These tours are great for first time visitors to Japan looking for comfortable accommodation with all entrance fees and most meals included. Our Japan Deluxe Tours are accomodated with professional tour guides, fluent in both Japanese and English, to ensure an educational and valuable visit. Air-conditoned, private coaches are also included, so you can enjoy a comfortable and hassle-free time in Japan. Our tours range from 7 to 21 days, to various regions of Japan.
These tours combine enrichment, enjoyment, and education with time to truly absorb and appreciate your surroundings. Our Deluxe-Plus small group tours are created to cater to those who are interested in having a deeper understanding of Japan's culture. You will have the opportunity to participate in culturally rich activities and visit destinations only locals may know. Experience luxurious hotels and travel at a leisurely pace when you book a Deluxe-Plus small group tour.
Enjoy more than just sightseeing. These tours will allow you to eat in small local restaurants, visit hidden gems, stay at hotels with limited occupancy, take part in activities available only to small groups, and enjoy more interaction with your tour guides. Ultra-Deluxe small group tours are the ultimate way to visit Japan with hand-picked, top hotels and ryokans (traditional inns) to relax in. Select from a unique range of luxurious cultural experiences that are limited to smaller groups, which is why the maximum group size is 6 guests.
These tours allow you to enjoy Japanese culture firsthand in the intimacy of a small group. The maximum group size is 12 guests, which enables you to travel by public transportation, such as by train, subway, taxi, ferry or local bus. Walking the streets and taking the local trains will allow you to interact more with the locals and appreciate what everyday life in Japan is like. Each city will feature an expert local guide who will be able to share in-depth information on the featured attractions and sites, and provide assistance or recommendations if needed prior to your free time.
The price is per person, based on twin or triple room occupancy
For single travelers, this tour has a single supplement. This guarantees a single room throughout the tour
Prices are excluding international flights
Single room types are rooms for
single room occupants.
One person will be occupying the hotel room throughout the tour.
Twin room types are rooms set for two people who will occupy one room, but will have two separate beds.
A double room is a room that has one bed for two people to share.
A triple room is one room where three people may share the same room. It has three separate beds.
Japanese Style Room
A Japanese-style room traditionally does not have a western-style bed, it is a tatami floor room with futon bedding. However, if you prefer a western-style bed, you may request one though we cannot guarantee it.
Please note: If you would like to request neighboring rooms next to your traveling companions, you and your traveling companions must have the same room types in order to be next to each other. For example, if you have requested a double room, but your traveling companions have requested a twin, or triple room, then neighboring rooms cannot be accommodated. However, if both you and your traveling companions match in room type, then neighboring rooms will likely be arranged for your convenience.
October is a beautiful time of the year to visit the northern island of Japan. During autumn in Hokkaido, the weather is dry, and the leaves of the trees visually pop in a color explosion of red, orange, and gold. The season also coincides with an amazing feat of nature - the Hokkaido salmon run. This incredible coordinated struggle against the elements is a natural wonder that shouldn't be missed! This Charms of Hokkaido itinerary brings both the splendid autumn leaves and running sal... View More
October is a beautiful time of the year to visit the
island of Japan. During autumn in Hokkaido, the weather
is dry, and the leaves of the trees visually pop in a color
explosion of red, orange, and gold. The season also
coincides with an amazing feat of nature - the Hokkaido
salmon run. This incredible coordinated struggle against
the elements is a natural wonder that shouldn't be
This Charms of Hokkaido itinerary brings both the
autumn leaves and running salmon to delight our guests,
along with those unique cultural experiences that you
only find in Hokkaido, with tour stops in Sapporo, Shiraoi,
Abashiri, the Shiretoko Peninsula, Sounkyo, Asahikawa,
Lake Akan, and the Kushiro Marshlands.
The Uyoro River flows down from a mountainous region above the town of Shiraoi, curving straight through the town before emptying into the Pacific Ocean. Every year, thousands of salmon make the run upstream every year back up to where they were born, drawing pro fishermen and nature lovers alike to watch this incredible sight. And this tour has a number of other natural beauties waiting to be enjoyed - filled with bright autumn colors. Hokkaido is the first place in the country to see the fall foliage, and the Shiretoko Peninsula, Sounkyo, and Kushiro are among the top destinations in the region that offer visitors some of the best scenes of autumn. While exploring this region, you will experience a cruise around the southern coast filled with breathtaking nature scenes and various local wildlife (including the Ezo Red Fox), in addition to gorgeous waterfalls, sparkling as they run over rocky cliffs, like a curtain of white stars.
The history and unique culture of Hokkaido awaits your discovery on a tour designed to engage our guests' interest - when one day finds you on an informative tour of the Upopoy National Ainu Museum in Shiraoi, and the next day, studying Hokkaido's history of pioneering and exploration at the Hokkaido Historical Village in Sapporo. The port city of Otaru beckons visitors to get a taste of Hokkaido seafood with the Otaru Sushi District, while Asahikawa pleases the palate with a range of local comfort food at the Asahikawa Ramen Village. To find out more information about this Charms of Hokkaido tour, please browse our itinerary below.
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All prices are per person, based on twin (double on request) or triple occupancy.
