|Hokkaido, here we come!
The northernmost of Japan’s four main islands, Hokkaido offers different scenery compared to the main land, where roads disappear into the horizon, forests are full-sized, and mountain-range sometimes makes you think you are in Canadian mountains.
We flew for 1.5 hours from Tokyo to Sapporo, and then hired a car to drive around. This time we are travelling with Hiro’s mum and her friend, Mori-san who volunteered to be our tour guide to show us around Hokkaido as she was originally from there. We visited a few beautiful lakes, Shikotsu-ko and Toya-ko. They are quite big, and surrounded by beautiful volcanic mountain-ranges creating great scenery all together.
We then drove to Niseko, famous ski resort in winter, but in summer it is a hiking base, offering all the outdoor activities such as rafting, kayaking, bike riding etc. This town also has huge population of Australians.
Our next stop was Otaru, it is a historical canal town and very picturesque with its canal and warehouses waterfront. These historical warehouses have now been turned into cool restaurants, bars and shops. One of them we went in was the Otaru beer distillery where you can see the process of making beer and also taste beer afterwards. Continuing our romantic stroll along Otaru canal, we saw many beautiful glassware shops, Otaru is also famous for glass-blowing industry. We finally got back to Sapporo after dark and stayed at Mori’s sister’s place, she cooked so much Hokkaido food for us. Famous Hokkaido seafood such as tuna and scallop is so fresh and tasty, we had them all sashimi!!
Next day we headed to Furano and visited a beautiful lavender farm. This area is so scenic with beautiful flower fields and snow-covered mountain ranges. We then drove up to the Daisetsuzan National Park, Japan’s first and largest national park consisting of several stunning mountain groups, volcanoes, onsen hot springs, picturesque lakes and thick forests. It also includes Asahidake mountain, Hokkaido’s highest peak at 2290m. while we were driving we saw a few foxes, and there are a few signs saying “watch out bears”. It also says that it was last seen there only 2 weeks ago. We stayed the night at a village beneath Asahidake, and enjoyed soaking ourselves in hot spring.
We got up early and took a ropeway up to Asahidake, then hiked around for a few hours. It was definitely the highlight of our Hokkaido trip, we enjoyed absolutely amazing scenery with snow-covered mountains, thick forests, beautiful emerald colour pools, volcanic eruption, wild flowers etc. There was still snow left on trekking paths (hiro’s mum fell over twice) and quite cool probably at around 15 degrees, we loved there, it is definitely on our “come back in the future” list.