It’s time to visit Hokkaido, Asia’s winter playground

Updated: 2015-10-09
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From the first snowflake that falls on the central mountaintops in September until the official last day of the ski season in May, rather than quivering under the six-month-long Siberian cold, Hokkaido flourishes through the ice.

The second largest island in Japan has an astounding line-up of winter activities and attractions, buzzing cities, natural beauty and unique wildlife to discover. Some great festivals, traditions and events also take place during the winter season.




Sapporo Snow Festival



The highlight of Sapporo’s (and even Japan’s) winter calendar is the Sapporo Winter Festival that springs the city into life in February.

A fantastic display of ice sculptures that take months to plan and weeks to make line the parks and boulevards. The city is rich with options for things to do including ski jumping, concerts, snow golf, karaoke, and dancing.



Previous super-sized sculptures have included a replica of Trafalgar Square, the Taj Mahal, Cinderella’s crystal carriage, and even Harry Potter.

Sapporo Tanukikoji Shopping Street



With a history of more than 140 years, Tanukikoji in downtown Sapporo is one of the oldest shopping streets in Hokkaido with around 200 shops lining along the one km-long arcade. Visitors will find old and traditional merchants selling kimonos, tea or incense side by side with modern stores specializing in computers and software or state-of-the-art electronics and digital cameras – all of which lends it a bazaar-like quality.



The arcade holds lively events, including “Ouridashi,” which is well known for the grabbing of cash which will be held twice a year in June and December, and “Tanuki Festival” in which the arcade is elaborately decorated. In addition to long-established shops, more boutiques for young people and unique restaurants have opened.

Address: Minami 2 & 3-jo Nishi 1-chom to 7-chome, Chuo-ku, Sapporo

Ganso Ramen Street



Ramen is very famous in Japan, but Sapporo is known as the birth place of Miso Ramen. Your trip to Sapporo is not complete without paying a visit to Ganso Ramen Yokocho. Located in the entertainment district of Susukino, the historical narrow lane is lined with over 20 stores serving Sapporo's famous ramen. The price is just right and the menu is not complicated.

When it comes to eating noodles the Japanese way, making slurping noises while eating is perfectly acceptable. In fact it is part of Japanese culture; slurping helps to cool the noodles and brings out their full flavor.

Opening hours: 11:00 am – 04:00 am
Address: South 5 West 3, Chuuo-ku, Sappro-shi




Hakodate Morning Market





The most iconic seafood market in Hokkaido is Hakodate Morning Market. Located close to Hakodate station, Hakodate Morning Market provides great seafood thanks to Hokkaido's abundant fishing grounds. There’s a wide selection of restaurants offering raw and fresh seafood. One of delights visitors should not miss is Hakodate’s famous seafood-topped donburi - a bowl of rice with different toppings such as salmon, ikura fish eggs, or tuna.

The market opens at 5 a.m. and closes in the early afternoon, just after the lunch rush.

Kanemori Red Brick Warehouse




Previously used as warehouses, the Kanemori Red Brick Warehouse now constitute a commercial facility of red brick buildings holding restaurants, shops, art museums, meeting halls, etc. Some of the warehouses continue to be used as sales warehouses, giving a glimpse into Hakodate’s golden age of shipping. Facing Hakodate Bay across a navigation channel, it is a row of red brick warehouses that conjures up a feeling of nostalgia.

Address: 14-12 Suehiro-cho, Hakodate-shi, Hokkaido

Onuma Quasi-National Park



Onuma Quasi-National Park is known for its picturesque, island dotted lakes and majestic dormant volcano, Mt. Komagatake (1,131 m). There are more than 80 islets on Lake Onuma, and 18 bridges connecting a select few so that visitors can enjoy walking on the trails, cycling, canoeing and cruising. The area promises visitors a fulfilling experience in Hokkaido's great outdoors.

Onuma Quasi-National Park turns into a snow-covered wonderland in winter. The lake itself in winter is frozen up to 40 cm deep with about 25 cm of fresh powdery snow on its top layers, offering visitors an array of winter activities.


"Ice Fishing for Wakasagi (Smelt)" is a popular winter activity in which fishing enthusiasts make hole in the ice through which small fish can be reeled in.