International flights are not included on our tours - this allows you the flexibility to choose your own departure and get the best value for your money!
We can arrange international flights for US customers if needed, please ask for details.
We require US$200 deposit per person to hold the space at time of booking and the final payment is due 2 month prior to departure.
Travel by private coach between destinations, hassle free baggage handling.
For arrivals at New Chitose Airport (CTS), this tour starts in Sapporo and ends in Kushiro, with departures at Kushiro Airport (KUH).
Vegetarian or special meals can be arranged.
Please note that the meet and greet and airport transfer to the first hotel is ONLY available on the first day of the tour after 11 AM. If you plan to stay extra nights before the start of the tour, we will provide full instructions in advance for you to transfer to your hotel on your own.
Welcome to Sapporo! You will be met at the arrival gate by an AJT representative holding an "All Japan Tours" sign.
NOTE 1: The meet and greet and airport transfer to the first hotel is ONLY available on the first day of the tour after 11 AM. If you plan to stay extra nights before the start of the tour, we will provide full instructions in advance for you to transfer to your hotel on your own.
We begin the day in Chitose, where we will make a stop at the Salmon Hometown Chitose Aquarium. You can learn about all about the life of salmon and observe them through a variety of exhibit rooms including an underwater room where you can watch the salmon swimming in the river Chitose and an aquarium that reproduces the bottom of Lake Shikotsu. From there, we continue to Shiraoi and the National Ainu Museum, home to over a thousand different artifacts related to the indigenous Ainu people. Then we travel to the Uyoro River which runs steadily through the green Shiraoi countryside. Against the flow of this river, hundreds of salmon swim energetically upstream, and the water is clear enough to make it easy for visitors to admire their progress as they observe this marvel of the natural world.
Today, we go into the Historic Village of Hokkaido where horse-drawn carriages and trolleys are still seen and used. The village offers insight on its history and an open-air museum as well as through their buildings, which exemplify architectural evolution from the Meiji and Taisho eras into the modern age. Then we take a trip to Hokkaido Shrine - one of the city's most beautiful locations, surrounded by natural beauty and protected by four Shinto kami (deities), including the soul of Emperor Meiji. Enjoy a crab lunch before heading to the Shiroi Koibito Park - a sweet theme park started by a local chocolate company, and featuring the Shiroi Koibito cookie, a buttery cookie with a white-chocolate filling. Next, we make our way to Odori Park - a long stretch of green, covered in bushes and trees in the center of the city. On one side is the Sapporo Clock Tower, with a museum inside the old colonial-style architecture which tells the history of the city, and a clock brought over from Boston, USA. In the evening, we explore Susukino - Sapporo's bustling entertainment district packed end-to-end with eye-catching storefront signs.
This morning we continue to enjoy a tour of Sapporo with a visit to Okurayama Ski Jump Observatory for an incredible view of Sapporo. After, we will tour the Asahi Beer Hokkaido Brewery, the largest beer brewery in Sapporo, which produces one of Japan's most popular beers. Then we will travel to Otaru for a leisurely stroll through the port city's heritage district. As you walk up Sakaimachi Street, you can see Otaru's history in old Western-style fisheries, shops and houses. On the way, we'll explore Otaru's reputation for excellent glass craftsmanship at the Kitaichi Garasukan, where glassmakers transitioned from making simple glass fishing buoys to crafting fine glassware and artwork. At one end of Sakaimachi Street we'll discover the Music Box Museum, a cozy museum and shop selling a large collection of charming music boxes. After, we will take a walk along the Otaru Canal, which had once fallen into disrepair at the introduction of modern docking facilities, and has since been converted into a charming vintage promenade. Finally, we will make our way to the Otaru Sushi District, where you will be free to find your own sushi dinner from among the shops selling various kinds of sushi.
Start off the day with a drive to Asahikawa and a visit to the Otokoyama Sake Brewery, where we can discover the production process behind one of Hokkaido's most popular sake brands, and taste the freshest sake brewed from Hokkaido's clean mineral water. Then we travel to Asahikawa Ramen Village to find some of Hokkaido's best ramen shops. After, we drive down to Sounkyo to see a pair of Hokkaido's most beautiful waterfalls. The Ginga, or "Galaxy" waterfall drapes over the rock like a white curtain, while the Ryusei "Shooting Star" waterfall rushes out from behind the rocks in the cliff face like a natural jetstream.
The morning begins with breakfast at the hotel, followed by a drive to Kitami, a small town in the countryside. We will stop for a visit to the Kitakitsune Farm, which cares for the well being of one of Hokkaido's native treasures - the Ezo red fox. These adorable creatures, noted for their gorgeous and fluffy coats, are considered heavenly messengers in traditional Shinto mythology, with statues of foxes decorating the grounds of many shrines. Next, we drive to the town of Abashiri for a tour of the Abashiri Prison Museum. This prison was notorious in the Meiji period for housing over a thousand political prisoners. At the prison, we can witness the prisoners' daily lives through life-like displays, and tour the various old prison facilities. Then we travel to the Okhotsk Ryu-hyo Museum, which features interactive exhibits about the native environment around the Bay of Okhotsk, where you can see ryu-hyo, or drift ice. We will have a rare opportunity to observe the mysterious sea life known as clione "sea angels".
