5 reasons why Hokkaido, Japan is your next travel obsession

Japan is a country that many people dream of traveling to their entire lives. But there’s more to this incredible country than Tokyo and Kyoto. There are other marvelous destinations in this richly historic country, such as Hokkaido.

Out of Japan’s main islands, it is the furthest north and one of the most picturesque. There are a number of reasons to add this island to your Japanese itinerary. Even better, make it the focus of your entire trip and drink this place in at your leisure.

Sapporo is an incredible city

Sapporo, Hokaido, Japan

SAPPORO, JAPAN – AUGUST 17: General view of Sapporo Racecourse on August 17, 2019 in Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan. Sapporo Racecourse, located in Sapporo City, the largest city on the northern island of Hokkaido. (Photo by Lo Chun Kit /Getty Images)

With a population of almost two million people, Sapporo is by far the biggest city on the island of Hokkaido. The construction of a canal in the region in the late 1800s spurred the development of a village that would eventually become a city.

Modern Sapporo is filled with stunning parks and wonderful museums. But two big things here are beer and chocolate. You can check out the history of beer at the Sapporo Beer Museum and pick up some chocolate at the Ishiya Chocolate Factory.

Several popular ski resorts

Hokkaido, Japan

JAPAN – 2008/02/03: Whooper swans (Cygnus cygnus) swimming in water kept ice-free by hot springs at the shore of Lake Kussharo, which is a caldera lake in Akan National Park, eastern Hokkaido, Japan. (Photo by Wolfgang Kaehler/LightRocket via Getty Images)

For people who know good skiing, Hokkaido is definitely a clutch travel destination. The winters on this island are borderline perfect, producing top-notch powder for avid skiers. On top of that, there are several marvelous ski resorts to choose from.

These spots run the gamut from being leisurely resorts with multiple amenities to being challenging destinations for expert skiers looking for gnarly runs. Regardless of the type of resort that fits your style, the skiing in Hokkaido is reputed to be some of the best in the world.

World-renowned seafood

At the core of Hokkaido’s economy and its cuisine is seafood. The Sea of Japan, the Sea of Okhotsk, and the North Pacific Ocean surround the island, providing ample opportunities to take advantage of fresh, delicious bounty all around it.

Crab is a huge deal in Hokkaido as are scallops, sea urchin, squid, and salmon roe. And that is only the tip of the proverbial seafood iceberg here. But if you’re not interested in seafood, this island is also famous in Japan for its unreal ramen.

Outstanding National Parks

Shiretoko, Hokkaido, Japan

SHIRETOKO, UTORO, HOKKAIDO, JAPAN – 2017/10/02: Oshinkoshin Waterfall is also known as Twin Beauties Waterfall as the waterfall splits into two parts about halfway down. Visitors can experience the dramatic energy of the waterfall by going up to an observatory that leads about halfway up the falls. From there views of the Sea of Okhotsk and the Shiretoko mountain range can be seen on a clear day. It is particularly dramatic in winter when drift ice covers the sea and it is white as far as the eye can see. Oshinkoshin Waterfall has been included in the official list: “100 Waterfalls of Japan”. The Shiretoko Peninsula has been selected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its pristine wilderness and nature. (Photo by John S Lander/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Connecting with nature on a meaningful level is a huge deal in Japan as a whole. But it is especially important on Hokkaido, an island that has established six beautiful National Parks. Each one of them offers something special and unique to visitors.

Each park protects key ecosystems, environments, and natural features, all of them a draw in their own ways. Shiretoko National Park was even named a UNESCO World Natural Heritage site in 2005, though all of them are worth checking out.

Hokkaido’s many onsen

Onsen’s are hot springs fueled by Japan’s intense volcanic activities. Traditional baths and inns have been built around them for centuries, with some of them in operation for more than 1000 years. And Hokkaido is reputed to have some outstanding onsen.

While there are several to choose from, anyone interested in a truly life-changing experience has to swing by Noboribetsu Onsen. Not only is it popular with tourists, but it is also well-known and sought out by Japanese citizens, as well.