Are you planning to travel to Hokkaido during the winter season? Hokkaido, the most northern part of Japan, is an amazingly beautiful place to visit. Being much cooler than the mainland, the area comes truly alive during the winter which is in fact, the most beautiful time of the year to visit the place. This is when the place is busiest and shines with fascinating sights your eyes will ever see. People from all over the world flock here to enjoy its world-famous ski-playgrounds, snow festivals, and magnificent landscapes. To help you plan your trip, here are 10 best things to do in Hokkaido during the winter.
Sapporo Snow Festival
Hokkaido has some of the best snow festivals in Japan and the Sapporo Snow Festival is one that you can’t miss. This event brings together over 2 million visitors from all over the world. Visitors here enjoy live music performance, fireworks display, and create a variety of sculptures from ice and snow. The sculptures get illuminated from sunset until when it reaches 10 PM.
Hokkaido features some of the most amazing creatures. The best part is that you don’t need to take a trip to the forest to see them. Asahiyama Zoo is one of the best places you can head to learn about Hokkaido’s amazing wildlife. The zoo gets the most visits in the entire country, especially during the winter. This is the time that most of the animals including polar bears and seals become more active.
Also known as the “Biei Blue”, the Blue Pond is a popular sightseeing spot located between Asahikawa and Furano. The man-made pond got its name from the district where it is located. During the winter, visitors come to enjoy its striking cobalt blue waters which get illuminated in the evenings. Although it only the pond’s centre where there is a spotlight, the light is cast on the entire surface thus revealing the stunning frozen beauty.
This mysterious lake is another must-visit spot in Hokkaido during the winter season. While you can enjoy visiting the lake throughout the years, it’s most beautiful during the winter. This is when the water turns into five colours creating a magical sight. Since the surface gets frozen during the winter, it creates an out of this emerald green illusion.
Constructed in 1923, this canal offers visitors romantic snow landscape views during winter evenings. The canal is bordered by a walkway which enables you to stroll along the banks of the waterway. The best time of day to visit is in the evening when the promenade gets illuminated with ancient oil lamps, turning into a beautiful scene. You can also consider taking a tour along the canal if you want to see the city from a different vantage point.
Indeed Japan is well known for its winter illuminations. And while Tokyo may be the most prominent Japanese city for this, Hokkaido also features a list of amazing illuminations that will impress you. When you visit during the winter, you can see thousands of lights making the area seem like a fairy tale. The most impressive ones are the Hakodate and – the reason why most tourists prefer celebrating Christmas and New Year’s Eve in these two places.
Watch Drift Ice
Drift ice is one of the most amazing natural phenomena you can experience. This is where pieces of sea ice drift with the ocean currents or winds. Although it mostly occurs in the Arctic and Antarctic Circles, you can still enjoy a close-to-real experience at Okhotsk Ryuhyo Museum. Just board the “Icebreaker Ship” and before long, you will see an abundance of drift ice floating across the shores of the Sea of Okhotsk.
Niseko Village Ski Resort
Hokkaido is well known worldwide for its powder skiing and Niseko village ski resort is the best place for this sport. The resort features high-quality powder snow that will satisfy even the most advanced of skiers. Thousands of tourists visit every year to enjoy skiing and snowboarding among other various winter sports. There are also several winter activities that you will only find in this region like cross-country snow rafting, snowmobiling, and reindeer sleighing.
Locate in Shiraoi-cho, the Kajikasawa Waterfall surprisingly freezes during the winter and transforms into an icefall. This creates one of the most magical and overwhelming sights that are unique to only this place. When you look at it closely, you can see blue hues that create an illusion-like beauty that can never be recreated. It is advisable to visit this site with a guided tour group.
Try out Hokkaido’s specialty dishes
Japan is one of the best places to savor some fresh seafood since the whole area is surrounded by seas. A large number of fish are caught in Hokkaido and winter is the best time of the year to try their seafood. Don’t leave without trying King Crab (Tarabagani) and Sushi which is Japan’s signature dish.