Explore Hokkaido

With the opening of the Hokkaido shinkansen High-Speed Rail between Shin-Aomori and Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto, Hokkaido is easier to visit than ever before.
This summer itinerary is a fabulous introduction to the charms of Japan’s northernmost prefecture.
Explore Hakodate, a city rich in history and maritime culture. For serious seafood enthusiasts, the town of Hakodate is renowned for its morning market. Sip beer in Sapporo, sample sushi in Otaru,
Visit Daisetsuzan National Park and the fragrant and colourful fields in Furano.
The time to discover Hokkaido is now.

The best time of year to drive around Hokkaidō is mid-May through mid-October. 

Prices are seasonal and start from GBP 1900 per person, a minimum of 2 persons travelling and based on standard hotels. International airfares are extra. Japan experiences dramatic pricing fluctuations based on Festivals, domestic holidays and in some instances on weekends. Please ask us for an individual quote.

 

  • Visiting historical buildings, such as a Russian Orthodox Church and old brick warehouses
  • Shikotsu-Toya National Park Explore the area around Mt. Usu, an active volcano which has erupted four times in the past 100 years.
  • Enjoy the modern buzz of vibrant Sapporo
  • Visit Nijo fish market Browse displays of fresh seafood and mingle with locals at Sapporo’s 100-year-old fish market.
Explore Hokkaido at a glance
  • Day 1: Arrival in Hakodate
  • Day 2: Explore Hakodate and Onuma Park
  • Day 3: Travel to Shikotsu-Toya National Park
  • Day 4: Explore Mt. Usu and Niseko
  • Day 5: Take the train to Sapporo for a day of exploration
  • Day 6: Take the train to Otaru
  • Day 7: Travel to Furano and Biei
  • Day 8: Enjoy the hot spring resort of Sounkyo
  • Day 9: Explore Daisetsuzan National Park
  • Day 10: Extend your Hokkaido adventure to Lake Kussharo
Explore Hokkaido Image 1

Day 1: Arrival in Hakodate

Upon arrival at Hakodate Airport, an Eastravel representative will be waiting to provide a private transfer to the hotel. After checking in, enjoy the remainder of the day free at leisure.

After dinner, we recommend a trip by ropeway to the top of Mt. Hakodate, home to a famous night view, said to be one of Japan’s best.

Overnight in Hakodate

Hakodate Airport to hotel: 10 min (drive)

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Day 2: Explore Hakodate and Onuma Park

This can be a self-guided day or we can arrange for a professional guide.
Explore Hakodate, a city rich in history and maritime culture, and nearby Onuma Park, a picturesque quasi-national park. Take the train to Onuma Quasi-National Park, about 20 kilometres north of Hakodate. This park is known for its beautiful lakes dotted with small islands and Mt. Komagatake, an impressive dormant volcano.

After some time exploring the park, travel back to Hakodate by train for a visit to the Bay Area and the Motomachi District, with its distinct historical buildings, such as a Russian Orthodox Church and old brick warehouses.

Next, take the tram to Goryokaku Park, a park surrounding a western-style citadel in the shape of a star. Originally built in the dying days of the Edo Period to defend against the western imperialist threat, this is now the favourite spot of the locals to enjoy the cherry blossoms in spring.
Take a ride on the elevator up 107 metres to the top of Goryokaku Tower to catch a bird’s eye view of the beautiful park.

Overnight in Hakodate

Hakodate to Onuma Park: 45 min

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Day 3: Travel to Shikotsu-Toya National Park

Start the day with a visit to the Asa-Ichi, or morning market for a sushi breakfast.
After breakfast, meet your driver at the hotel for a transfer to Shikotsu-Toya National Park. This park was named for the two famous lakes within its borders, Lake Toya and Lake Shikotsu.

Head to Noboribetsu, an area famous for its volcanic activity and onsen (hot spring baths). Visit Jigokudani, or “Hell Valley”, a spectacle of hot steam vents and sulfurous streams. From here, take the short 30-minute walk to Oyunuma, a steamy, sulfurous pond where the surface water temperature is up to 50 degrees Celsius.

Overnight in Shikotsu-Toya

Hakodate to Noboribetsu area: 3 h (drive)
Noboribetsu area to Toyako Onsen area: 60 min (drive)

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Day 4: Explore Mt. Usu and Niseko

In the morning, explore the area around Mt. Usu, an active volcano that has erupted four times in the past 100 years. Travel to the top of Mt. Usu by ropeway, enjoying breath-taking views of the ocean, Lake Toya and Mt. Usu’s large crater. Continue the visit in the afternoon exploring the area around the impressive volcano Mt. Yotei and visit the internationally renowned mountain resort Niseko.

Overnight in Shikotsu-Toya

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Day 5: Take the train to Sapporo for a day of exploration

Take the train to Sapporo, the capital of Hokkaido and Japan’s fifth-largest city.

Suggested self-guided itinerary:
At the heart of the Sapporo is Odori Park, a 105m wide, 1.5km long Boulevard. In the summer, Odori Park is transformed into a beer garden, a great venue to mingle with the locals. Head to the observation platform at Sapporo TV Tower for a bird’s-eye view of the city and vicinity.

Another great visit is the Clock Tower Building, adjacent to the city hall, the symbol of Sapporo. Continue to the Sapporo Botanic Garden for a display of Hokkaido’s native fauna and beautiful old trees.

End the day with a visit to the Sapporo Beer Museum, a great place to sample the local speciality Jingisukan (Lamb BBQ).

