Most travellers to Japan would be familiar with Hokkaido and namely for its winter attractions, which attracts many tourists from all over the world. However, the winter season in Hokkaido can become a little overcrowded, and at times, there are those who would prefer to avoid the winter crowds.
Fear not as if you have been thinking of going to Hokkaido during any other season besides winter, you are in luck as this article will shed some information about what can you do in Hokkaido when it is not winter. And you will be surprised to know that there are a lot of places to visit and other non-winter experiences waiting for you.
This list is in no order and randomly selected to cater to all kinds of travellers ranging from solo, couples, groups, seniors and also families. Note that in Japan, Spring is from mid-March to mid-June, Summer is from late June to late September and Autumn is late September to just before Christmas.
Things To Do in Hokkaido When It’s not Winter Time
The beautiful colours of Farm Tomita. Photo Farm Tomita.
Visit the Famous Tomita Farm
This is hands down one of the most beautiful attractions during the summer season in Hokkaido, and Farm Tomita attracts many flower and garden lovers from around Japan and also around the world. Farm Tomita has been around since 1903 and remains as one of the most beautiful flower farms in the world.
Many visitors usually start coming here in early summer, but the mid of summer is the peak when all the lavender fields are in full bloom. One of the must-try things here is no other than the signature lavender gelato ice cream, which is incredibly amazing.
Lavender fields at the Tomita Farm in Hokkaido. Photo Farm Tomita.
The lavender farms are only a two-hour drive from Sapporo city, and usually can be done with various tours or you can take public transport here. I recommend renting a car to self-drive here in order to see the beautiful countryside.
Address: 15, Kisenkita, Nakafurano, Sorachi District, Hokkaido 071-0704, Japan
Tel: +81 167-39-3939
Hours: 10.00 AM to 4.30 PM
The stunning scenery at the Blue Pond of Shirogane. Photo Wikipedia.
Admire the Incredible Beauty of the Shirogane Blue Pond
If you are renting a car and self-driving around Hokkaido, the Shirogane Blue Pond is not to be missed during the summertime as it is noted to be one of the most beautiful natural ponds in Japan.
Though many people come here in the winter and other times, it is the summer season when you can get the best experience of this pond. If you miss the summer season, early fall is also a good time to come here.
Just so you know, this attraction is a very outdoor and nature place, hence you will not be seeing souvenir shops, public restrooms, cafes or restaurants around here. Most visitors will spend around 15 to 30 minutes, mainly taking photographs and admiring the sheer beauty of the landscape.
The Shirogane Blue Pond at night. Photo Wikipedia.
To get here from Sapporo, it takes about three hours to drive, hence best to plan this as a stopover to other places you are visiting. Best time to visit the Shirogane Blue Pond is also during the afternoon, and make sure it is a clear and sunny day.
Shirogane Blue Pond
Address: Shirogane, Biei, Kamikawa District, Hokkaido 071-0235, Japan
Tel: +81 166-94-3355
Open: 24 hours
The beautiful Sapporo Beer Museum building.
Visit the Sapporo Beer Museum
Noted to be the only beer museum in Japan, the Sapporo Beer Museum building has been around for more than 100 years, and is the oldest beer brand in all of Japan. To be exact, Sapporo has a history dating back to 143 years old, followed by Kirin which is 134 years old and Asahi which is 130 years old.
Originally, the brand Sapporo was established in 1876, and later, the Sapporo Sugar Company built this beautiful building in 1890 to capitalize on the sugar trade. But in 1903, the beer company took over and turned this into the Sapporo Brewery. After over a century of business, the building was finally turned into the Sapporo Beer Museum in 1987.
Visitors can taste various beers inside the museum.
If you are a beer lover, namely Japanese beer, then this is one place you should visit. The museum comprises of three floors and is free admission. For drinkers, there is a museum bar where you can sample different types of Sapporo beer, while on the first floor there is a restaurant and also a souvenir shop. A beer garden and shopping mall are also connected to this museum, hence one can easily spend a couple of hours here.
