10 Best Hidden Gems in Hokkaido

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Writer’s Profile

Bryce was born in California, but raised from the age of 3 near Seattle, Washington. He’s been living in Tokyo for about 7 years, and graduated from Temple University, Japan with degrees in economics and international business. He loves traveling of course, but also cooking, snowboarding, some video games as well. His biggest interest is songwriting/music production, more specifically electronic music… (think Skrillex, Marshmello, Daft Punk, etc.) He also has terrible humor as you’ll notice, but he hopes you’ll enjoy it!

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Nestled in the northernmost part of Japan, Hokkaido is a treasure trove waiting to be discovered. Food and nature are some of the best things to enjoy, besides its incredible and world famous conditions for snowsports. But as with most desirable locations to visit, there are many paths to choose from- some certainly less traveled or beaten than the others. So forget the crowded tourist spots; these unique locations offer a genuine glimpse into the soul of Hokkaido. Parks, villages, festivals, hot springs, and even a holy pond are just some of the things that can be discovered here! So get ready to become an expert on Hokkaido and its hidden gems, we’ve got the perfect collection for you.

1. Sobetsu Fruit Village

Escape the bustling city life and immerse yourself in the fruity haven of Sobetsu. This charming village boasts orchards laden with an abundance of succulent fruits. The best time to visit is during late spring when cherry blossoms bloom until autumn, creating a picturesque landscape. They have a variety of at least 50 fruits to pluck, namely cherries, peaches, apples, strawberries, and many more. Stroll through the orchards, handpick your favorite fruits, and indulge in a juicy experience.

2. Nopporo Forest Park

For nature enthusiasts, Nopporo Forest Park is a sanctuary of tranquility. Explore over 2000 hectares of lush greenery, serene ponds, and well-maintained trails. There are even chances to spot wildlife such as foxes, flying squirrels, and tanuki! The park transforms with each season, making it a year-round attraction. Whether it’s the vibrant colors of autumn or the snowy wonderland in winter, Nopporo Forest Park offers a breath of fresh air away from the city hustle.

3. Maruyama Zoo

Experience a unique blend of nature and wildlife at Maruyama Zoo. What sets it apart is the immersive environment created for the animals. Their goal has been to mimic and maintain the sapporo of 50 years ago, when nature was more abundant and more easily accessible. This zoo is long standing and has received continuous admiration for its efforts to provide the animals with the best experience, as well as the patrons. Visit during the early morning or late afternoon to witness the animals at their most active. A hidden gem for animal lovers, Maruyama Zoo showcases a commitment to conservation and education.

4. Asahikawa Winter Festival

Winter in Hokkaido is incomplete without attending the Asahikawa Winter Festival. Not to be confused with the snow festival, a much more known (and very memorable) festival with huge snow sculptures. Nevertheless, this annual extravaganza transforms the city into a dazzling winter wonderland all the same. From intricate ice sculptures to lively snow parades, the festival captures the magic of the season. Bundle up and witness the artistry of ice and snow at its finest.

5. Teshikaga Hot Springs

Unwind in the soothing embrace of Teshikaga Hot Springs, a hidden oasis surrounded by nature. The outdoor baths offer panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes, creating a serene and memorable experience. Within Teshikaga, there are 2 different water sources to know about: Kawayu, a more acidic water from mount Io, and Mashu, a softer alkaline water from an unknown source. Visit during the colder months to enjoy the juxtaposition of the warm waters against the snowy backdrop.

6. Kaminokoike

Legend has it that Kaminokoike, nestled in the Akan National Park, is a pond supposed to be created by the gods themselves. The mystical ambiance and crystal-clear waters make it a must-visit destination. Apparently the water flows from lake Mashuko through the ground. Mysteriously, the lake’s water level never changes despite snowmelt, and has no rivers flowing in or out. Visit during the early morning or late afternoon to witness the pond’s ethereal beauty and reflections that seem almost otherworldly.

7. Sapporo Satoland

Satoland is a great place for the kids! With an array of activities like handmade crafts, train rides, a petting zoo, carriage rides, and horse rides, it’s definitely an environment to create some core memories for the munchkins. Flower lovers are also welcome here as the park boasts some great fields displaying a variety of blooms. Even though it’s good for kids, it’s also a charming spot for couples to relax and share some smiles.

8. Rishiri Island

For those seeking a remote escape, Rishiri Island is a hidden gem surrounded by the Sea of Japan. Known for its untouched natural beauty, the island offers hiking trails with breathtaking views of Mount Rishiri. Visit during the summer months for a picturesque landscape adorned with wildflowers or embark on a winter adventure for a serene, snow-covered retreat. About 5000 people live within its 60 km circumference and love to fish!

9. Mt. Moiwa

A panoramic view of Sapporo awaits those who ascend Mt. Moiwa. Accessible by cable car, this vantage point provides a stunning cityscape, especially during and after sunset. The city lights come to life, creating a mesmerizing scene that’s perfect for a romantic evening. Capture the moment and create memories that will last a lifetime. If this is your sort of thing, be sure to also check out Mt. Hakodate as well for another incredible view of the night time cityscape.

10. Wakkanai

Venture to the northernmost point of Japan, Wakkanai, where you’ll find a unique blend of natural wonders and historical significance. Cape Soya, overlooking the Sea of Japan, marks the beginning of your exploration. The Cape Soya Museum provides insights into the region’s maritime history. Embrace the brisk sea breeze and witness the meeting point of the Sea of Japan and the Sea of Okhotsk. Also, there’s even a song written about the location… Can you find it?

As our journey through Hokkaido’s hidden gems concludes, we hope you’re inspired to embark on your own adventure. From the tranquil hot springs to the vibrant winter festivals, Hokkaido offers a myriad of experiences beyond the typical tourist attractions. Whether you’re a resident looking for new escapades or a visitor eager to uncover the authentic soul of Japan, these spots off the beaten path promise memories that will make you thankful to have avoided the typical!

Japan Wonder Travel Tours 

Japan Wonder Travel is a travel agency that offers guided tours throughout Japan. 
From private walking tours to delicious Food and Drink tours, we can help you organize the best tours just for you! If you want to explore Japan and learn more about the history and backstories of each area you are visiting, our knowledgeable and friendly English speaking guides will happily take you to the best spots! 
In addition, we can provide you with any assistance you may need for your upcoming trip to Japan, so please feel free to contact us if yu have any questions or need some help! 

Tokyo Tsukiji Fish Market Food and Drink Tour
Explore the most lively and popular fish market in Tokyo and try some of the local’s favorite street foods and sake with one of our friendly and knowledgeable English speaking guides! 

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Tokyo 1–Day Highlights Private Walking Tour (8 Hours)
There’s no better way to explore an area than taking a tour with a knowledgeable local guide. You will have the chance to learn about the history and interesting background stories of Tokyo, as well as discover some hidden gems which can be hard to do without a guide.

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Mt. Fuji Day Trip Bus Tour from Tokyo
Experience the breathtaking views of Mt. Fuji by visiting the highlights of the area on our guided sightseeing bus tour! Departing from Shinjuku in central Tokyo, you can travel comfortably to all of the best spots in the area by bus.

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