Onuma Quasi-National Park can be easily visited in either a day trip from Hakodate or on a stop over on a journey between Hakodate and Sapporo, since most limited express trains between the two cities stop at Onuma Koen Station, the central railway station.

Address: Nanae-cho, Kameda-gun, Hokkaido

Mount Hakodate Observatory


 The night scenery is best viewed from the restaurant located on the second floor of the observatory.


The night view from the Mount Hakodate Observatory is known as one of the Three Best Night Views in the world, along with Hong Kong and Naples. The view of the town shining like a jewelry box is breathtaking. Because of the beautiful nightscape, Mount Hakodate is nationally well known as a romantic nighttime spot to bring a date. The night scenery is best viewed from the restaurant located on the second floor of the observatory.



The ropeway is the easiest way to the summit, but there is also a road that is open during the summer months. Buses or taxis to the top are also available. It can also be hiked.

Hakodate Tropical Botanical Garden


 Japanese macaque monkeys warming themselves in the garden’s hot spring spas on chilly winter days



This is a lush garden with around 300 varieties of tropical plants. For tourists, the most attractive thing about the garden is the Japanese macaque monkeys warming themselves in the garden’s hot spring spas on chilly winter days. Some of the monkeys will spend the entire day in the bath when the weather becomes harsher.

Address: 3-1-15 Yunokawa-cho, Hakodate




Noboribetsu Jigoku-dani




Noboribetsu Jigoku-dani or “Hell Valley” is the source of the Noboribetsu Hot Spring, naturally pouring out ten thousand tons of hot water every day. Volcanic pits, steam vents and geysers are constantly puffing out from the earth providing a dramatic and beautiful scene. Once you get used to the strong smell of sulphur in the air, you really get to take in the beauty and magnitude of the sight.


Noboribetsu Hot Spring is Hokkaido's most famous and one of Japan's best hot spring resort. It has 11 different kinds of water, containing minerals such as hydrogen sulfide, salt, and iron, so it is called “a department store of hot springs”.


Address: Noboribetsu Onsen-cho, Noboribetsu-shi, Hokkaido


Otaru Canal



Otaru Canal is a popular tourist destination for Japanese and foreign visitors who flock to the canal year-round to enjoy its nostalgic atmosphere. The red-brick warehouse lining up along the canal tells of the early prosperity of Otaru, which can be compared with today’s Wall Street in New York.




The canal is an ideal place to enjoy a pleasant stroll during the day. Asakusa Bridge is the starting point of Otaru Canal and 1,120m of stone-paved promenade was built alongside. Old fashioned gas lamps installed on the both sides of the canal light the path at night, creating a romantic atmosphere.
Address: Minatomachi, Otaru-shi, Hokkaido

Otaru Music Box Museum




Just a few minutes walk from JR Minami-Otaru station is the historic Otaru Music Box Museum. The building was built in 1912, and perfectly showcases the Western-style design of the city. The main room opens to the ceiling that is two stories high, with aged wooden staircases and antique furniture.



Much of the building is devoted to the museum portion, which displays items from Otaru’s past. In addition, there are hundreds of hand-made music boxes for sale, from ones that fit in the palm of your hand to others that need an entire room for display.



Address: 4-1 Sumiyoshi-cho, Otaru-shi, Hokkaido


Fly from Xiamen to Japan



 ANA is offering a series of special discounts on its flights from Xiamen to Japan.


Xiamen - Tokyo - Hokkaido

Economy class

/Business class

Book 35 days in advance of departure day

Starting from RMB 4,100


Xiamen - Tokyo

Economy class


Book 35 days in advance of departure day

RMB 3,200


Book 21 days in advance of departure day

RMB 4,000

Business class


Book 14 days in advance of departure day

RMB 11,200


For more details, please call ANA Xiamen office.
Tel: 0592-2052173

About ANA
ANA is now the largest airline in Japan by revenues and passengers. Founded in 1952 with only two small helicopters, ANA flies today on 73 international routes and 120 domestic routes. ANA was voted Airline of the Year in 2013 by Air Transport World Magazine, and in 2015 was awarded five stars for the third consecutive year by the world's leading airline and airport review site, SKYTRAX.

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Comments Area ( Total Comments: 1 )
Voodoo commented on 21 Oct 2015
I am sure the locals will welcome the spitting and general disrate..