For dinner, head to the famous Ramen Street, boasting 16 long-established Ramen restaurants to choose from.

Overnight in Sapporo

Toya Station to Sapporo Station: 2 h

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Day 6: Take the train to Otaru

Today is a self-guided day.

Enjoy a pleasant day trip to Otaru, half an hour northwest of Sapporo.

Suggested self-guided itinerary:
Otaru is a historic port city. Many shops and restaurants along the canal have been converted from stone-built or brick-built warehouses, which were used for storage. From there, head to Sakaimachi Street, a preserved merchant street with many restaurants, boutique shops and museums. Discover the Music Box Museum and Glass Workshops.
Take the train back to Sapporo.

Overnight in Sapporo

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Day 7: Travel to Furano and Biei

This morning, leave with your driver by car to Furano. Furano lies at the centre of Hokkaido and is known for its great weather and beautiful scenery. This area is known for its colourful flower fields, and especially the Lavender fields in the summer.

Continue along to Biei, to visit the blue pond of Biei. Its colour is nearly fluorescent blue, due to the high mineral content of the water.

Overnight in Furano

Sapporo to Furano: 2 h

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Day 8: Enjoy the hot spring resort of Sounkyo

Transfer by car to Sounkyo (2 hours), a small hot spring resort town in the north of Daisetsuzan National Park.
Daisetsuzan National Park in central Hokkaido is the largest national park in Japan-875 square miles of volcanic peaks, wide rivers, and dense forests of fir and beech

Suggested self-guided itinerary:
Take the ropeway to the top of Mt. Kurodake and do some light hiking. Don’t forget to bring warm, waterproof clothes, as the weather up top can get very cold!

Overnight in Sounkyo

Furano area to Sounkyo area: 2 h

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Day 9: Explore Daisetsuzan National Park

Today explore Daisetsuzan National Park by car with an English-speaking driver.

Enjoy a full-day tour exploring some of the wonders of the park: waterfalls, old train bridges, imposing mountains and deep gorges. There will be plenty of chances to stop the car, walk around and enjoy the fresh air and mountain scenery.

Overnight in Sounkyo

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Day 10: Extend your Hokkaido adventure to Lake Kussharo

Transfer to Asahikawa Airport for departure. Alternatively, you may wish to consider extending your Hokkaido adventure with a trip to Lake Kussharo in the beautiful Akan National Park as well as the Shiretoko Peninsula to spot some of Hokkaido’s wildlife.

You may also wish to reverse the itinerary to end up in Hakodate. From here, hop aboard the bullet train to Honshu to continue your Japan adventure.

Sounkyo area to Asahikawa Airport (AKJ): 1.5 h

 

 


Not quite right? This itinerary is just to give you an idea of what is possible. Need some more inspiration? Please get in touch at 01473 214305 or email sales@eastravel.co.uk  We welcome your questions. We're here to help!

Highlights

Akan National Park: stunning nature and abundant wildlife

Located to the east of the island of Hokkaido, the national park is an area of stunning natural beauty, particularly noted for the pristine majesty of its lakes.
Hike or cycle Lake Kussharo, a forbidding and darkly beautiful caldera lake 57km round, shrouded in fog.

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Hakodate: spectacular views

Located at the southern tip of Hokkaido, Hakodate is the island’s third city, and is celebrated for the quality and freshness of its seafood cuisine.
Explore on foot or by tram this charming port town, set between Mt Hakodate and the waters of the Tsugaru Straits

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Hokkaido: Japan's Wild Frontier

Hokkaido is a region of year round cultural festivals, and stunning natural beauty.

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Sapporo: setting for the Snow Festival

Host to the 1972 Winter Olympics, Sapporo is the largest city on the island of Hokkaido, and the setting for the fabulous annual Snow Festival. Take a photo beneath the iconic, 100 year old Sapporo City Clock

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Sounkyo: gateway to Daisetsuzan National Park

Located to the north of the Daisetsuzan National Park on the island of Hokkaido, Sounkyo is set dramatically within a wooded, steep sided gorge.

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Accommodation

Akan-ko National Park, Deluxe Class
Akan Yuku no Sato Tsuruga

Enjoying a stunning lakeside location, the property reflects faithfully, with regard to both architecture and design, it's idyllic natural setting.

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Asahi-dake, Superior Class
Asahidake Manseikaku Hotel Bearmonte

Located conveniently for the Asahidake Ropeway aerial lift, the western-style mountain lodge is set at the base of Mt Asahi.

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Hakodate, Superior Class
Yunokawa Prince Hotel Nagisatei

Set within an historic hot spring district dating to the 18th Century, the hotel enjoys views over Hakodate City and the Tsugaru Strait.

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Lake Toya, Superior Class
Lake View Toya Nonokaze Resort

Set idyllically at the water’s edge, the resort is located close to Toyako hot spring, and the Usuzan ropeway rising to the active volcano of Mt Usu.

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Sapporo, Superior Class
Sapporo Grand Hotel

Located a short walk from the city’s main attractions, this charming and historic property, one of Hokkaido’s first western-style buildings, dates to the 1930’s.

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Sounkyo Onsen, Standard Class
Sounkyo Choyotei

Set on a small hill, the hotel offers from its own onsen - or hot spring - stunning views to the facing cliffs.

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Utoro Onsen Shiretoko, Superior Class
Shiretoko Grand Hotel Kitakobushi

Located a short distance by road from Oshinkoshin Falls, and Mt Rausu, this luxury hotel enjoys fine views out over the Sea of Okhotsk.

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