Japan’s northern region of Hokkaido is consistently voted the top prefecture in the country and for good reason. We pulled together a list of 70 different things to do on the island to please even the most finicky of travelers. From nature lovers and thrill seekers through to culture vultures and food fanatics, there really is something for everyone.
Those who love scenery can climb to the top of one of its many mountains, while visitors who like to relax can have a deep soak in a hot spring. Known for the most delicious natural produce in the whole of Japan, food lovers will savor the chance to try the freshest seafood as well as the most delicious fruit and vegetables.
1. Visit the giant Buddha’s head at the Hill of the Buddha.
2. Marvel at the ice sculptures at the Sapporo Snow Festival in February.
4. Mountain climb up Asahidake.
5. Savor melons in Yubari.
6. Ski in Niseko, home to world-class powder.
7. Try some purple lavender ice cream in Furano. You must have seen it on Instagram.
8. Be mystified at the magical moss balls (Marimo) at Lake Akan.
9. Watch monkeys bathing at Yunokawa Onsen in Hakodate. There is a troupe of over 70 little critters.
10. Check out the Clock Tower in Sapporo.
Arts and Culture
11. Critique some movies at the Yubari Film Festival.
12. Go to Nevermind the Books, a fair with a huge selection of zines and art books.
13. School yourself about ancient civilisations in Noboribetsu Date Jidai Village.
14. Look through some stained glass in Otaru.
15. Meet the Ainu Shaman in Nibutani. She’s there. Maybe you’ll see her.
16. Read some Russian in Wakkanai. Yes, the town has road signs in Japanese, English and Russian because of its close proximity to Russia.
17. Shop at Hakodate Red Brick Warehouse.
18. Spend the afternoon reading in Sapporo Library, which has an excellent selection of art books and a fine reading corner.
19. Time travel to the Historical Village of Hokkaido.
20. Adorn yourself with an omamori from Hokkaido Jingu.
21. Head to Japan’s first male monastery in Tobetsu.
22. Make a musical box at Otaru Music Box Museum.
Food and Drink
23. Drink in a bar made of ice in Shikaribetsu.
24. Dine on Michelin sea urchin on Rishiri Island (spoiler: you don’t need to dress up in your finest rags for this authentic taste).
25. Sample some Ishikari Nabe in Ishikari Village.
26. Devour miso ramen in Aji no Sanpei, the birthplace of miso ramen.
27. Eat vegan soba at Lohas restaurant. Vegan soba is a rarity in Japan.
28. Finish your night with shime parfait at Parfait, Coffee, Liquor, Sasaki, the coolest late-night parfait in Sapporo.
29. Glug lots of beer at Sapporo Beer Museum.
30. Make a pizza with vegetables you picked in Nayoro.
31. Sample onsen eggs in Tokachigawa.
32. Stimulate your senses with the sights at Hakodate Food Market.
33. Try Kaisendon in Otaru, home to some of the most delicious seafood in Japan.
35. Taste some salmon soup (sanpeijiru).
36. Soul soothe with some soup curry, Hokkaido’s soul food, at Garaku.
37. Enjoy some wine at Domaine Takahiko.
38. Birdwatch on Teuri Island, a tiny area that is home to over 1 million birds.
39. Bounce above the clouds at Unkai Terrace at Hoshino Resorts Tomamu.
40. Cable car down Mount Tengu (only operational between April and November).
41. Camp under the stars at Hoshini Tenotodoku Camping Ground.
42. Climb to the top of the Cape Soya watchtower in Wakkanai.
43. Cycle the Shiretoko Loop.
44. Relive your childhood by going on a Grizzly Bear Hunt in Shiretoko, one of the places with the most bears in the world.
45. Hike around Daisetsuzan, Hokkaido’s largest national park.
46. Kayak over crystal clear waters at Lake Shikotsu, the most transparent waters in Japan.
47. Play around at Moerenuma Park, a giant architectural playground designed by Isamu Noguchi.
48. Row a boat around Lake Shikaribetsu.
49. Search for Mini Mount Fuji (it’s Mount Yotei).
50. Snorkel in Shakotan.
51. Snowboard down a mountain in Rusutsu.
52. Wade through the mist in Kushiro Marshland. It’s like a dream world of fog.
53. Admire flower fields in Furano’s Tomita Farm. For the best sights, visit in July or August.
54. Commemorate your anniversary at the top of Mount Moiwa.
55. Gaze over the aquamarine Blue Pond in Biei.
56. Drive the roller coaster road in Kamifurano.
57. See early autumn leaves at Jozankei Dam.
58. Look out from the cliffs of Cape Chikyu in Muroran.
59. Marvel at the drift ice in Abashiri.
60. Visit a caldera in Shikotsu-Toya National Park. Nothing says nature like being surrounded by mountains.
61. Watch fireworks over Toyohira.
62. Stay safe in Hell Valley in Noboribetsu.
63. Be surprised at the roadside geyser in Shikabe.
64. Bathe in a crude oil bath in Toyotomi Onsen. A short soak will leave you glowing all day.
65. Soak with a beer at Hoheikyo Onsen. Tattoos are permitted.
66. Hunt for cranes at Tsurui Ito Tancho Crane Sanctuary.
67. Scream around the Ultra Twister at Rusutsu Theme Park.
68. Sweeten up at the Chocolate Theme Park.
69. Appreciate the lights at the Asahikawa Machiakari Illumination.
70. Visit a kombu farm on Rishiri, an island that produces the world’s best kombu. Seriously, the whole island even smells of the stuff.