Today takes us into one of Japan's natural UNESCO Heritage Sites - the Shiretoko Peninsula. The scenic landscape known as the Shiretoko Five Lakes is especially gorgeous in autumn, when the treeline around the lakes is flush with autumn colors and a variety of wild animals and birds hide their homes. This region is a natural treasure of Japan, and a cruise around the peninsula offers visitors a chance to see this magnificent area in all its autumnal splendor. While on the peninsula, we will stop near the town of Shari to observe the spectacular Furepe Waterfall. The water for Furepe Falls comes not from a river or stream, but from underground, making it appear as though the water pours directly out of the rock face. We continue on from there to a large caldera lake in the Akan Mashu National Park - Lake Mashu, which is one of the clearest lakes in the country. It is gorgeous when one is lucky enough to view the lake on a clear day, though the thick fog which commonly hangs over the lake brings a mysterious atmosphere over the lake.
After breakfast, enjoy a cruise around Lake Akan, which is protected as a special natural monument of Japan for its green morimo algae, which form at the bottom of the lake in large, fluffy balls. Near the lake is the Ainu Kotan, a street that specializes in hand-crafts, cultural items, and other souvenirs from the native Ainu culture. Then we will drive to Kushiro for a visit to Akan International Crane Center. Kushiro is the home of the rare and beautiful Tancho "red-crowned" crane. The crane is an animal closely tied to Japanese folklore, and you can see many of these delicate birds here year round, and view exhibits about the breeding and ecology of cranes. Then we will explore the Kushiro Marshlands, a region protected by the Japanese as the winter roosting grounds of the red- crowned crane. The marsh feels most alive in this season, verdant and lush with grass and vegetation. Stop by at the Kushiro Marsh Observatory to enjoy a panoramic view of the marshland, the city of Kushiro, and the mountains of Akan. The Washo Market in Kushiro, Hokkaido is a market specializing in selling fish produce to the public. It is located close to the Kushiro Station within walking distance of the market. It is considered one of the top three markets to go to in Hokkaido.
After breakfast, our tour officially ends.
Checkout time is 11 am.
Transfer to Kushiro Airport by Airport Limousine Bus.
NOTE 2: The departure airport transfer is ONLY available on the last day of the tour. If you plan to stay extra nights after the tour, we will provide full instructions in advance for you to transfer to the airport on your own.
NOTE 3: If you would like to stay longer in Japan, please contact us to book hotel accommodations.
Chitose is a city in southern Hokkaido. As the main point of arrival into Hokkaido, Chitose is home to New Chitose Airport, the largest international airport of Hokkaido and the most convenient to the capital of Sapporo. New Chitose is the fifth busiest airport in Japan, and the route between Chitose and Tokyo is one of the most traveled in the country. The city is also known for nearby Lake Shikotsu, a picturesque caldera lake within the Shikotsu- Toya National Park. It is also known for having a Peace Pagoda, presented to the city by the Japanese Buddhist organization Nipponzan Myohoji after World War 2. Chitose used to be called “shikot” by the Ainu, and Lake Shikotsu retains the name, but the town was changed to “Chitose” to avoid the similarity to the Japanese word for “dead bones”.
This aquarium in Chitose offers visitors a glimpse into the life and habits the local salmon and other freshwater fish.
Salmon Hometown Chitose Aquarium is a unique aquarium where visitors can observe salmon and other freshwater fish common to a northern climate. The aquarium is split into several zones with a variety of tanks, including a “touch tank” where people can feel fish as they swim by, and an underwater tank that allows viewers to see the bottom of the Chitose River. Their underwater room is best observed during the months of September and October, when the river is filled with hundreds of salmon swimming back upstream during the annual fall salmon run.
Shiraoi is a small town in Hokkaido Prefecture. Though officially established in the mid-1800s by the lords of Sendai during the feudal era, this coastal town’s history goes back even further as a former settlement of the native Ainu. In recognition of this dual heritage, the town has constructed the Ainu Museum, which celebrates the language, history, culture, and legacy of the Ainu, through various exhibits and demonstrations for nearly every aspect of daily Ainu life. The museum apparently has collected over five thousand various folk items related to the Ainu people. Shiraoi is also noted for its beautiful nature, especially Lake Kuttara, which, according to Japan’s Ministry of the Environment, is one of Japan’s clearest lakes. Shiraoi wagyu beef is a famous local product, with local farms of black Japanese cattle scattered around the nearby countryside.
A replacement facility for the old “Porotokan” Ainu Museum, this newer exhibit space works to further expand visitors’ understanding of the Ainu People.
Initially opened in 1990, the Porotokan Ainu Museum was dedicated to cataloging, preserving, and teaching the history and culture of the original native peoples of Hokkaido: the Ainu people. In 2018, however, the Porotokan closed down in order to clear the way for the new and expanded National Ainu Museum. This newer museum’s philosophy is based on the ideals of multicultural coexistence and presents various exhibits divided into six separate Ainu-centered themes: history, language, lifestyle, livelihood, worldview, and trade with other peoples. The museum is one building in a larger facility called Upopoy (“singing in a large group” in Ainu language). This facility includes, in addition to the museum, a National Park near Lake Poroto, and a Memorial Site for deceased Ainu.
