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Fileds with lines of different brighly coloured flowers and snow capped mountains in distance.

Hokkaido and Sapporo

Hokkaido is the second largest, northernmost and least developed of Japan’s four main islands.

With its unspoiled nature, Hokkaido attracts many outdoor lovers, including skiers and snowboarders in the colder seasons and hikers, cyclists and campers from June to September. For those travelling to Japan in search of breath-taking scenery with National Parks, wetlands, volcanoes and mountains, Hokkaido should certainly be high on your list.

Snow sculpture of a traditional Japanese building against a black sky.
Snow sculpture, Sapporo
Flower farmers, Hokkaido, Japan
Flower farmers
Sapporo, Japan
Sapporo

Highlights of Hokkaido

The capital city, Sapporo is famous for hosting the 1972 Olympic Winter Games and is today well known for its ramen (noodles), beer, and the annual snow festival held every February.

The slopes of Furano and Biei transform into Lavender fields in July and August and the hot spring resort of Noboribetsu surrounded by forested hills is home to a steaming volcanic landscape. Unspoilt landscapes offer opportunities for skiing in the winter and hiking, cycling and walking from June to September.

Steller's sea eagle in flight with prey on a background of the frozen sea, Shiretoko Peninsula. Shiretoko National Park, Japan, Hakkaydo
Steller sea eagle

National Parks and Wildlife

Shiretoko National Park, a peninsula off eastern Hokkaido, is one of Japan’s most beautiful and unspoilt national parks. With few roads the northern tip can only be viewed from boats or via multi-day trekking tours. Home to a variety of wildlife, in winter, the peninsula’s coast becomes one of the northern hemisphere’s southernmost regions to see drift ice. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage site due to the irreplaceable value of the peninsula’s ecosystem and biodiversity.

Another larger National Park, Daisetsuzan, preserves a vast, densely forested, mountainous area of wilderness – a paradise for hikers, outdoor lovers, deer and brown bears.

Experiences

Below are a selection of experiences you could consider including in your holiday to Hokkaido.

Winter on the Shiretoko Peninsula

Visit the Shiretoko Peninsula in winter when the mountains are blanketed in snow and the ocean covered in drift ice where Steller sea eagle hunt.

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Shiretoko Peninsula

Access the narrow Shiretoko Peninsula off eastern Hokkaido, a beautiful and remote National Park cut through by mountains and home to wildlife including bears, whales and a wealth of birdlife.

Lake Mashu

Hike along the rim of Lake Mashu in Hokkaido. A huge crater lake, surrounded by spectacular scenery, it is considered to be one of the most beautiful lakes in Japan.

The Blue Pond

Visit the Blue Pond in central Hokkaido, a man made pond created as a result of dams built following the eruption of nearby Mt Tokachi. Minerals within the water create the fabulous blue colour.

Rural landscapes of Biei

Take a scenic drive or cycle around the rural landscapes of Biei town where flowers bloom in summer and the mountain backdrop is stunning at all times of year.

Flower Fields

Visit the central Hokkaido town of Furano in summer when the flower fields bloom and lavender stretched as far as the eye can see.

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Skiing in Hokkaido

Head to Hokkaido in January and February when snow covers much of the island and skiing conditions are excellent.

Sample Local Hokkaido Cuisine

Dine on fresh seafood, ramen noodles and locally brewed beer.

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Snow Monkeys

See snow monkeys bathing in hot springs, a particularly photogenic spectacle especially during the winter months.

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Sapporo Snow Festival

Visit in February for the annual snow festival with snow and ice sculptures galore.

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Let’s chat

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From our very first call to Steppes and speaking to Clare, everything went like clockwork. Clare arranged a fantastic itinerary for our trip to Japan and we were extremely impressed with every aspect of our holiday.

Japan

Exceptional organisation. Absolutely nothing was left to chance and help was always a quick email away. I have no areas of complaint at all. I thought it was superb throughout.

Japan

Prompt and efficient support from Clare who suggested some activities that we wouldn't have planned but really enjoyed.

Japan

Meet our experts

A passion for travel runs right through every one of our experts - meaning they're always ready with first-hand insight about their specialist countries.

Paul Craven

Paul is the Conde Nast Traveler chosen Specialist for Central Asia and the Silk Route.

Being from a family with Army connections I can from an early age remember travelling. From camping in Europe and then later being sent to boarding school when we lived in Germany at the age of eight, complete with shorts, long socks, a cap and my suitcase. In appearance not too dissimilar to the children evacuated to the countryside during the blitz. Later, my father’s postings took us to Nepal where we had to transit Delhi and Kathmandu where we were sometimes stranded for days and Hong Kong from where I travelled in 1983 through China for two months.

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Clare Higginson

It was my passion for languages that first encouraged me to leave the UK behind and grab my rucksack. Since then, it’s been a mixture of intriguing cultures, jaw-dropping landscapes and the wonder of seeing animals in their natural habitat that sees me continuously extending my travel wish list. I also seek adventure; exploring the deep blue or hiking a peak often winning favour. Although it’s my time horse herding in Mongolia that I regularly want to relive.

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Why Choose Steppes?

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