The Best Winter Events in Hokkaido – HOKKAIDO LOVE!

Lake Akan Ice Festival ~ICE / Love / Akan Fuyu Hanabi~

Hokkaido’s annual winter festival, “Lake Akan Ice Festival ICE / Love / Akan Fuyu Hanabi,” is held annually at the beautiful Lake Akan in Eastern Hokkaido. This stunning performance of colors is unfolded at the Lake, where temperatures drop down to -20 . Visitors can enjoy various activities on the frozen surface of Lake Akansnowmobiles, banana boats, and smelt fishing experiences are held at daytime, and fireworks are held every night against the winter sky as a canvas. 

It takes several hours from major cities such as Sapporo, so we highly recommend staying on the day.

■Access: About 1.5 hours by car or local bus from JR Kushiro Station

■Venue: Lake Akan Special Event Space

Sairinka® Illuminations

The Tokachigawa Onsen Resort in eastern Hokkaido is a rare hot spring venue that prides itself in having springs deriving from reed and other native plants, which have accumulated deep in the ground together with groundwater over the ages. But in January, the resort also attracts tourists for its second most popular destination: the Sairinka® Illuminations. During this time, the area becomes filled with 600 triangle-shaped objects which are lit in various colors, accompanied by gentle music. 

Every year, about 50,000 people arrive to enjoy the festival, taking photographs and participating in various events and activities. Children can also have tons of fun snow-rafting or playing at the “Digital Amusement Park.” After spending an active day playing in the snow, stop by at the resort’s foot bath to warm yourself up with rare hot spring waters!  

■Light up time: 19:00-21:00

■Access: A 30-minutes ride from JR Obihiro Station with the Tokachi Bus. Get off at Garden Spa Tokachi Onsen and walk 10 minutes from there

■Address: 14 Chome Tokachigawaonsenkita, Otofuke, Kato gun, Hokkaido

■Spot Introduction:

Otaru Snow Light Path Festival

During the Otaru Snow Light Path Festival, warm candle flames light up the old town of Otaru. Almost the whole city is lit up by warm candle flames, giving it a magical and romantic feel in the cold months of February. At one of the central locations near the Otaru Canal, you can see the “floating candles,” which are made in the image of ukidama, a glass tool used for fishing. There are various other activities for visitors of all ages, including the wax bowl-making workshop which is popular among children.

■Location: Otaru Canal, Former Temiya Line, Asarigawa Onsen, Tenguyama, and other areas in Otaru

■Access: Otaru Canal and Temiya Line locations: 10-minute walk from JR Otaru Station

■Spot Introduction:

Lake Shikaribetsu Kotan

There is a village up in Hokkaido that only appears when it’s very, very coldLake Shikaribetsu is the highest-altitude lake in Hokkaido, which means that it’s located in a freezing environment. At the end of every January, a village made of ice and snow appears on the lake’s surface.

This limited-period lake village offers an otherworldly experience for visitors. There aren’t many other places where you can enjoy ice-made churches, chapels or hot springs on top of the ice. Those wishing to stay should opt for the ice lodges, where you can enjoy a splendid sight of the winter scenery as you soak in the hot springs before going off to bed. When you wake up in the morning, if the weather permits, maybe you can even catch a glimpse of the diamond dust phenomenon that often occurs here!

Access: Approximately 1 hour 40 minutes from Obihiro Station by bus or 1 hour from Shintoku Station. Approximately 2 hours by car from Obihiro Airport

Address: Lakeside of Shikaribetsu, Shikaoicho, Kato-gun, Hokkaido

Tel: 0156-69-8181

■Spot Introduction:

Jozankei Onsen Snow Light Path

The Jozankei area is known for its autumn foliage and onsen with great views, but not many know that it’s also the venue for a beautiful event called “Jozankei Onsen Snow Light Path.” About 2,000 snow candles light up the shrine’s property, making it a popular location for taking beautiful photographs. It’s said that the “flames of wishes” can make your wishes come true, if the flame reaches the snow candle without fading out. You can also order warm soups while observing the beautiful candlelights at night.

■Access: Take the Kappa Liner bus or the local bus from Sapporo Station (Kappa Liner timetable:

■Spot Introduction:

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Central Hokkaido/Sapporo /Eastern Hokkaido