Every October, salmon swim upstream from Pacific Ocean, through the Uyoro River in Shiraoi, in a great migration back to the salmon spawning grounds.
Hokkaido is known for its abundance of sea life and delicious seafood. Salmon is especially plentiful, and is at the center of an annually occurring natural marvel – the fall salmon run. The persistent tenacity of the salmon during the migration to their spawning grounds is an impressive sight to behold. Many rivers across Hokkaido draw travelers to view the salmon run, but near the town of Shiraoi, the little river of Uyoro offers visitors a more rugged, off-the-beaten-track opportunity. The main variety of salmon seen in Japan include masu salmon, pink salmon, giant taimen, and sockeye salmon. The salmon seen during the run might be various kinds, due to the local practice of releasing hatchery juveniles into the wild.
Located in Hokkaido Prefecture, Sapporo was once a dense forest with wildlife that included bears, deer, and wolves until its construction started in 1871. A man named Shima Yoshitake began the city’s development which eventually led to the current North American form it has as a grid-like system layout. Consequently, the northern and southern parts of the city are divided by the main boulevard called O-dori, which runs through the center of the city. Sapporo is known mostly for its beer, beer museum, dairy products, and its annual snow festival every February. One of the oldest standing structures established is the Sapporo Clock Tower, introduced by the North Americans, is now employed as a history museum. Dr. William Clark, a scholar from America, became one of the founders that established educational policies at the Sapporo Agricultural College. Later, this same college became the University of Hokkaido.
Open air museum about Hokkaido.
The Historic Village of Hokkaido is a restored area based of what remained from the Meiji era and Taisho era. It is now an open-air museum with shops, households, and horse-drawn trams that run through the village. It displays various buildings and shops that were once constructed during Hokkaido’s growing development, including 60 different buildings from all over this northern island. It is also a place where many who lost their positions in the Edo Shogunate went to start their lives anew, especially samurai. It is located in the suburbs of Sapporo. It consists residential, mountainous, fishing, and agricultural zones.
Hokkaido Shrine is the most prominent shrine of Sapporo, established by Emperor Meiji in 1971. The shrine is attractive to visit in every season, and is Hokkaido’s guardian shrine.
Hokkaido Shrine, once known as Sapporo Shrine, is located in the city of Sapporo and is one of the most important Shinto shrines in the city. By order of Emperor Meiji, three Shinto kami (deities) were enshrined there– three spirits of protection to guard the island of Hokkaido. After the emperor’s passing, his soul was also enshrined there, adding a fourth protector to the shrine, and it was renamed Hokkaido Shrine. The shrine achieves especial importance and popularity during three important times of the year – spring, for its lovely cherry blossoms; summer, as the heart of the Sapporo Festival; and the New Year, when Japanese attend their yearly hatsumoude – the annual first shrine visit.
Chocolate factory, shop, and museum.
Located in Sapporo, Shiroi Koibito Park is a factory for confectionaries and a theme park. It is known for its white chocolate and its famous souvenir cookies in Hokkaido. There are various indoor and outdoor activities and places to visit. Guests can enter the factory and see how cookies and candy are made by the Shiroi Koibito employees. The factory tours also include a hands-on experience for guests to create and design their own cookies. The park is opened year-round, including its seasonal rose garden, which is said to be at its best during summer seasons.
The symbol of Sapporo.
The Sapporo Clock Tower is a museum and a symbol of Sapporo’s city. Once used as a drill house for physical education and military training for the students in the Agricultural College, it now holds small displays of the origins of Sapporo’s development and local history. The clock itself was bought in 1881 from Boston, Massachusetts. Its appearance now consists of red roofs and white walls that stand out to people passing by this historical monument. It was once the tallest building when it was constructed, but is now overshadowed by the taller business buildings around it.
Pleasant public park in the city center.
Located in the center of Sapporo, running from east to west is Odori Park. It was supposed to be the main street separating Sapporo north from south as a fire break, but now represents the area holding the annual Snow Festival events. It has 92 types of trees and many flowerbeds, enough to attract tourists and locals for a relaxing time in its vicinity. For guests wishing for good views and photographs, there is the Sapporo TV Tower’s observation deck available to the public for a fee. The deck is especially popular during the Snow Festival’s events held every February.
Sapporo's entertainment district.
Nightlife plans for guests in Sapporo might include activities like hitting the pachinko machines, nightclubs, bars, karaoke, and restaurants. If that is the case, it will probably lead them to Sapporo’s biggest entertainment neighborhood, Susukino, which is similar to Shinjuku’s Kabukicho red light district. As such, it should not come as a surprise that expenses might run a little higher here than in other parts of the city. Susukino is one of the sites that hosts the annual Snow Festival held every February in Sapporo. Genghis Khan nabe, or Susukino’s Ramen Yokocho are local foods recommended to all.
Former olympic ski jump stadium.
