View Map

Overview

Japan's far northern frontier is Hokkaido. Home to the Ainu people, this large island was colonized by the Japanese barely 150 years ago and as such lacks the castles, shrines and temples commonly seen elsewhere in Japan. Its prime attraction is its wonderful natural landscapes, many protected in national parks. One such park, the far northeastern Shiretoko Peninsula, has been granted World Heritage status for its rare wildlife and dramatic geography. If you're going to pick just one park to visit the best all-rounder is Daisetsu-zan, dominated by 7,513-foot Asahi-dake, Hokkaido's highest mountain. Here are hiking trails to satisfy all ...

Japan's far northern frontier is Hokkaido. Home to the Ainu people, this large island was colonized by the Japanese barely 150 years ago and as such lacks the castles, shrines and temples commonly seen elsewhere in Japan. Its prime attraction is its wonderful natural landscapes, many protected in national parks. One such park, the far northeastern Shiretoko Peninsula, has been granted World Heritage status for its rare wildlife and dramatic geography. If you're going to pick just one park to visit the best all-rounder is Daisetsu-zan, dominated by 7,513-foot Asahi-dake, Hokkaido's highest mountain. Here are hiking trails to satisfy all grades of walker, soothing hot springs and a spectacular sheer rock gorge at Sounkyo.

The island's appealing modern capital Sapporo is famous for its beer and has lovely park areas, great nightlife and some charming redbrick architecture dating back to late nineteenth century. In Hokkaido's south, Hakodate is where you'll also find many fine late 19th-century buildings preserved on the slopes of a mountain that provides panoramic views of the charming fishing port lapped by the sea on two sides. The small islands of Rishiri and Rebun off Hokkaido's northwest are also great summer destinations for hiking and beautiful natural landscapes.

Simon Richmond
About the Expert

Simon Richmond has written Rough Guides to Malaysia and Japan; Lonely Planet guides to India and Russia; and adventure travel guides for Frommer's on Australia, India, South America, and Southeast Asia.

view full overview

Simon Richmond for Triporati

Compare Flight, Car Rental, and Hotel Rates

Note: A new window will open for each site you select.

Note: A new window will open for each site you select.

Note: A new window will open for each site you select.

Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Hokkaido, formerly known as Ezo, Yezo, Yeso, or Yesso, is Japan's second largest island; it is also the largest and northernmost of Japan's 47 prefectures.
  • Language: Japanese
  • Currency: Japanese Yen
  • Research: Wikitravel | Wikipedia
  • Current Time:

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    May to late October