10 Reasons to Visit Hokkaido

Shimamui Coast in Shakotan, Hokkaido prefecture, Japan.
Shimamui Coast in Shakotan, Hokkaido prefecture, Japan. | ©663highland / Wikimedia Commons
Dave Afshar

Hokkaido has earned its reputation as one of the top destinations for travelers in Japan. Boasting unspoiled natural sights, festivals, historical landmarks, coastline villages and the freshest seafood in the country, the island is sure to impress even the most seasoned traveler. There are many reasons to visit Hokkaido, but we have narrowed it down to 10 of the best.

Hot Springs

Hokkaido is home to some of the most peaceful and luxurious onsen (hot spring) locations in Japan. Traditionally thought to be a cure for just about every type of injury or sickness, locals and visitors alike go to the onsen to rest, recharge, and relax.

Nishimuraya Hotel Shogetsutei in Kinosaki Onsen town, Toyooka, Hyogo prefecture, Japan.


Home to the 1972 Winter Olympics, the mountains here boast some of the best ski conditions in the world. It comes as no surprise that skiers and boarders from all over flock to Niseko, Kiroro, and Rusutsu resorts to experience Hokkaido’s finest powder snow.


Hokkaido’s seasonal festivals keep things lively all year round; from cultural events to beer festivals, ice sculptures to flower viewing, there is something here for every kind of traveler. If visiting during the wintertime, be sure to check out the legendary Sapporo Snow Festival, a week long event featuring massive ice sculptures, athletic competitions, food tastings, and even a beauty contest.


Hokkaido’s mountainous terrain, green landscapes, and deep valleys have earned it the reputation of being the ultimate hiking destination. Guaranteed to satisfy thrill seekers and adventurers, several mountain trails will take hikers across still active volcanoes.

Mount Tomuraushi seen from Mount Chūbetsu

Street Markets

Known as the “Kingdom of Food” among the Japanese, Hokkaido offers the freshest seafood, produce and dairy products in the country. The curbside markets in Sapporo provide locals and tourists a chance to buy locally (and at wholesale prices). There are also several sushi and sashimi restaurants stationed throughout the markets for visitors just looking for a quick lunch.

Jingisukan (Ghengis Kahn)

Any dish named after a Mongolian warlord is bound to pack a punch; diners can enjoy a hefty portion of lamb/mutton and vegetables grilled over an iron dome skillet. Legend has it that the shape of the skillet represents the helmets of Mongolian soldiers. This may or may not be true, but that doesn’t make it any less delicious.

National Parks

With its rich biodiversity, pristine lakes and rivers, and active volcanoes, Hokkaido features some of the most impressive parks and world heritage sites in Japan. Daisetsuzan, the island’s largest park, covers over 2,300 square meters, while the other five national parks offer hiking, hot springs, animal sanctuaries, and the famous Lake Shikotsu Ice Festival.

Lake Tōya view from The Windsor Hotel Toya Resort & Spa in Toyako, Hokkaido prefecture, Japan.

Local Farms

The rolling hills, lush greenery, fresh produce and dairy farms of Hokkaido are a must for travelers in need of some fresh air. Cycling enthusiasts should pay a visit to the “Road of Patchwork” in the small town of Biei, a wide field where the flowers are grown in alternating colors.

Coastal Towns

The small fishing towns and port cities that run along the coast of Hokkaido make lovely places to visit for couples, families, or anyone looking for a bit of relaxation. The town of Otaru is a quaint and comfortable place known for its local charm and romantic atmosphere.
Otaru, Hokkaido Prefecture, Japan

A view of Otaru Canal at night.

Sapporo Beer

The Sapporo Beer Factory and Beer Museum offers tourists a behind-the-scenes look into the history of brewing in Japan as well as how the beer is made. Of course, the tour ends with a 30 minute all you can drink session, so guests are advised to have lunch before taking the tour.

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