Home of the Sapporo 1972 Winter Olympics, the Okurayama Ski Jump is a 90 meter high skiing structure that is still used today. Since it is an all- weather structure, it’s still used not only during winter seasons, but summer as well. However, it is not open to the public when there are special events in progress. The public can enter the museum at the bottom of the Okurayama Ski Jump structure. There are also exhibits, documents, and general Olympic Winter Sports information displayed in the museum for guests to enjoy.
Asahi Breweries is one of Japan’s top beer labels, with breweries across Japan.
Asahi Breweries is one of Japan’s largest and most successful beer brands, known for their flagship product, “Asahi Super Dry”; a lager beer that is hugely popular in Japan. The Hokkaido Brewery opened as the largest beer production facility in Sapporo, as well as one of the most memorable, with large silvery beer canisters rising above the production building. The factory churns out over 50,000 kiloliters of beer per year, offering a guided factory tour which includes tasting its signature “Asahi Super Dry”. The restaurants at the brewery serve, in addition to Asahi beer, some of Hokkaido’s signature dishes, including “Genghis Khan” (pronounced Jingisukan), a type of Mongolian barbeque with vegetable and mutton.
Otaru is a small harbor city in Hokkaido near Sapporo. There are various activities in Otaru, including food (especially seafood), sightseeing and shopping. There are many hills, including the very steep slope called Jigoku-Zaka, thus is a popular location for skiing and other sports. Otaru beer is also well known in Hokkaido, places like the Otaru Soko No. 1 Brewery is a popular place for beer lovers. The Otaru Canal is a very popular place for tourist to gather. The Otaru Canal is also one of the locations of the Snow Light Path Festival held every February, where the area is decorated in lights and small snow statues. Tourist can visit the various glass workshops and shop for famous Otaru glassware or even make their glassware. The Music Box Museum is one of the most popular destinations in Otaru, guests can explore the sea of music boxes in this Museum.
Otaru's famous blown glass factory.
The glass made in Otaru is refined and is made in many workshops that also offer hands-on experience for guests who take interest in making their own glassware for a fee. Otaru is located in the prefecture of Hokkaido, neighboring the city of Sapporo. Aside from glass workshops, there are also many cafés, restaurants, and other shops that also allow guests to admire and purchase their artistic glass.
A unique museum about Music Box.
Among the many shops found on Sakaimichi Street is the Otaru Music Box Museum. It not only displays various objects, but also sells a wide range of music boxes, some of which are more elaborate than others; some move and others light up along with their melody. Midst the various types of music boxes are some made from glass, wood, or even traditional Japanese fabric, some are fashioned after sushi or Western-themed concepts. These music boxes also carry different songs according to a collection that the establishment has at their disposable.
Beautiful canal lined by old warehouses.
The Otaru Canal was employed by businesses to transport their merchandise to warehouses with smaller ships since the bigger ships could not directly unload their goods to their destinations. However, eventually there was no use for the smaller vessels when the facilities were modernized, making the use of canals less necessary. Now the area is a tourist attraction, during the day people take leisurely walks about the scenic route where there are museums, restaurants, and shops. Furthermore, Otaru Canal is the main site of the Snow Light Path Festival which is celebrated annually during February as a winter festival.
Otaru is a port city known for fresh sushi, a natural complement to its thriving fishing industry. The Sushi District lines up some of the city’s top restaurants.
Otaru has been a thriving fishing town since the Edo period, when its network of canals allowed for easy unloading of fishing boats. Years later, though the canals are now a local promenade and tourist hotspot, the fishing industry survives, finding fresh appeal by supporting the city’s top sushi restaurants now lining the Otaru Sushi District. A couple of these restaurants have earned Michelin Stars, and some require a reservation in advance. Some of these restaurants are native to Otaru, but many are more widely established, with branch restaurants all over the world. Otaru has over a hundred sushi restaurants scattered throughout the city, offering a broad variety of sushi dishes to choose from. Select sushi, including the shrimp and sea urchin, are praised as Otaru’s finest offerings.
Asahikawa is located north of Sapporo and it is the second largest city in Hokkaido. Asahikawa is mainly used as a transition point for Wakkanai in the north, Biei and Furano to the south and Daisetsuzan National Park to the southeast. The sake from Asahikawa has won many prizes for using the superior Hokkaido rice in the brewing process. Although Asahikawa is not known for being a tourist place, there is still the Asahikawa Zoo, which is one of the best zoos in Japan to visit and is second to Ueno Zoo in Tokyo for visitor attendance. The innovative design of the facility allows visitors to see the animals from numerous angles at a close proximity. There are also places within the city where artisans use the lumber to create a variety of crafts.
Otokoyama, or “Man Mountain” Sake is made at a brewery in Asahikawa, touting the local natural environment as the foundation of its successful label.
The Otokoyama Sake Brewery and Museum provides a variety of information and displays for its guests. Mount Taisetsu produces the water used by Otokoyama to produce sake; it is said that the water from Mount Taisetsu will bring longevity to whomever drinks from its spring waters. Sake tastings are also offered as part of the experiences that this sake brewery can offer to guests. Otokoyama’s sake is not only known throughout all of Japan, but also internationally known; it won its first gold medal in 1977 at the International Wine and Spirits Competition, and has won several awards throughout the years.
Village with eight famous ramen restaurants.
