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The complete guide to Hokkaido this May vol. 1

Cruise with sperm whales in Shiretoko Peninsula

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Registered as the only UNESCO’s Natural World Heritage in Hokkaido, Shiretoko Peninsula is a landscape where you can go on adventurous wildlife tours. In Rausu Town located in the Southeast, Shiretoko Nature Cruise is where you can go on drift-ice cruising tours in wintermonths (Jan ~ Mar) and whale/dolphin/bird-watching programmes during summertime (May ~ Oct).

“We have the best whale-watching experience here in Rausu!.” Just as the captain raves about his whale-watching cruising tours, tourists are very likely to catch sightings of sperm whales between August and September, or spot Dall’s porpoises in their natural habitat from June to October or get in touch with flocks of Natural Monuments, think white-tailed eagles and Steller’s sea eagles at a very close range. Animals are there all year round, still it’s recommended to check out the “Animal Encounter Rate Calendar” via the official website before reserving a seat – if you are a fan of any of the above species.

*We do not guarantee 100% sighting on whales, dolphins and other wildlife animals of our cruises.
*Departures depends upon weather conditions and conditions of the sea.

Shiretoko Nature Cruise
Address:27-1 Honcho, Rausu-cho, Menashi-gun, Hokkaido
※Boarding area is located within a 5-minute walk at the Rausu fishing port
Departure time:depends on cruise ships and season
Access:about 1 hour 15 minutes by car from Nemuro Nakashibetsu Airport

A cafe lit-up with 167 petroleum lamps

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Kitaichi Glass No.3 Building, designated as a “Historical Building” by Otaru City, boasts a long history since early Shora Era.

The building which was preowned by the glass tycoon Kitaichi Glass in Meiji Era, is now house to an otherworld ornamented with orange romance. Instead of electricity, many travellers will find it surprising that this retro cafe is lit up by 167 petroleum lamps. It would be more than enjoyable to have a charming coffee break here, yet the store shows its most spectacular side at 8:45 a.m sharp every day, right after it opens.

Grab a seat to witness the daily “lighting ceremony” routine, at which staff lights up the lamps on the tables and along the walls one by one. Also be sure to keep your eyes peeled when the chandelier is raised up to the ceiling. With all the magical interior surrounding, doesn’t a cup of milk tea or a soft-served made of Hokkaido-sourced milk taste a lot better than usual?

Kitaichi Glass No.3 Building Kitaichi Hall
Address:7-26 Sakai-machi, Otaru-shi, Hokkaido
Hours:8:45 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Access:about 10 minutes by walk from JR Minami-Otaru Station

Kushiro’s Pride. One of the Best Sunsets in the World

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Considered by the locals as one of the “Top 3 Sunsets in the World” alongside other famous worldwide spots like Bali and Manila, Kushiro in East Hokkaido is a reputed sunset-viewing location. Walk along the Kita-Odori Street from JR Kushiro Station for about 15 minutes, there you’ll come across the 124-meter-long Nusamai-bashi Bridge, which is also known as one of the three most famous bridges of Hokkaido.

Most first-time visitors will be in awe of the beauty of four statues of women “Shiki no Zo” on the guardrails with the setting sun as a canvas, whereas the after-dark hours are no less magical than the sunset times. Finish off your Kushiro night by admiring the light-up event which starts 30 minutes after sunset, sampling the sunset-themed local cocktail “Kushiro Sunset High Ball”, or joining the SEA CRANE cruising tour. Either way, these features give you reasons to stay out past sunset.

Nusamai Bridge
Address:1 Kita-dori, Kushiro-shi, Hokkaido
Light-up hours:After sunset till 0:00 a.m. everyday
Access:about 15 minutes by walk from JR Kushiro Station
Kushiro – Lake Akan Travel Guide:
Tour guide:

The Spring Foliage blooming in Biei!?

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Foliage-viewing might be an exclusive autumnal activity to many travellers – what if we say autumn leaves can be viewed three times a year in Biei City?

Let’s say you have already met the autumn leaves in early October, or larches in fiery red from late-October to early-November, but how about Spring foliage, or “Haru Momiji” in Biei from early-April to mid-May? It is a natural phenomenon which only can be seen during a short period of time while trees lack chlorophyll. Red and orange pigments cover up the green ones, thus making them retain in reddish fall colours.

To catch foliage in spring, drive all the way up to Akabane Seidai Dam. There you can enjoy the best view by a mere 10-minute journey from JR Furano Line Biei Station.

Spring foliage of Biei
Address:Nakaubakubetsu, Biei-cho, Kamikawa-gun, Hokkaido
Hill Town Biei DMO:
Biei Tourism Association:

The golden collaboration of a furniture showroom and a cafe space

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Higashikawa-cho, a little town in northern Hokkaido, has a knack for woodworking industry. Kita no Sumai Sekkeisha, is a furniture store-manufacturer-hybrid which is renovated from an elementary school could probably add a few smart ideas to your daily life.

The former classroom is now re-purposed into a workplace for craftsmen, whereas
the former academic dormitory is used as an office. While browsing through the adjacent showroom, you’ll come across furniture and living ware which are all made from 100% preservative-/insecticide-free Hokkaido-sourced natural wood. The site also deals in everything from kitchen goods to interior accessories, so it’s not surprising to see that the store is always crowded with fans from all over the country!

Keep an eye out for the bakery & cafe, which is filled with aroma of pizzas, pasta and bread made of natural yeasts. Are you in search of novelty yet sustainable products? You won’t go wrong with our choice.

Kita no Sumai Sekkeisha
Address:Kita-7-sen Higashi-7-go, Higashikawa-cho, Hokkaido
Hours:10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.(cafe until 5:30 p.m.)
Closed on:Wednesdays
Access:about 45 minutes by car from Asahikawa City downtown

Enjoy cherry-blossom-viewing like the Meiji Imperial Family

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Possibly one of the best locations for cherry blossom viewing in Hokkaido – designated as “Top 100 Roads of Japan”, “Top 100 Cherry Blossom Spots” and a “Hokkaido Heritage”, Nijukken Road is a stop on many tourist itineraries which draws over 200,000 Sakura lovers from early-May to mid-May each year.

Nijukken Road, or Twenty-Way Road in Japanese, was originally constructed as a
passageway for the Meiji Imperial Family to inspect the family’s ranch in the Hidaka region. Nowadays, the 7km-long straight road is lined with more than 2000 cherry blossom trees. While cherry blossoms are at their most breathtaking, drive through the straight road to soak in the fascinating pink world, or admire the pale petals uplose by cycling through the “Flower Tunnel”. You may also visit the Sakuras in full swing when the Shizunai Sakura Festival is held during the same period. That’s the only chance when you can explore the interior of the Ryuunkaku, an inn built in 1909 for the Imperial Family, which is usually not open to the public.

Nijukken Road Cherry Blossoms (Twenty-way Road Cherry Blossoms)
Address:Shizunai Tahara / Shizunai Misono, Shin-Hidaka-cho, Hidaka-gun, Hokkaido
Access:about 20 minutes by Donan Bus bound for “Noya” from JR Shizunai Station, alight at “Sakura-ga-oka Sho-gakkou” bus stop then walk for about 15 minutes
Shin-Hidaka Cho:
Tour guide: