Articles Real Estate Information Top 10 places in Hokkaido recommended by local travel websites

Top 10 places in Hokkaido recommended by local travel websites

Hokkaido offers unique and captivating experiences, with its beautiful landscapes, pleasant weather, and various outdoor activities to explore and enjoy.

What comes to your mind when you hear the word “Hokkaido”? It will most likely be something related to snow or winter. Indeed, Hokkaido is known for its powder snow by both locals and international tourists. But what about summer? Actually, Hokkaido in summer is also filled with its charms.

But when you google “summer in Hokkaido”, there are thousands of recommendations coming up. Feel inundated? Do not worry. PropertyAccess has made a ranking of places in terms of the number of recommendations by 10 local travel websites. This article tells you the most popular places to visit in Hokkaido in summer without having to do site-hopping.

Summer in Hokkaido

But before going to the ranking, let’s have a quick look at the weather. Starting in June with the rainy season to the scorching hot August, summer in Japan is usually the toughest season of the year. However, located in the north of Japan, Hokkaido enjoys lower temperatures compared to the major cities in Honshu (main island) like Tokyo or Osaka.

Also, thanks to its location, Hokkaido is said to have no rainy season or typhoons. Like we saw in our previous articles, the rainy season is attributable to the seasonal rain front formed over Japan, but the front does not usually move up north to Hokkaido and since the typhoons are generated in the warm waters, they lose strength as they approach Hokkaido. Although, in fact, there are cloudy or rainy days in Hokkaido while the Honshu is experiencing rains (this phenomenon is called “Ezo-Tsuyu”), but we can say Hokkaido is less affected by the rainy season.

Top 10 recommendations by local websites

9-tie   Shiretoko (知床) [5 recommendations/10 websites] MAP-③

Shiretoko is the only site in Hokkaido that is registered as a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site in recognition of the dynamic food chain that begins with Okhotsk Sea drift ice and its plankton, the fish that thrive on it, birds, mammals, forests and soil. Shiretoko-goko Lakes and Rausu Lake are popular spots for hiking/trekking (depending on the timing of the year, you are required to join a guided tour, as you will be walking where brown bears live), or walking up the stream of Kamuy-wakka Hot Waterfall (limited to the period from July 1 to October 1 and booking required). You need to do an instagramable picture stop at Tenni-tsuzuku-michi (translated as Road to the Sky), a 28km long straight road that looks like continuing to the sky.

9-tie   Otaru Canal (小樽運河) [5/10] MAP-①

Completed in 1923, Otaru Canal is characterized by its gently curved shape, because it was made reclaiming land along the coast. After finishing its important role for the transport of goods, part of the canal was reclaimed to develop a promenade and landscaped gardens and warehouses were turned into restaurants and other facilities to welcome visitors.

5-tie   Rishiri Rebun Sarobetsu National Park (利尻礼文サロベツ国立公園) [6/10] MAP-⑤

This is the northmost national park in Japan, covering Rishiri Island and part of Rebun Island. You can take a ferry from Wakkanai that runs three times a day in summer, or just fly in from Sapporo to Rishiri Island. The main attraction is Mt. Rishiri, chosen as one of the One Hundred Mountains of Japan. This is also known as Rishiri Fuji, as the beautiful shape of the mountain reminds us of Mt. Fuji. The neighboring Rebun Island, known as the “Floating Island of Flowers”, is home to more than 300 varieties of alpine plants that bloom in summer.  If you visit this area, you cannot forget to buy their specialties, Rishiri Kombu (kelp) and sea urchin!

5-tie   Cape Kamui (神威岬) [6/10] MAP-①

Cape Kamui is located on the western part of Shakotan Peninsula, jutting out into the Sea of Japan. From the parking lot to the tip of the cape is a 20-minute walk that offers spectacular views of the cape and the cobalt blue ocean also known as “Shakotan Blue”. It is said that the 300-degree panoramic view from the cape lets you see that the horizon is slightly curved, making you realize that the Earth is round!

5-tie   Lake Toya (洞爺湖) [6/10] MAP-①

Lake Tōya is the third largest volcanic caldera lake in Japan that is situated in Shikotsu-Toya National Park. In addition to the lake itself, known for its almost perfectly round shape, and the active volcanos Mt. Usu and Showa Shinzan, a volcanic lava dome formed in 1944 triggered by the eruption of Mt. Usu create a dynamic scenery. Stay at one of the hot spring (onsen) resorts at the lakeside and enjoy the fireworks festival that is running from April 28 to October 31, 2023, 20:45 to 21:05 every day (except in severe weather conditions).

5-tie   Shikisai-no-Oka (四季彩の丘) [6/10] MAP-②

Shikisai-no-oka is a 7-hectare flower field that spreads over the hill of picturesque Biei Town. From late April to late October, you can enjoy different kinds of colorful flowers in season. Opening hours differ depending on the month when you visit but from June to September, the farm opens from 8:40 to 17:30 (Alpaca Ranch closes 30 minutes earlier). You can also catch a ride on Norokko (tractor bus) (runs every 15 minutes) around the field or rent a 4-seater cart (the driver needs to have a driver’s license) to best enjoy the scenery.

4   Asahiyama Zoo (旭山動物園) [7/10] MAP-②

Asahiyama Zoo is a very popular zoological garden just outside of central Asahikawa City. The zoo features more than 800 animals from approximately 150 species. The number of visitors in 2022 exceeded 1 million again after a plunge due to the covid-19 pandemic, while the population of Asahikawa City is about 340 thousand. The secret of its popularity lies in the enclosures focused on exhibiting not only the animals themselves but also their behaviors from different angles. In 2022, a new facility “Ezo Brown Bear Museum” opened.

3   Mount Hakodate (函館山) [8/10] MAP-④

Mount Hakodate is a 334m-high inactive volcanic mountain in Hakodate City. The mountain is renowned for its spectacular night views of the surrounding bay and city from the peak. The observatory deck is open from 10:00 to 22:00 (for winter season it closes one hour earlier) and can be accessed by the ropeway service or by hiking trail.

2   Farm Tomita (ファーム富田) [9/10] MAP-②

The history of Farm Tomita in Furano is closely related to the cultivation of Hokkaido. In 1897, the government enacted a law that allowed people to cultivate government-owned land in Hokkaido and keep the same land if they succeeded in the cultivation. Many people migrated from the main island, and started farming in the land of Furano. In 1937, a fragrance company imported lavender seeds from France and thereafter lavender farming started in various locations in Japan, including Furano. The lavender farming peaked in 1970 before declining due to the rapid development of synthetic fragrance. But the lavender farm in Furano featured in a calendar of the national railway in 1976 caught people’s eyes and revived as one of the most popular tourist attractions. Although the lavender season is mostly from mid-July to end-July, the farm has a field of late-bloomer variety Lavandin that can be enjoyed until mid-August. Apart from the lavender fields, there are fields of seasonal flowers for the visitors to enjoy until end of September.

1   Shirogane Blue Pond (青い池) [10/10] MAP-②

Recommended by 10 out of 10 travel websites, Shirogane Blue Pond is the most popular tourist attractions in Hokkaido. According to the official website of Biei Town where the pond is located, the pond was a by-product of disaster prevention works for mudslides in the Biei River. The aluminum, sulfur and lime that seep into the water from the nearby hot spring and waterfall scatter the sunlight, making the pond look like blue, but the water itself has no color. The blue color as well as the Japanese white birth trees in the pond create a fantastic landscape that you cannot miss when you visit Hokkaido.

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