Asahikawa is famous for its ramen. Whereas Sapporo is known for its miso based broth and Hakodate for its salt based broth, Asahikawa is known for its shoyu (soya sauce) based broths. Shops serving shoyu based ramen can be found throughout the city. The broth of Asahikawa Ramen is also known for being quite oily, and there is often a thin layer of oil on top of the soup. Another characteristic of the local ramen is the generally thin, hard and wavy noodles. The range of toppings is quite typical and includes green onions, pork, bamboo shoots and eggs. On the outskirts of the city there is an interesting collection of ramen shops called the Asahikawa Ramen Village. Eight famous ramen restaurants from Asahikawa have opened small branch stores besides one another in the complex alongside a gift shop and a small ramen shrine.
Sounkyo Onsen is located in the northern part of Daisetsuzan National Park. It is the largest hot spring resort in central Hokkaido. The Sounkyo Onsen is the starting point for various mountaineering routes. The resort area has the Sounkyo Ropeway that leads to Kurodake’s, a popular traveling route, midpoint. In addition to that the Sounkyo Onsen resort area is built near the Sounkyo Gorge, which is one of the main attractions in the area. The most beautiful valleys in the gorge are Obako and Kobako. In Obako the rock formations seem to resemble “byobu”, folding screens. Kobako has amazing steep rugged masses of rock that creates beautiful scenery. Within the gorge are two waterfalls that have made it into the top 100 waterfalls in Japan and they are known as Ginga no Taki and Ryusei no Taki.
Two beautiful waterfalls.
Among the various waterfalls found in the Sounkyo region, but the most notable ones are the Ginga and Ryusei Waterfall. Apart from sightseeing, tourists and other visitors usually climb the frozen waterfalls during winter to make their way to the peak atop the then frozen columns of ice. They both flow opposite opposite each other at different angles and appear to fall differently from one another; the Ginga Waterfall produces a more elegant fall with a gentler touch than the Ryusei Waterfall, which produces a more jet-like rush of water crashing down along the side of the cliff.
Kitami is a city in eastern Hokkaido. Travelers come to Kitami to enjoy the drift ice off the coast. The area is also popular with an especially adorable wild animal – the Ezo red fox, or “Kitakitsune”. Kitami is home to the Kitakitsune Farm, which cares for over 50 of these foxes, providing them an open space for them to freely enjoy. Other attractions of Kitami include a large cuckoo clock tower and a few relaxing onsen resorts. Kitami was once a major producer of the Japanese variety of mint, known locally as “hakka”. In fact, over 70% of the world’s supply of this mint used to be supplied by Kitami, before World War 2 converted all the mint farms to produce farms. The city’s mascot is a cute character called “Mint-kun”.
Kitakitsune Farm is a nature preserve which shelters the native Ezo red fox, giving visitors a safe place to come view these adorable creatures.
The Ezo red fox, or “Kitakitsune”, is an animal that is endemic to Hokkaido, an island which was once known to the mainland as “Ezo”. Nature-loving travelers on tour in Hokkaido hope for a glimpse of these adorable foxes, popular for their cute faces and fluffy winter coats. In the city of Kitami, the Kitakitsune Farm cares for around 50 foxes, giving them a safe place for them to roam free. Visitors to the farm can watch them wander without fear of disturbing them, since these foxes are especially comfortable around human guests. The fox is an inseparable part of Shinto mythology, appearing in folklore as spirit tricksters, guides, and even romantic partners. They are especially connected to Inari – the Shinto deity of rice and agriculture – as heavenly messengers, and are represented as stone statues to guard Inari’s shrines.
Abashiri is located on the northeastern coast of Hokkaido. The Sea of Okhotsk, boasts to have one of the three largest fisheries in the world. Abashiri is not only known for its infamous prison, but as an archaeological site of the Okhotsk people also known as Moyoro. There are some food in Abashiri that is a must try specialty. The blue king crab, which can only be caught in Abashiri, is best eaten when the drift ice is gone. The Abashiri Zangi Don is deep fried salmon on a bowl of rice and Abashiri Chanpon is a noodle dish that is a specialty of the area. There is also a variety of seafood you can try that was caught in the surrounding lakes.
Open air museum of the old prison.
The Abashiri Prison Museum opened as an open air museum in 1985. The cold, harsh conditions in Abashiri Prison only made conditions worse for the prisoners as food became scarce while still doing hard labor. There are plenty of displays all over the prison of life-size dummies in uniform to exhibit a tangible understanding of previous work and prison conditions in Abashiri Prison.
Hands-on science center where visitors learn the nature, culture and life of the area.
The Okhotsk Ryuhyo Museum is located at the top of Mount Tento and exhibits materials related to the drift ice that comes to Abashiri. One of the exhibits provides a drift ice experience where you can actually touch the frozen clumps that came from the Sea of Okhotsk. The room is consistently set at -15° Celsius, which is 5° Fahrenheit. There are creatures that appear when the drift ice comes and one of the most popular species is the Cliones. The Cliones are transparent sea slugs that are more known by their nickname sea angels.
