You can take the Hokkaido Shinkansen (Japanese bullet train) from Tokyo to Hakodate, which is the south gate of Hokkaido Island. . In all season you can see beautiful mountains and great terrain of Hokkaido, especially during winter. You can ski and skate there. On the other hand, you can see flower fields and ride a bicycle in summer.
There are 6 National Parks in Hokkaido:
Shiretoko, Rishiri-Rebun-Sarobetsu, Shikotsu-toya, Daisetsuzan, Akan-Mashu and Kusiroshitsugen. Shiretoko is also a World Heritage site. Shiretoko is near Nemuro, which is a city located in the eastern part of Hokkaido. Rishiri-Rebun-Sarobetsu and Kushiroshitsugen are designated as the Ramsar sites..
There are many sightseeing spots in Hokkaido.
When you have time, we recommend going to Wakkanai city, the northernmost gate of Hokkaido. Hokkaido is famous for fresh agricultural and marine products.
You can get foods from Hokkaido in other areas of Japan, for example, exhibition of the products. However, we strongly recommend you to try to eat them in Hokkaido.
Hakodate city is located in south part of Hokkaido, which is one of the most popular spots both for foreigners and for Japanese. You can see old catholic and Russian orthodox churches in the streets. They still preserve the original appearance. During the night, you may see a beautiful night view from a small mountain, Mt.Hakodate that is in the western part of Hakodate, and enjoy the famous Yunokawa hot spring at Yunokawa. If you are lucky, you can see fire for luring fish at night (called “ISARIBI” in Japanese) from summer to fall. It is a breathtaking view. Goryokaku is also a popular site for it being one of the last Samurai castles in North Hakodate.
Otaru is near Sapporo. The city thrived as a port town and financial district. You can see a canal and Meiji era style buildings that are all made of stones. You can enjoy promenade and Japanese dishes and sweets. In Hokkaido, there are three long-distance ferry ports: Otaru Port, Tomakomai Port and Tomakomai-higashi port. They are starting points of a trip to Hokkaido by ferry.
The World Heritage Sites: Shiretoko (peninsula)
You can see valuable animals and flora in primitive forest. In the sea you can enjoy whale watching by boat. In winter especially between January and February, many tourists come to see the floating ice flood in the sea of Okhotsk, near Shiretoko Peninsula. In summer, you can enjoy trekking and nature observation. Shiretoko comes from SHIRIETOKU meaning “end of the world” in Ainu language. Ainu people are indigenous people in Japan. In Shiretoko, harsh geography and climate have made difficult for people to step in. This is why even now there are great natures and we can feel the mysteries of nature in all seasons.
■Shiretoko National Park Nature Center
Access to Hokkaido
You can go to Hokkaido from many places in Japan.By airway, you can go from the following airports: Sapporo (Shin-chitose/New-chitose), Sapporo-Okadama, Hakodate, Tancho-Kushiro, Memanbetsu, Nemuro-Nakashibetsu, Wakkanai, Rishiri, Okushiri. By railway, you can take JR line.The Hokkaido Shinkansen line (Japanese bullet train) runs from Tokyo to Hakodate. By Ferry, cargo and passengers are carried from main island Honshu including Tohoku, Tokyo, Chubu, Kansai to Tomakomai, Tomakomai-higashi and Otaru port.