Hokkaido’s Off The Beaten Path For Outdoor Lovers

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Tags: autumnleavesdestinationsflowershokkaido

Known as the second largest island of Japan, Hokkaido is one of the popular Japanese tourist destinations for Malaysians and many other travelers. Most of the first time visitor will probably head to places like Sapporo, Otaru and even Niseko during the year end winter season.

But for anyone who is going during other seasons, and want to see some of the best places that offer an incredible outdoor experience, here are some places that you may want to consider when you visit Hokkaido. Depending on what season you visit Hokkaido, there will be one special place for you to visit in this article.

Spring Places To Visit In Hokkaido

A beautiful carpet for pink flowers at the Moss Pink Park. Photo Wikipedia.

Higashimokoto Moss Pink Park

At Ozora Town, you can find a park that is literally covered in a pink carpet of flowers, which is actually a pink moss phlox flower. An area of 8 hectares or 20 acres is dedicated to this beautiful park, which is also shared by two other stunning parks called Takinoue Shibazakura Park and Kamiyubetsu Tulip Park.

The incredible feat about this park is that it was entirely planted and landscaped by one single Japanese farmer named Suekichi Nakahachi in 1977. The story goes as the flower loving farmer was specifically asked by the local council to create a beautiful place for the local and visitors to this part of Hokkaido. He is also grew the flowers and planted them one by one until 1991.

Beautiful magenta pink flowers at the Higashimokoto Park.

Sadly, Nakahachi-san passed away in 2009, and his incredible legacy of the moss pink park lives on till today, and is one of the most visited parks in Japan.

Higashimokoto Moss Pink Park

Address: 393, Suehiro, Higashimokoto, Ozora-cho Abashiri-gun, Hokkaido

When To Visit: April to June

Admission: Varies from ¥500 per person

Website: http://www.shibazakura.net/

How To Get Here:

By Train or Bus: Take the Abashiri Kanko Kotsu bus for about 50 minutes from JR Abashiri Station. Next, take a taxi for about 5 to 6 minutes from Ozora-cho Higashimokoto.

Car Rental: You can also rent a car from around ¥10,000 and it is a 30 minute scenic drive from the Abashiri Station.

From Sapporo: There are direct trains from Sapporo to Abashiri which is about 5 to 6 hours journey.


Summer Places To Visit In Hokkaido

The famous seven trees at Marchen Hill. Photo Wikipedia.

Marchen Hill Ozora

Known as Marchen-no-Oka Memambetsu, Marchen Hill is the famous location where Akira Kurosawa filmed one of his movies called Dreams here in 1990. Thousands of Japanese have come here to get that epic photograph of the seven trees in a field of barley during the summer and also in the winter when the fields are entirely covered in snow.

The seven Japanese Larch Trees are the main attraction along highway 39, on route to Abashiri. The best photographs are all taken in the summer when the contrast of blue skies against the green barley fields with the seven trees creating a beautiful landscape photo.

Four of the seven trees at Marchen Hill.

This destination is more suitable for the creative traveler or explorer who wants to photograph and see a different side of Hokkaido. But there are some tours that travel all over Hokkaido that make stops here.

Marchen Hill

Address: Abashiri-gun, Omori-machi, Showa 96, Showa 1, Hokkaido

When To Visit: June to August

Website: None

How To Get Here: From Abashiri Station, it is a 25 minute bus ride to Marchen Hill, and from Memanbetsu Airport, it is a 15 minute bus ride with the airport limousine. You are probably better off renting a car to explore this beautiful area on your own.

Hokkaido’s famous Blue Pond. CC0.

The Blue Pond

One of the spectacular landscapes to experience in the summer is the amazing Blue Pond of Biei Town in Hokkaido. During the summer, a lot of local Japanese will visit this pond to capture its natural beauty with withered trees sticking our of the blue colored waters here.

This beautiful scenery can be seen particularly when there is no wind and no rain under a clear sky, and these conditions are best experienced during the summer. While Biei is located about 30 minutes from Furano, another beautiful area, most visitors tend to travel to both places to the stunning landscapes in the summer period.

The Blue Pond

Address: Shirogane, Biei-cho, Kamikawa-gun, Hokkaido

When To Visit: June to August

How To Get Here: 25 minutes drive by car from JR Biei Station. There are special tours in the summer that take you here.


Autumn Places To Visit In Hokkaido

The Crimson Red Coral Grass of Lake Notoro. Photo Wikipedia.

Lake Notoro Red Coral Grass

In the northeast part of Hokkaido Island, you will find Lake Notoro, which is a huge saltwater lake near Abashiri City. Visitors come here in September to experience the unique crimson red coral grass that covers parts of the entire lake, which is around four hectares in size.

Lake Notoro turns completely red between early September to early October, and the best time of the year to see this phenomenon is from the middle to late September. During other months, the coral grass is green in color. Also, you should visit when the tide is out as you will see the full effect. If the tide is in, half of the coral grass will be underwater.

Visitors taking photos of the Red Coral at Lake Notoro.

This place is remote and totally off the beaten path, so it is perfect for those traveling to explore by backpacking or flash packing. It is not your regular tourist place like Sapporo and so on, therefore please take note.

Lake Notoro

Address: 60-3, Ubaranai, Abashiri-shi, Hokkaido

Best Time To Visit: Last two weeks of September

Website:

How To Get Here: From JR Abashiri station, take the bus heading towards Tokoro, and get off at “Notori fishing port” (10 min. ride.) The lake is at a 20 minute walk from the bus stop. If you rent a car, it will take you only 10 to 15 minutes drive one way, and you can also explore other parts of this area.

