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Sashimi that’s so fresh it melts in your mouth. Fields of flowers that go on forever you need to check your hayfever meds. A sea of clouds, you think you’ve stepped into a magical alternative universe.
No, my friends… You haven’t accidentally started reading a book filled with make-believe or fairies.
This is Hokkaido.
The island of Hokkaido is Japan’s most northern prefecture. And while it’s most popular during the winter (hellooo snow!) Hokkaido truly comes alive with color during the summer months of June til August.
If you’re looking for inspiration to plan your trip to Hokkaido, I’ve got you covered!
Here’s a list of 9 things to do in Hokkaido, Japan*:
*Not gonna lie: Hokkaido is so beautiful, you might want to move there. The author of this blog post does not take responsibility for any impact this may have on your life or loved ones. That’s all Hokkaido, my friends…
1. Try Sashimi so fresh, it explodes in your mouth
Remember the melt-in-your-mouth sashimi I mentioned above? Yes, my friends, bring your dollars because, in Hokkaido, you’ll be in seafood heaven.
You might need to line up.
You might need to spend your hard-earned cash.
But for super soft, juicy sashimi? Yes, please!
Our favorite was a restaurant called Hanamaru Sapporo. There was a looooong line while we were there (turns out sushi at 2 pm is popular… But when it tastes this good, any time is sushi time)
Name: Hanamaru Sapporo
Address: Japan, 〒060-0005 Hokkaido, 札幌市中央区北５条西２丁目 ステラプレイス ６階
Opening Hours: 11 am – 10:15 pm daily
Immediately after this photo was taken, I attacked this like a woman eating her last meal
2. Get a drink at one of Sapporo’s beer gardens
After all your eating, you’ll probably be thirsty, and what better way to quench your thirst than with an ice cold beer.
No, you have not teleported your way to Germany (geez, how much did you drink?!)
You’re still in Hokkaido!
Sapporo’s beer gardens are located in the heard of Sapporo in Sapporo Oodori Park, and they genuinely do German Beer Gardens justice (except they’re Japanese!)
Grab a glass local Sapporo beer and sit down with some friends!
Name: Sapporo Oodori Beer Garden
Address: 7 Chome Odorinishi, Chuo Ward, Sapporo, Hokkaido 060-0042, Japan
Are you planning a trip to Japan soon? I’ve got a FREE Japan travel plannin’ resource library, filled with checklists, phrase guides and travel guides. Click the link below to get access:
3. Visit Mt. Hakodate to see the night view
For all my photography lovin’ friends reading this, if you’re looking for things to do in Hokkaido, add this to your list! Photographers travel from all around the world to see the view from Mt. Hakodate at night.
And gosh who can blame them – the lights here truly light up the night sky (move over, NYC!)
The best way to see this view is to take the Mt. Hakodate Ropeway up to the lookout point. You can even check out the official Mt. Hakodate Ropeway website to see a live view (in case it’s foggy!)
Name: Mt Hakodate Ropeway
Address: 19-7, Motomachi, Hakodate-shi, Hokkaido 040-0054 Japan
Opening Hours: 10 am – 10 pm (Summer + Spring), 10 am – 9 pm (Fall + Winter). Check out the up-to-date opening hours at the Mt Hakodate website.
Night time view from Mt. Hakodate
4. Visit Unkai Terrace, Hoshino Resorts Tomamu
It’s time for those magical clouds I mentioned above.
The Unkai Terrace is part of the Hoshino Resorts Tomamu, where most visitors visit due to the ski slopes.
The name “Unkai” means “sea of clouds” in Japanse, and visiting this terrace can make you feel like you’re above the clouds in some kind of magical wonderland.
This cloud filled view only appears in the mornings under special atmospheric conditions.
