In this article, I explain what to see in Hokkaido and what is the best time to visit this beautiful island in northern Japan.
A quick guide to Hokkaido
Best time: Winter for skiing or birdwatching, Summer for enjoying nature while enjoying the cool weather
How many days: 4 days is the minimum to see the most exciting things
Why it’s worth visiting: Hokkaido is a beautiful island surrounded by nature, full of lovely villages, wild animals, and great seafood
Where to sleep: when traveling in Asia, the best search engine is Trip.com
Have you ever had a certain idea about a country you want to visit, only to have to reconsider it once you get there? It happened to me after returning from a trip to Japan, where I never imagined I would see landscapes similar to Provence and the Tuscan countryside.
I had been to Japan before but only to Tokyo. This time, however, I went further north to the island of Hokkaido. If you are into photography, you have probably seen some photos taken in winter on this island at the Manchurian Cranes.
Hokkaido is also famous for its ski slopes, and many skiers in Asia and Oceania come all the way here for a skiing holiday. However, Hokkaido also has a lot to offer in the summer: the mild climate is ideal for cultivating many kinds of flowers (just like in Yunnan, China), and wherever you go, whether in cities or smaller towns, you’ll see a few.
The best time is around mid-July when fields of lavender and other flowers color the countryside. Of course, the lavender fields are not as numerous and large as those in Provence, but they are still worth seeing.
In addition, there are more than 60 volcanoes in Hokkaido (more than 10 percent of the world’s volcanoes), and it will be easy to see some of them as you drive along the roads of this wonderful island.
What to see in Hokkaido: Furano
If you plan to visit the flower fields of Hokkaido, you need to go to Furano and Biei, about two and a half hours from Sapporo, the capital. To get around the area, it is essential to rent a car because the best part of the trip is being able to drive in the countryside and discover the most beautiful places.
Tomita Farm, in Furano, is the most famous place, meaning there are many tourists. You will find many buses and lots of people. Remember that it is forbidden to enter the fields, and generally, people obey the rules.
The Irodori field is famous for the different kinds of flowers that grow side by side.
Besides Irodori, there are several lavender fields, and it is possible to buy typical products like in Provence.
Take half a day to walk around the fields and enjoy nature. In the early afternoon, head to the fields of Biei.
What to see in Hokkaido: Biei
The Biei fields are the ones that impressed me the most. They are less known than Furano and less crowded. In my opinion, the scenery is better, and in the distance, you can even see an active volcano (the one in the photo at the beginning of the article).
This area is one of the most beautiful in Hokkaido, in my opinion.
What else to visit in Hokkaido
If you are planning your trip to Hokkaido, remember that it is a really big island, and it is impossible to see everything quickly. I focused on the southern and central areas.
Sapporo honestly didn’t excite me too much. I enjoyed a bit more a small town called Otaru. It’s well-organized, clean, and neat in full Japanese style. One of the most famous places is the area along the canal.
Otaru may be a good choice if you want to save some money on accommodations but at the same time stay quite close to Sapporo. In addition, there are several typical restaurants in Otaru where you can try real Hokkaido cuisine.
Even if you love sushi, you will not be disappointed. There are plenty of restaurants, and the prices are affordable.
There are also several ski slopes in Otaru. The slopes are not as spectacular as those in the Alps, but skiing with a sea view doesn’t happen every day.
How to get to Hokkaido and how to get around
Some low-cost airlines operate flights from the Toyko Narita airport, such as Jet Star and Vanilla Airlines. For accommodation, try looking for deals on Booking.com or Trip.com (very good when traveling in Asia).
As I mentioned above, it’s important to rent a car. If you like trekking, remember there are Bears and black Grizzlies in some areas, so you should be careful.
Here you can find some more pictures I took in Japan. Here are my pictures of the Jacaranda trees in Yunnan, China. Here is some useful info if you want to become a digital nomad.