Misty Fujii is a Canadian who moved to Osaka, Japan in 2019 and married her Japanese sweetheart. In 2022 they had a baby and moved to Fukui for the clean country air. She is a DJ who teaches English part time and writes in order to share Japan with the world. She gets excited about collecting vintage vinyl records, food of all countries, travelling and renovating her traditional Japanese house.
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Hokkaido may be best known for its snow, but there is so much more to discover in Japan’s northernmost region. Abundant in fresh produce, boasting a unique history, and home to the indigenous Ainu people, today, the island has embraced elements of modernity while still cherishing its roots and past.
Attracting many outdoor lovers, Hokkaido has pristine nature and uninhabited wilderness. There are notable landmarks like Mt. Yōtei, also known as the Mt. Fuji of Hokkaido, national parks, markets, and festivals.
As far as weather goes, Hokkaido experiences all four seasons, including warm and sunny summers when you can see beautiful flowers and eat sumptuous seasonal fish. However, winter is one of the best times to experience this frigid prefecture, with many attractions luring both Japanese and foreign visitors.
Not sure where to start? Here’s a five-day itinerary to set you off on a grand adventure inside and out.
- Day 1: Sapporo
- Day 2: Furano
- Day 3: Otaru
- Day 4: Niseko
- Day 5: Sapporo
- Japan Wonder Travel Tours
- Other articles you might be interested in
Day 1: Sapporo
We begin our adventure in Hokkaido’s capital and largest city, Sapporo. Experience some of the city’s most iconic elements, such as snow, ramen, and its namesake beer.
Sapporo Snow Festival
Attracting 2 million tourists annually, the week-long Sapporo Snow Festival is a must-see! While celebrating everything snow and ice, the festival is a brilliant show of art, culture, sports, and food. It happens in February across three prominent locations; Odori Park, Susukino, and Tsudome. You will see hundreds of ice sculptures and attractions, such as snow slides and mazes, all while gorging on regional foods from all over Hokkaido. If you need a place to stay during the festival or just want to stay in this general area, have a look at our article below!
Eat Miso Ramen at Ramen Alley
After enjoying the Sapporo Snow Festival in Susukino, trek down an alley close to the Susukino subway station. Here you’ll find the birthplace of miso ramen on a famous yokocho street where you can fill your belly with the rich, umami noodle soup. There are many restaurants to choose from, so follow your heart and nose until you find one that strikes your fancy. You can also head here after a night of drinking, which is the liveliest time to visit.
Sapporo Beer Museum
Learn all about the history of beer in Japan at its birthplace. Originally a brewery, the Sapporo Beer Museum is where you can find out how they make the beer, and you can even participate in beer tastings. Home to one of Japan’s signature beers, there’s the Sapporo Beer Garden next door. Take the Loop 88 Factory bus from Odori Station to the museum, browse it yourself, or pay a little extra for a guided tour.
Bar Hopping at Susukino
When the sun goes down, the pulse of Sapporo’s nightlife quickens in the Susukino area. Head south from Odori park until you find yourself among the neon lights at the intersection of Susukino Crossing. Home to cafes, bars, and izakayas, you’ll have your choice of spots to imbibe. If alcohol isn’t for you, eateries dish up delicious desserts, and restaurants serve Sapporo’s soul food of fresh mutton and meat sauce.
Day 2: Furano
A picturesque town in central Hokkaido, Furano boasts famous lavender fields in the summer and a snowy paradise in the winter. It’s icy, so bundle up and have some fun.
Winter Activities: Dog Sledding, Hot Air Balloon, Skiing
The options for winter action seem never-ending. Snow sports like skiing and snowboarding are paradise on the well-developed ski area with fresh, powdery snow that makes for ideal conditions. You can rent everything you need to hit the 950 meters of slopes with hills for beginners to advanced athletes.
If you want to experience something different, why not try dog sledding? You can take a lesson and hit a trail with dogs racing as fast as 14-20 kilometers per hour on various routes, from relaxing to thrilling.
