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Hokkaido

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Hokkaido

Hokkaido is the second largest island in Japan. It is located in the northernmost part of the country. Even though it holds 22% of the nation’s land mass only about 5% of the population lives in the area. Hokkaido is the center for raising livestock, fishing, agriculture and forestry in Japan. The longest undersea tunnel in the world, which connects Honshu to Hokkaido, was completed in 1985 by the Hokkaido Railway Co. and began operations in 1988. During the winter there is heavy snowfall with temperatures reaching below zero and the seas around the area become frozen. However, in the summer time it does not get humid and hot like other parts of Japan. Since Hokkaido is not developed as much as other places in the country, it attracts more outdoor lovers because of its untampered nature. The colder seasons bring in the skiers and snowboarders, while the warmer seasons bring in hikers and campers.

The Ainu are the indigenous people of Hokkaido and it is said that they are descendants of the Emishi in Watarishima. Back in the day, during the Nara and Heian periods, the people of Hokkaido were referred to as Ezo since the name of the land used to be Ezochi. The name changed during the Meiji Restoration to Hokkaido (北海道), which can translate to North Sea Path. Since Hokkaido was close to Russia, the government feared an invasion and wanted to develop the area as quickly as possible as a defense. This is when the Meiji government encouraged the Japanese of Tohoku to migrate north and pioneer the land. The Hokkaido Development Commission, Kaitakushi, put Kuroda Kiyotaka in charge of recruiting people to help develop their agriculture. He first recruited Horace Capron; President Grant’s Commission of Agriculture, in 1871, but found it difficult to apply western agriculture and mining then left in 1875. William S. Clark replaced him and founded the agricultural college in Sapporo, which later became Hokkaido University. Even though he was there only for 8 months he left an impression on the students with his teachings in agriculture and Christianity. His parting words of “Boys, be ambitious!” can be found on the monument dedicated to him and on various public buildings.

Hokkaido

Top Destinations in Hokkaido

photo of Sapporo

Hokkaido

Sapporo

Known for its snow festival, the city serves as the capital and executive center of Hokkaido.

photo of Otaru

Hokkaido

Otaru

A romantic port town famous for its canal, glass workshops, and music box museum.

photo of Jozankei

Hokkaido

Jozankei

A small town 60 minutes away from Sapporo by car; known for their hot springs (onsen).

photo of Lake Shikotsu

Hokkaido

Lake Shikotsu

Lake Shikotsu is Japan’s most northern lake that does not freeze over and is the second deepest.

photo of Noboribetsu

Hokkaido

Noboribetsu

Located in the southwestern part of Hokkaido, known for its various hot springs (onsen).

photo of Niseko

Hokkaido

Niseko

A popular tourist area for outdoor activities mainly in winter because of their high quality snow.

photo of Lake Toya

Hokkaido

Lake Toya

Lake Toya is located 60 km southwest of Sapporo in the Shikotsu-Toya National Park.

photo of Onuma Park

Hokkaido

Onuma Park

Onuma Park is a quasi-national park, which surrounds the volcano Mount Komagatake.

photo of Hakodate

Hokkaido

Hakodate

Hakodate is a city and port in the Oshima Sub prefecture and is the third largest city in Hokkaido.

photo of Matsumae

Hokkaido

Matsumae

At the southern tip of the Oshima-hanto Peninsula, juts into the Tsugaru Strait.

photo of Rishiri and Rebun Islands

Hokkaido

Rishiri and Rebun Islands

Small islands by the northern tip of Hokkaido, part of the Rishiri-Rebun-Sarobetsu National Park.

photo of Asahikawa

Hokkaido

Asahikawa

Second largest city in Hokkaido; known as a place where artisans can showcase their work.

photo of Furano

Hokkaido

Furano

Furano is famous for flower fields filled with lavender in the summer and ski resorts in the winter.

photo of Biei

Hokkaido

Biei

Landscape photographer Shinzo Maeda who showcased the area in his photo books.

photo of Sounkyo

Hokkaido

Sounkyo

Located in the northern part of Daisetsuzan National Park in a narrow gorge with 100m cliffs.

photo of Monbetsu

Hokkaido

Monbetsu

Located in northeast Hokkaido. In winter, drift ice comes down all the way from the Sea of Okhotsk.

photo of Abashiri

Hokkaido

Abashiri

Located in the Okhotsk Subprefecture and is home of the famous Abashiri Prison.

photo of Lake Tofutsu

Hokkaido

Lake Tofutsu

Lake Tofutsu was designated as a registered wetland by the Ramsar Convention.

photo of Shiretoko

Hokkaido

Shiretoko

In the northeastern part of Hokkaido; designated a UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site.

photo of Akan National Park

Hokkaido

Akan National Park

Japan’s second national park, established in 1934.

photo of Rausu

Hokkaido

Rausu

Rausu is the largest town in the Shiretoko Peninsula and is located in the southern half of the area.

photo of Kushiro

Hokkaido

Kushiro

Kushiro is located on the eastern part of Hokkaido and is known for being bordered by the Kushiro Wetland.

photo of Tomamu

Hokkaido

Tomamu

Tomamu is located in the eastern part of Shimukappu village and it is where the famous Hoshino Resort Tomamu is situated.