The Mount Moiwa cable car going up. Photo Daniel Betts on Flickr.

Mount Moiwa

Among some of the most popular places in the autumn to visit is Mount Moiwa in Sapporo. For the lazy tourist, there is a cable car system that takes you all the way to the top of the mountain where you will find a French fusion restaurant and simply astounding views of Sapporo City.

But the best experience for the pure nature lovers is by hiking up the trails as you will enjoy the leaf changing of autumn along your way up. The hike is also not difficult, and easy for experienced trekkers.

View from the peak of Mount Moiwa.

Maps are provided and be sure to keep an eye out for the many birds and small wildlife along your trek. You can trek up and then take the cable car down for an overall experience of Mount Moiwa.

Mount Moiwa

Address: Fushimi 5-chome 3-7, Chuo-ku, Sapporo

When To Visit: September till Feb, but anytime is also fine

Website: http://moiwa.sapporo-dc.co.jp/

How To Go: Take the Sapporo Streetcar to Ropeway Iriguchi Station. Then take the free shuttle bus or you can walk five minutes to the lower ropeway station.


Winter Places To Visit In Hokkaido

Chunks of ice that resemble crystals seen on the beach of Otsu. Photo SlowLifeHokkaido.

Jewelry Ice

A very special and unique experience to visit in Hokkaido is called Jewelry ice, and this is probably one of the most strange phenomenon that takes place at the shores of Toyokoro Town. The jewelry ice comes from the Tokachi River where lumps of frozen ice flows into the open sea, and is washed up on the shores of Otsu near the town. The look like giant polished and unpolished gemstones that are littered along the shores here.

This attraction during the peak of winter has attracted many photographers and other visitors as it is a one-of-a-kind experience. Some of the ice jewelry are incredibly beautiful, like large uncut diamonds that provide a beautiful photo moment.

A clump of jewelry ice from Otsu beach.

The best times are also said to be early in the mornings or just before sunset. For those coming here in the middle of winter, take note that the temperature can drop to minus 25 degrees, so please be well prepared or you will freeze out at the coast.

Jewelry Ice

Address: Otsu Motomachi, Toyokoro, Nakagawa District, Hokkaido 089-5461, Japan

When To Visit: Mid January to Mid February

Website: None

How To Get Here: From Toyokoro Town, it takes about 40 minutes drive to the Otsu-gawa shores. There is no public transport but there are special tours available for this. Or you can rent a car and self drive here.

The crystal clear blue waters of Kaminoko Pond. Photo by AKYamada on Flickr.

Kaminoko Pond

Over in the north east part of Hokkaido, you will find the unique crystal blue pond called Kaminoko Pond which is near Kiyosato Town. This small pond is around 220 meters and only five meters deep, which is extremely crystal clear and in blue color, and called Child of God’s Pond by the locals.

In the winter, the water color is deep indigo blue and when it comes to spring, the water turns bright cobalt blue after being exposed to the strong sunlight. A species of fish found in the cold regions called Dolly Varden Trout is also spotted in this beautiful pond too.

There is toilet and parking facilities available near the pond that has shrouded people with a local legend and myth too. Several visitors have also expressed caution not to stray away as there are local Japanese bears that live in the forest nearby. So, visit the pond and that is all, do not explore further.

Kaminoko Blue Pond

Address: Kiyoizumi, Kiyosato-cho Shari-gun, Hokkaido

Best Time To Visit: Winter and Spring

Website: http://www.town.kiyosato.hokkaido.jp/kankou/kaminokoike.html

How To Get Here: From Kiyosato Town, it is a 20 minutes drive by car along the Hokkaido Prefectural Road Route 115. Look for the sign for Kaminoko Pond along the Hatoi forest road. The pond is located about 2 km from there.


Most Popular Place To Visit All Year In Hokkaido

The rainbow colors of Tomita Farm in Furano. Photo Flickr Pika1935.

Furano

One of the most popular outdoor and nature places in Hokkaido is the Furano area that is located in the Tokachidake mountain range in the middle of Hokkaido. Throughout the year, anyone visiting this place will be rewarded with spectacular mountain landscapes.

Although many people love to come here in the Summer for the myriad of colors on the hill, one of the best times is also during July, when the lavender fields are in full bloom. Many visitors are seen taking advantage of this place by cycling or trekking around the Furano Flower Fields. During the wintertime, snow covers most of the national park here, and Furano becomes a popular ski destination combined with picturesque destination.

The beautiful Tomita Farm in Furano. Photo Wikipedia.

Apart from the outdoors and beautiful landscapes in Furano, you can also find a cheese factory and a local Japanese winery around Furano. This serves as a destination where many things can be seen and done here. Notable places to visit include Farm Tomita and Flower Land Kamifurano.

Furano

Address: 〒071-0704 Hokkaido, Sorachi-gun, Nakafurano-chō, Japan

Best Time To Visit: Autumn and Winter

Website: http://www.city.furano.hokkaido.jp/

How To Get Here: From Sapporo, it is a two hour drive to Furano town, and a two hour thirty minute drive to Biei town. From Furano to Biei, it is a 45 minute drive. The best way to explore this place is to rent a car and self drive here for a day trip or even an overnight trip.

 

David Hogan Jr
David Hogan Jr
A multiple award-winning travel writer, blogger and social media enthusiast. He has been traveling to Japan since 1990 and all over the world for his work. His work has been featured on CNN Travel, Yahoo Travel, Lonely Planet and many other publications. David writes at: http://malaysia-asia.my and is on social media platforms as @MalaysiaAsia

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