Reach new heights soaring up to 1000 meters above the Furano Basin, Mt. Tokachi, and Mt. Taisetsu in a hot air balloon. Free and tethered flights are available; both are safe and make for an unforgettable experience. Riding in a hot air balloon is ideal in Furano, with its vast open fields.
Shopping at Ningle Terrace
In the forests of Furano, you’ll find wood cabins where you can buy or make artisanal handicrafts. When it gets dark, the area lights up to create a dreamy landscape. Take a moment to watch the artisans at work and admire the beauty of the cottages and trees. It’s an ideal way to cap off a busy day, strolling through nature while picking up one-of-a-kind souvenirs.
Day 3: Otaru
Next, let’s head to the port town of Otaru. Located northwest of Sapporo and en route to Niseko, it makes a perfect stop to savor local seafood and sightsee the historic cityscape.
Enjoy Seafood at Sankaku Market
It’s about time to take in some of the delicious seafood that Hokkaido, particularly Otaru, is famous for. Located near Otaru Station, the market offers many kinds of cuisine like crab, scallops, salmon, and mackerel. January and February are the best times to visit when you can also try mouthwatering herring. Open daily from 8:00-17:00, you’ll get to eat some of the freshest catches from the sea nearby. You can’t go wrong getting a donburi bowl so that you can try many kinds of succulent seafood all at once.
Otaru Canal Cruise
Take a cruise through the original gateway to Hokkaido. The Otaru Canal is the most famous sightseeing spot here, and it’s easy to understand why. Running centrally through the city, you can see historical warehouses, many of which have been converted into museums, shops, cafes, and pubs. You can enjoy the cruise during the day or night, but doing it at night when the buildings light up gives an extra romantic vibe. Stroll along the canal before or after the cruise, and you can visit any of the open buildings.
Day 4: Niseko
More powdery fresh snow awaits in the village of Niseko. Home to brilliant ski slopes, onsen, and restaurants, Niseko is also where you’ll find Mt. Yōtei, a smaller version of Mt. Fuji.
Mount Niseko Annupuri is reputed to be the best ski mountain in Japan, and it’s easy to see why. With breathtaking views, impeccable snow, and a peak elevation of 1308 meters, everyone can ski or snowboard here regardless of their skill level. There are easier slopes for beginners and off-piste terrain amongst the wilderness for advanced skiers. For those into extreme sports, experience the thrill of skiing right at the crater of this active volcano. Rent equipment or bring your own and hit the trails.
Day 5: Sapporo
There was far too much to do for one day in Sapporo, so return here to finish your Hokkaido holiday. After the exciting and athletic activities in Furano and Niseko, a trip to a market and a park make for a leisurely and delicious way to wind down.
Hit the spot where locals and visitors shop for seafood and fresh local produce. Nicknamed “Sapporo’s public kitchen,” the market spans approximately one city block. Also, it has restaurants to enjoy fresh food right away. Check out the main dining area, “Noren Yokocho,” and start your day with a delicious donburi bowl breakfast to fuel you for shopping and exploring. Take in the sights and sounds of the vendors while sampling some of Hokkaido’s most famous and delicious goods. In addition to seafood, you’ll be able to buy fruits and vegetables like melon and corn, for which the region is well known.
Shiroikoibito isn’t just any old park; it’s a chocolate entertainment park. Revel in a sugary fantasy land that is a marriage between British and Japanese cultures. Operated by the Japanese candy manufacturer that makes the white chocolate Shiroi Koibito cookies, this is a must-see for anyone with a sweet tooth. With a chocolate factory, shop and museum, you can see how chocolate is made, make cookies and buy souvenir sweets that are famous in Hokkaido. Different tours are available to learn about chocolate and taste your way around the park. There’s no better way to end a trip than with a full belly and a sugar high.
Hokkaido has so many things to do and see that it’s impossible to fit everything into five days. That’s all the more reason why having an itinerary is a valuable way to narrow down your plans so you can get as much done as possible. If you have something else in mind, don’t hesitate to book a one-day tour of Sapporo that you can customize to your tastes with Japan Wonder Travel.
Japan Wonder Travel Tours
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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 you have any questions or need some help!
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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!
▶Tokyo 1–Day Highlights Private Walking Tour (8 Hours)
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