Land of the Ainus, an ethnic group that has lived in the region for more than 7,000 years, the prefecture to the north of Japan corresponds to the whole of the island of the same name, being the second in size of those that make up the country just behind Honshu. It represents 20% of its surface, inhabited by only 4% of the population, due to the intense cold that characterizes it. Little known to foreign tourists for its remoteness from the star nuclei (the Tokyo–Kyoto axis), only 10% of the more than 50 million visitors are foreigners, mostly from nearby Asian countries who come to ski. Since we are talking about a country with 128 million inhabitants, it would be strange if one of every 3 went to Hokkaido once a year, and the key are the Japanese “repeating” tourists, fans of winter sports who come several times each season to enjoy some of the best ski slopes in the country.
But the nature in Hokkaido, besides being one of the most pristine, is not limited to winter. The mountains and natural parks are extensive, full of fauna (monkeys, bears or raccoons) and present an impressive but fleeting aspect in the warm months, with green meadows covered with flowers and gardens that rival the famous Keukenhof in the Netherlands, and deciduous forest in autumn. The possibilities of enjoying hiking are manifold in less crowded environments than the Japanese Alps or Kyushu mountains and there are many outdoor onsens where you can enjoy a dip with views of the starry sky or the mountains.
Few are those who come for city tourism; Sapporo, the 5th city in the country in number of inhabitants, apart from its winter festival, has few attractions. This is even more evident in the rest of the cities of the region, but the fact that they are not especially interesting does not reduce their comforts; in Hokkaido they have been intensified in an effort to avoid the depopulation and transfer of its inhabitants to areas with more benevolent climate, so we will not miss anything.
In short, Hokkaido can be a place to spend one of the best or worst holidays of your life, if you know what you are going to find and choose the right time to go.
- ASAHIKAWA AND BIEI
- DAISETSUZAN NATIONAL PARK
- WHEN TO GO
- DANGERS AND PROBLEMS