Best Late Winter Destinations in Hokkaido
Admiring the First Sunrise Behind Ezo Fuji
Admiring the “hatsu hinode” (first sunrise) on New Year’s Day is a long-practiced tradition in Japan. It is believed that the “toshigami” (god of the new year) blesses the harvest and brings fortune at dawn. Among all the sunrise viewing points in Hokkaido, Mount Yotei is the most famous because its shillouette is reminiscent of Mount Fuji.
Nicknamed “Ezo Fuji” (after Hokkaido’s former name), Mount Yotei is designated one of the Japan’s 100 Most Famous Mountains and is a landmark of Hokkaido. Watching the sun rise behind this incredible mountain is the perfect way to start your new year.
Address: Kutchan-cho / Kimobetsu-cho / Kyogoku-cho / Makkari-mura / Niseko-cho, Hokkaido
Access: about 40 minutes by Donan Bus from JR Kutchan Station
The Fireworks Displays Warm You Up This Winter
“Fuyu Hanabi” (Winter-Beauty Fireworks) are a fireworks display launched from the frozen surface of Lake Akan.
The nightly month-long event begins on the 1st of February. After you’ve gotten your fill of daytime winter activities like snowmobiling, banana boarding and pond-smelt fishing, visit the area after dark for a display of over 300 fireworks launched from 8:10 p.m. every night with an icy sky in sub-zero weather as the backdrop. Witness the fiery hues and mesmerising lights over the frozen lake is an overwhelming experience sure to warm you up. Or, if you don’t feel confident you can beat the extreme cold, consider viewing the colourful lights from one of the hotels/inns scattered across the hot spring town.
We recommend the 300 yen “Otanoshimi” ticket set that includes stamped certificate proving you braved the sub-zero temperatures that day, amazake (a warm drink made from fermented rice), hot milk or wakasagi tempura (breaded fresh-water smelt).
Lake Akan Ice Festival “Fuyu-hanabi”
Venue：Akanko Onsen, Akan-cho, Kushiro-shi, Hokkaido
Period：1 February 2020 – 2 March 2020
Hours：from 7:30 p.m.（firework displays from 8:10 p.m.）
Access to Lake Akan：about 2 hours by Akan Bus from JR Kushiro Station
Challenge Yourself to Winter Activities at one of the Best Views in Japan
Ōnuma Quasi-National Park boasts three major lakes and 126 small islands. In Japan, it is referred to as one of the “3 New Best Views of Japan”.
In contrast to the lush greenery of summer, the park turns into a snow paradise during winter months. On the surface of the frozen lake, both kids and grown-ups can enjoy a diverse range of outdoor activities like as pond-smelt fishing, swan watching and snowshoe and snowsled tours. And you don’t even need a driving license for adrenaline-pumping thrills like snowmobiling! Or maybe banana boarding is more your speed? With so much variety, Ōnuma is one of the best places for winter-leisure beginners and all generations.
From Hakodate to Onuma Quasi-National Park just takes you a 30-minute train ride. So look no further for a better family-friendly place to have some fun in the snow.
Ōnuma Quasi-National Park
Address：Nanae-cho, Kameda-gun, Hokkaido
Hours：Onuma Park Square opens 24 hours a day, 365 days a year
Period：depends on the tour
Swan watching: late December – early March
Pond-smelt fishing: early January – early March
Snowshoe tour: late December – mid March
Snowmobiling / Snow-sled tour: late January – early March（depending on condition of the ice）
Access: about 5 minutes by walk from JR Onuma-koen Station
The Scenery of Tsugara Straits from Hakodate
The seaside City of Hakodate is located right next to the mainland of Japan. When you’re in town, why not give Café LAMINAIRE a visit? The ocean view through the massive windows offer an almost 360° ocean view of the Tsugaru Straits.
The café offers weekly lunch plates and handmade desserts for customers to indulge in its resort-like ambience. With Mount Hakodate to the right and Yunokawa onsen on the left, you can expect a glittering ocean view at daytime or a crimson painting at sunset. Hop on the Hakodate City Tram to get easy access to this beautiful location.
Adress: 14-31 Horaicho, Hakodate-shi, Hokkaido
Hours: 11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Closed: Every Thursday
Access: about 3 minutes by walk from Hakodate City Tram Horaicho stop
Crack Open Some Uni
If you plan to try all that must-eat delicacies of Hokkaido, “uni” (sea urchin) will likely rank near the top of your list. Among the various kinds, Ezo Bafun Uni (short-spined sea urchin) has an especially high reputation thanks to its rich flavour, and the ones from Shiretoko Rausu are said to be the best.
Between February and May each year, Shiretoko Rausu Hamada Shoten holds a hands-on Uni Opening class (by reservation) supervised by Shiretoko Rausu Lincle. Aside from getting to crack open and devour Ezo Bafun Uni that has fed on Rausu-Konbu, one of the most high-quality kelps, participants will also be treated to seafood treats like crabs, scallops, salmon and many more.
Shiretoko Rausu Hamada Shoten
Address：Rebun-cho 365-1, Rausu-cho, Menashi-gun, Hokkaido
Hours：8：00 a.m. – 5：00 p.m.
Period of Sea Urchin Opening Experience：from 1st February to 31st May
Hours of Sea Urchin Opening Experience：11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Access：about 45 minutes by car from Nakashibetsu Airport
Homepage：https://rausu.co.jp/ (Japanese only)
Reservation page：https://rausu.co.jp/uniwari.reservation (Japanese Only)
Hokkaido From the Sky
A never-before-seen side of Hokkaido!
Lavender fields, the Niseko Panorama Line, the Moai Heads and Buddha Statue in Makomanai Takino Cemetery… Hokkaido always has a lot to offer, including magnificent nature or awe-inspiring moments. You may have visited some top-rated tourist spots, but have you seen a bird’s-eye view of the landscape?
Familiar attractions look entirely different when viewed from another perspective. For those who are heading to Hokkaido soon look no further – let’s kick-start your 2020 with our EXCLUSIVE drone footage!
・Niseko Panorama Line
・Lavender fields in Furano
・Makomanai Takino Cemetery（Moai Heads/Buddha Statue）
・Shujitsu no Oka Hill
・Icebreaking Ship Aurora
・Mild Seven no Oka Hill
・White birch colonnade
・Road to Heaven
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