Shiretoko is located in the northeastern part of Hokkaido and is designated a Natural World Heritage Site under UNESCO. The Shiretoko National Park is considered one of Japan’s most beautiful and natural national parks. The volcanic mountain range of Shiretoko that runs down the center of the peninsula has the active volcano, Mt. Iou, which erupts great amounts of pure molten sulfur. In Shiretoko there are 4 distinctive seasons that a visitor can see and soak in the pristine wilderness. For example in the fall you can see the mountains adorned in red and yellow leaves with schools of salmon and trout swimming up the river. Then in winter you can witness the Sea of Okhotsk turn into a snowfield with the drifting ice and watch the migration of various birds. At night you can experience a starlit sky while watching animal wildlife.
Shiretoko Five Lakes are a national park on the Shiretoko peninsula – an untouched landscape dotted with clear lakes and mountainous forests.
The Shiretoko Five Lakes, or “Shiretoko Goko” is a national park featuring a ruggedly idyllic series of lakes surrounded by mountains and forests. Impressed on the landscape like the fingerprints of a god, the five lakes provide a gorgeous landscape scene to travelers in any season. Visitors to the area can choose between a number of hiking trails that wind around the lakes, including a raised wooden walkway that leads to an elevated platform. When standing atop this platform, you have an unimpeded view of the lush woodland scene, which might include local wildlife including brown bears, deer, squirrels, birds, and foxes. When taking a hike through the Five Lakes region, signage and park staff warn guests to watch out for the free-roaming brown bears. The park rangers offer an introductory class in park safety for visiting hikers.
Cruise close to Shiretoko's sheer rocky cliffs and observe colonies of sea birds and Brown Bear (World Heritage listed site).
The Shiretoko cruises are usually operational sometime around the month of April until the fall season. These cruises are capable of taking its passengers on the western coast of the Shiretoko Peninsula all the way to the Shiretoko’s cape. Views include the scenery given by the tall cliffs with waterfalls and sea caves in a panoramic setting. There are many views that one can see and photograph or record along the coast that cannot be experienced on land up close.
Furepe Falls is a delicate waterfall in Hokkaido that locals call “the maiden’s tears”, where visitors can find an inspiring view of the Sea of Okhotsk.
Furepe is a pretty waterfall located on the Shiretoko Peninsula in Hokkaido. Roughly translating to “maiden’s tears” in Japanese, Furepe Falls gives off an atmosphere of gentle delicacy; you won’t hear a loud rushing sound as you approach the observation area, nor see a tremendous gushing of river water. The source of the falls comes from local groundwater emerging from the top of the cliff, cascading over the cliff face in crisscross patterns, gently gliding into the Sea of Okhotsk. Many visitors come expressly for the view from the observation area – an inspiring view of rocky green coastline stretching out into an unending sea. Furepe Falls is located in the gorgeous wilderness of Shiretoko, and some travelers choose to hike through forest trails to reach the falls. Due to the region’s untouched beauty, many hold the hike up to the falls to be an essential and memorable part of the overall experience.
The national park was formed long ago by intense volcanic activities, which created the three ancient calderas that we know as Lake Akan, Lake Kussharo and Lake Akan. These lakes are also famous for their crystal clear water, which Lake Mashu ranks as one of the clearest in the world. Akan National Park can be broken into two sections, Akan and Kawayu areas. There are a few observatories people can go to that provide amazing views of the Akan area. Lake Mashu boasts the clearest water in the world even though there is no river or outlet for the liquid. It is said that when the lake is viewed at different times in the year or day, the blue color of water changes to different hues. This can be seen from the multiple observatories surrounding Lake Mashu.
Beautiful crater lake famous for marimo algae.
Lake Mashu is located in the Akan National Park and is known for having the clearest water in the world. The lake’s water is ranked as one of the clearest in the world. The color of the water in the lake is referred to as Mashu blue. Lake Mashu is covered in fog for a good portion of the year earning the nickname Foggy Lake Mashu. The urban legend claims that the fog is there to conceal the kamui (god) while they swim.
Lake Akan is a beautiful lake in the Akan Mashu National Park, noted for its scenery, local hot springs, and marimo algae.
Lake Akan is one of the most popular lakes in the Akan- Mashu National Park. The lake is the habitat of marimo algae, which grows in large, fluffy green balls. Some of them can grow to be a big as a soccer ball! Visitors come to the lake to stay at a hot spring ryokan in Akanko Onsen, climb to the top of Mount Oakan for an impressive view, and cruise around the lake in a sightseeing boat. Many of these boats stop at an island in the middle of the lake, where they have an informative museum devoted to studying marimo algae. In winter, the surface of the lake freezes over and allows for ice fishing. In March and April, the ice becomes thin enough to allow ice-breaker cruises, with ships cracking through the drifting surface ice. On still nights, when the temperature reaches -15 degrees Celsius, the fog freezes to the surface of the lake, creating delicate “frost flowers”.
A cruise around Lake Akan is the best way to enjoy the tranquil Hokkaido landscape, and maybe spot some local wildlife.