Sapporo Beer Museum
Address: 9 Chome-1-1 Kita 7 Johigashi, Sapporo, Hokkaido 065-8633, Japan
Tel: +81 11-748-1876
Hours: 11.00 AM to 8.00 PM
Close: Every Monday
Website: Sapporo Beer Museum
A penguin swimming at the enclosure of the Asahiyama Zoo. Photo Saname777 on Flickr CC 2.0.
Visiting the Unique Asahiyama Zoo
In all of Hokkaido, there is one unique and special zoo called the Asahiyama Zoo. It is not a very large zoo, but the multiple winter animal attractions here keep visitors coming and spending time without having to get tired of walking. Overall, two to three hours is more than enough time to spend here.
Animal displays are close by, making it easy to see them, and some of them are extremely close which can be up to less than a meter. This is awesome especially if you are travelling with kids. Among the animals here, there are also the famous Snow Owls from the Harry Potter movie, giraffes, panda bears, hippopotamus, polar bears, and even primates.
A polar bear in the aquarium of the zoo.
Overall, many have claimed that the Asahiyama Zoo is one of the best zoos in the world, due to the close proximity of the animal displays and the ease of exploring the zoo that comes with a very unique collection of animals, which are all well-cared for.
In total, there are 30 animal enclosures found here, which includes a mini aquarium. The zoo is open throughout the year and can be visited anytime. You can get here via train, bus or self-drive.
Address: Kuranuma Higashiasahikawacho, Asahikawa, Hokkaido 078-8205, Japan
Tel: +81 166-36-1104
Hours: 9.30 AM to 5.15 PM
Tickets: Adult ¥820, Child ¥590
Website: Asahiyama Zoo
Items on display at the Hokkaido Museum. Photo Hokkaido Museum.
Visit the Hokkaido Museum
For museum lovers, the Hokkaido Museum is definitely a place not to miss when you are here any time of the year. Museums are always overlooked by many due to the fact that they are at times boring, but this museum is quite interesting as it provides you with the history of Hokkaido, and also about the Ainu people, which are the indigenous people of Hokkaido.
The basement section of this museum holds an interactive area where kids and adults can have real-time experience with traditional Ainu items by holding and playing with them. Overall, this museum is the best place to learn everything about Hokkaido and Ainu people. English is available and one can easily spend around one to two hours here.
Address: 53-2 Atsubetsucho, Atsubetsu Ward, Sapporo, Hokkaido 004-0006, Japan
Tel: +81 11-898-0466
Hours: 9.30 AM to 4.30 PM
Close: Every Monday
The entrance to the Salmon Chitose Aquarium. Photo Chitose Aquarium.
Indulge at the Salmon Hometown Chitose Aquarium
Aquariums in Japan have always been a popular tourist place to visit, and all of them are massive, which focuses on marine life. However, in Chitose of Hokkaido, there is one unique aquarium that focuses on Salmon and other freshwater fishes.
This small and unique aquarium highlights both information and also interactive activities for visitors, and many who come here end up leaving with a wealth of knowledge about salmon. The museum is also known to be one-of-a-kind in Japan and is recommended visiting, especially if you are a salmon lover.
One of the salmon fish at the aquarium. Photo Wikipedia.
In total, there are nine sections to this aquarium with the Salmon Zone being the most popular here. There is an Underwater observation zone, a hands-on zone, freshwater fish zone, Lake Shikotsu zone and the learning zone for kids.
Most visitors will spend at least one to two hours here, and it is only a one-hour drive from Sapporo city. There are buses, but the easiest way is to take the Chitose Line train which is only 40 minutes one way.
Salmon Hometown Chitose Aquarium
Address: 2 Chome-4-312 Hanasono, Chitose, Hokkaido 066-0028, Japan
Tel: +81 123-42-3001
Hours: 9.00 AM to 5.00 PM
Tickets: Adults ¥800, Child ¥500, Kids ¥300