Name: Unkai Terrace, Hoshino Resorts Tomamu
Address: Nakatomamu, Shimukappu, Yufutsu District, Hokkaido 079-2204, Japan
Opening Hours: 5 – 8 am (but hours can vary, check the Hoshino Resorts website for most up-to-date opening hours)
5. Go sightseeing at Shakotan Peninsula
Japan isn’t just about the towering skyscrapers in Tokyo or shrines and temples of Tokyo.
No, it’s also about incredible coastal views, water so aqua blue you’d think you were in the Mediterranean (nope, still in Japan my friends!)
The best place in Hokkaido to see these views?
The Shakotan peninsula! The most scenic spots along the peninsula are Cape Shakotan, Cape Kamui, and Cape Ogon.
Just look at this magic:
Beautiful views from Cape Kamui
For more inspiration on beautiful spots to visit in Japan, check out this blog post:
6. Smell the flowers in a flower field in Furano
For my fellow hayfever suffers out there, AVERT YOUR EYES.
For everyone else, please continue as per usual…
If you’re looking for ideas of things to do in Hokkaido, you can’t miss Furano! There are two major flower farms in Furano – Farm Tomita which is more touristy (and can get pretty crazy in the summer) or Shikisai no Oka, which gets less busy.
The flower fields here stretch out forever (people even rent golf buggies to save themselves the walking!)
Furano also has seasonal lavender fields – if you want to see this, make sure you plan ahead- lavender is seasonal!
Name: Shikisai no Oka
Address: Japan, 〒071-0473 Hokkaido, Kamikawa District, Biei, Shinsei, 第３
Opening Hours: 8:30 am – 6 pm daily
Not going to lie, my hayfever suffering self still loved the flower fields at Shikisai no Oka
7. Visit the Blue Pond, Biei
I’m not sure what is with Hokkaido and aqua blue water. I mean you’d expect it on the coast, but inland?
Not so much!
Which is why the Blue Pond in Biei is such a surprise!
This is a great stop if you’re looking for things to do around Furano. If you want to visit, you’ll need to either drive or organize a trip with one of the local tour guides.
Public transport out here is practically non-existent, but the effort is well worth it!
Name: Blue Pond, Biei
Address: Shirogane, 美瑛町 Biei, Kamikawa District, Hokkaido 071-0235, Japan
Opening Hours: 24 hrs (but don’t go at night because you won’t be able to see anything!)
8. Rent a bicycle or drive around Biei and visit some of the flower fields and famous trees along the way.
From this entire list of things to do in Hokkaido, this has to be my favorite!
Why should you visit Biei?
The area is famous not only for flower fields but there are also specific trees made famous in Japanese and Korean TV commercials! (trees so famous that crowds of people are trying to photograph them!)
You can also stop by some of the adorable farms and eat fresh ice cream or cheese. We loved stopping for matcha flavored ice cream after riding our bikes around all morning (what a reward!)
One of the many fields in Biei
These trees are famous in Japan – they’re featured in local commercials!
9. Go hiking at Daisetsuzan National Park
Daisetsuzan is Hokkaido’s largest national park and is heaven for hikers and outdoor lovers. It’s also home to deer and brown bears (!!) When visiting; we took the ropeway up Mt Ashidake, which is also the highest mountain in Hokkaido.
From here we did a 1hr loop walk (another option is to hike further up Mt Ashidake, but if you want to do this make sure you do your research in advance!) before hiking back down. For those who love hiking and being outdoors, Daisetsuzan National Park is a must-visit.
Views when hiking down from the ropeway at Mt Ashidake
So there you have it – my guide to things to do in Hokkaido!
Hokkaido was one of my favorite prefectures to visit in Japan.
This incredible island is the perfect place to visit during the summer. From delicious sashimi to mountainous views, there’s bound to be something for you to do, regardless of your travel style or interests.
Psst – are you planning your Hokkaido trip? Here are some helpful links for you…
Heading to Sapporo? Book your hotel room now!
Don’t forget to pick up a guidebook: this is my favorite Japan guidebook!
Want more Japan tips? Check out my posts here, or if you want some help packing I’ve got the ultimate packing guide here