Lake Akan is a clear lake located within the Akan-Mashu National Park in Hokkaido. This lake is one of Hokkaido’s natural treasures, and travelers come at all times of the year to admire the gorgeous scenery. A summer cruise around the lake offers travelers the opportunity to see the natural surroundings of Lake Akan at one of its best times. Surrounding the lake are lush forests of various green trees including fir, spruce, oak, and linden, below tall Mount Oakan. One may be lucky enough to spy Yezo deer or the Ezo red fox peeking out from under the branches. Lake Akan is famous as the protected habitat of marimo algae, which grow in fluffy green balls the size of a volleyball. Some cruises stop at the Marimo Observatory where visitors can observe this rare wonder of nature.
Near Lake Akan, travelers will find the Ainu Kotan – a street lined with buildings suggesting an Ainu settlement, including an Ainu Museum.
The Lake Akan Ainu Kotan is a traditional Ainu village beside Lake Akan in Hokkaido. Kotan means “settlement” in the native language of the Ainu, and this Kotan is Hokkaido’s largest Ainu village. The village reflects ancient Ainu culture and spirituality, which respected much of the natural world, including various animals, as “kamuy” or “powerful spirits”. This belief led to a reverence for nature displayed in art, music, dance, and other elements of Ainu life. A special part of this heritage is a ceremonial dance that is often performed in the community. Additionally, a small museum full of Ainu implements and other native items is a popular attraction among visiting travelers. The Ainu people have lived in Hokkaido since before the Yamato (Japanese) first traveled there, and although they have been largely assimilated into Japanese society, they still some small communities where their way of life lives on.
The Akan International Crane Center is a museum, breeding center, and sanctuary where cranes can be seen year round.
The red-crowned crane is so important and rare a fowl that it has its own recognized international center located in the city of Kushiro, Hokkaido. This bird is even said to be a harbinger of good luck in general Japanese beliefs, even the indigenous people of Hokkaido said that they were marsh gods of the land. Within the Akan International Crane Center’s vicinity also holds a museum displaying information about the ecosystem and the crane’s life, a crane sanctuary, a breeding center, and also a feeding ground.
Marshlands populated by Japanese cranes.
The first marshland internationally sanctioned for habitat protection in Japan is the Kushiro Marshlands in 1987, when it was made into a national park. One of the main features of these wetlands is birdwatching where the rare red-crowned crane is among the most favorites to see. This endangered species is unique to Japan and was once thought to have been extinct because of the destruction of the land and due to excess hunting of their kind. Now, the cranes can be seen in every season of the year in the marshlands where they reside.
Where you will see a variety of fresh seafoods and vegetables.
The Kushiro Washo Market (Kushiro Washo Ichiba) opened in 1949 a short distance from Kushiro Station and is one of the three big markets that can be found in Hokkaido. There are about 60 stalls selling fresh seafood, dried products, meat and vegetables. A popular meal at the market is "Kattedon", a donburi dish where diners can personalize their rice bowl with seafood bought from the vendors.
Chitose (Day 1)
Western Style Accommodation
Located just a five minute walk from JR Chitoise station and a 10 minute drive from the airport, the hotel offers guests comfort and convenience. The in- house restaurant serves up traditional Japanese dishes. However, if you are in the mood for other cuisines, just step out of the hotel and you will find numerous restaurants and bars where you can indulge with your favorite cuisine or drink.
Sapporo (Day 2, Day 3 & Day 4)
Western Style Accommodation
This modern luxury hotel and resort, situated in the northernmost major city of Japan, is a landmark for opulence and leisure. Guests will enjoy a location that is just a short walk from the Sapporo Subway Station and an additional six minutes from the JR Sapporo Station. ANA Crowne Plaza Sapporo is an ideal choice for guests who want a central location close to public transport links and a vast selection of on- site facilities as well as first class professional service.
Sounkyo Onsen (Day 5)
Japanese Style Accommodation
This authentic Japanese style hotel may accomodate up to 1,000 people, with many public spaces for guests to enjoy. The lobby has a stage with a tea house. There is a observatory hot- bath on the top floor. It is an ideal facility for relaxing.
Utoro Onsen (Day 6)
Western Style Accommodation
Shiretoko Grand Hotel "Kita Kobushi" is a large scale Japanese-style hot-springs resort at Shiretoko Utoro Onsen. The hotel is facing the harbor with splendid views of the Sea of Okhotsk. The open-air bath on the top floor provides the beautiful scene of sunset. It is one of the Top Hundred Ryokan (Japanese-style hotel) elected by the Ryoko Shimbun travel newspaper.
Lake Akan (Day 7)
Japanese Style Accommodation
New Akan Hotel is a modern resort hotel facing to the Lake Akan. There are large observatory baths and observatory open-air hot spring bath at the top floor. Guests can see the beautiful Lake Akan and the scenery which is beautiful throughout the year.
Kushiro (Day 8)
Western Style Accommodation
Lying adjacent to the Kushiro's Fisherman's Wharf, the ANA Crowne Plaza Hotel Kushiro is the largest hotel in its area and a favorite amongst many who visit the city on the east coast of Hokkaido. A stay promises a memorable experience with the high quality of service and elegance that is synonymous with the ANA chain of hotels.
PLEASE NOTE: These are the hotels All Japan Tours generally uses on the touring styles and regions shown. There is no guarantee that you will stay in the lodgings listed on the website. We encourage you to check your travel documentation for confirmation of the exact accommodation you will be staying in.