of Japan, walk over to the Traditional Lavender Garden, where Tomita Farm first started. Photos from this field on Japan Railways’ photo calendar helped launch Hokkaido’s lavender farms into nationwide fame back in the 1970s.

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With the Furano valley and Tokachi Mountains in the distance, the sight of lavenders swaying in the wind along these sloping hills make for quite the panoramic view. But plan ahead, for lavender season only lasts from late June to early August, with peak season from early to mid-July.

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Fortunately however, even should you arrive before or after peak lavender season, these fields are filled with a wide variety of other flowers that bloom from spring through autumn. From Iceland poppies to bright marigolds and red roses, these flowers create a colorful carpet across the rural farm landscape.

Autumn Field

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Beyond flower gazing and photo taking, you can also delight in every possible lavender experience at Tomita’s 11 lavender-themed stores, eateries, galleries and workshops. See how Tomita Farm produces their lavender oils, soaps, and award winning perfume at the Distillery and Perfume Workshops, or even create your own lavender scented bookmark to take back home.   

Then to cool off, try their popular lavender flavored soft serve ice cream, or their original “Lamune” drink – a lavender version of the Japanese Ramune soda, only available here!

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Whether admiring its beauty, smelling its fragrance, or tasting its subtle flavor, this lavender wonderland has it all!

Read also: 3 Lovely Lavender Spots Around Tokyo

Farm Tomita
Access: A 7-min. walk from Lavender Farm Station (JR Furano Line)
Address: Kisen Kita 15, Nakafurano-cho, Sorachi-gun, Hokkaido
Tel: 0167-39-3939
Hours: 8:30am – 6pm (vary based on the season and weather)