Hokkaido Japan - Guide to Hokkaido including Hokkaido map, Hokkaido sightseeing, Hokkaido Skiing, Hokkaido cities, Hokkaido climate and Hokkaido hotels.
Hokkaido is the northernmost of Japan's four main islands. Hokkaido is dominated by its climate and geography with long winters and mild summers. Hokkaido was the last part of Japan to be developed and populated by main stream Japanese population, with Japan's aboriginal Ainu race having lived in the area for thousands of years. Hokkaido features many great national parks, agricultural areas and ski fields. Hokkaido has a look and feel which is distinctly different from the other three main island of Japan, with no ancient temples and shrines, and an architecture which is more similar to northern America or Europe to help cope with the cold winters.
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Hokkaido is the northernmost of Japan's four main islands. Hokkaido is dominated by its climate (cold) and geography. Hokkaido includes the cities of:
HOKKAIDO PREFECTURE CAPITAL
Sapporo is the capital and largest city of the northern island of Hokkaido. Sapporo is known as the home of the Sapporo beer and miso-flavored Sapporo ramen, plus the famous Sapporo Snow Festival. The 1972 Winter Olympics were held in Sapporo as it also famous for its winter activities including skiing.
Chuo-ku is the central ward or area of Sapporo, the capital and largest city of the northern island of Hokkaido. Chuo-ku attractions include Odori Park, Sapporo Clock Tower, Hokkaido Shrine and the entertainment district of Susukino. Most of the government administration buildings are in the Chuo-ku including the historic Former Hokkaido Government Office.
Minami-ku is the south ward (Minami-ku literially translates as the south ward) or area of Sapporo, the capital and largest city of the northern island of Hokkaido. Minami-ku is the largest ward in Sapporo and covers 60% of the total area of Sapporo including pars of the Shikotsu-Toya National Park and 17 mountains including the highest mountain in Sapporo, Mt Yoichi. Minami-ku attractions include Jozankei hot springs resort, Sapporo Art Park and Makomanai Park which includes the Makomanai Ice Arena, Makomanai Open Stadium and the Sapporo Salmon Museum.
Susukino is the entertainment district of Sapporo, which features restaurants, bars and adult entertainment venues. Susukino is very similar to Kabukicho in Tokyo in both style and function, with many bright light signs which light up the area at night.
HOKKAIDO MAIN CITIES and TOWNS
Asahikawa is the second largest city in the northern island Hokkaido. Asahikawa is also officially the coldest city in Japan. Asahikawa has many nearby ski resorts, has a famous winter festival and features a wide varity of restaurants.
Esashi is a town in the Hiyama District of Hokkaido, which is on the western coastline in the south of the island. Esashi is one of the oldest towns in Hokkaido, and derives its name from the word konbu, which is Ainu for a type of edible kelp. Esashi is famous as the birthplace of Esashi Oiwake, a form of traditional folk music.
Furano is a popular ski destination in the centre of the northern island of Hokkaido. Furano is famous for its large quantities of dry powder snow which is popular with skiers and snowboarders alike. Furano is also famous for its beautiful fields of lavender, vineyards, and its unique Hokkai-Heso Matsuri — the Hokkaido Belly Button Festival.
Hakodate is a city and port in Oshima, Hokkaido, Japan. It is the capital city of Oshima Subprefecture. Hakodate is dominated by Hakodateyama (Mount Hakodate), a totally forested mountain, and the sea. Hakodate is also famous for its European-style Goryokaku fort, which was built in the shape of a five-pointed star in 1866.
Kitami is a city in the northern part of the northern island of Hokkaido. Kitami attractions include Onneyu Azalea Hill where 28,000 purple azaleas bloom in May and the Wakka Wild Flower Park where 300 different kinds of wild flowers bloom between May and September. Kitami also has five golf courses and many more gold parks. In winter you can enjoy skiing in the ski fields surrounding Kitami.
Kushiro is a port city on the eastern coast of the island of Hokkaido, which has the distinction of being one of the few reliably ice free ports during winter. Kushiro, also known as The Town of Mist, features Kushiro Marsh, a national park and Japan's largest marshland and Kushiro Tancho Nature Park, which was the first to breed tancho cranes (Japanese cranes).
Muroran is a port city on the south eastern coastline of the northern island of Hokkaido. Muroran is the capital city of the Iburi Subprefecture. Muroran attractions include the eight scenic sites, Muroran-Hakkei, with the Chikyu Misaki (Earth Cape), which features the light house, being the most popular. The other main Muroran attraction is the Hakucho Bridge, which features a main span of 720m.
Niseko is a popular ski resort town on the northern island of Hokkaido, Japan. Niseko has excellent deep powder snow and a long ski season. Niseko is widely regarded as the best ski resort in Japan for three main reasons: weather, size and infrastructure.
Noboribetsu is on the northern island of Hokkaido, Japan. Noboribetsu actually comprises the nearby towns of Noboribetsu, Horobetsu and Washibetsu. The main attraction is the hot spring village of Noboribetsu Onsen, 6 km inland from Noboribetsu itself. The vast majority of tourists are drawn to the 11 types of water found in the local hot springs, which contains sulfur and iron.
Obihiro is in the southern part of the northern island of Hokkaido. Obihiro attractions include the Obihiro Centennial Memorial Hall which depicts the natural history of the Tokachi Plan, local archaeology and pioneer history. Another Obihiro attraction is the Obihiro Racecourse where the Hokkaido style of Banei horse racing can be seen, where the horses drag steel sleds weighing around 500kg.
Otaru is a port city on the coastline of Ishikari Bay, which joins to the Sea of Japan, on the island of Hokkaido and is north west of the nearby Sapporo. Otaru is both a popular tourist destination and satellite city of Sapporo, with many residents driving the 25 minutes to Sapporo each day for work. Otaru attractions include the Nishin Goten (mansion), a large wooden building constructed in 1897 and once the home to the herring fishing magnate Hunkumatsu Tanakaa. Other Otaru attractions include the nearby ski fields. Otaru is famous for its fresh sushi and Otaru Beer.
Matsumae Castle, also known as Fukuyama Castle, is a flatland style Japanese Castle in Matsumae Hokkaido. Matsumae Castle was the only full castle built in Hokkaido and the last castle built (1854) using traditional methods. The original castle was built in 1606, but was destroyed by fire in 1637, then rebuilt in 1639. It was completely rebuilt in 1854. Although Matsumae Castle survived World War II it was mostly destroyed by fire in 1949. Today only the main gate survives from the original castle. In 1959 a concrete reconstruction of the donjon (tower) was completed.
Sapporo Clock Tower is loacted at North 1 West 2 in central Sapporo and is the oldest surviving buildings in the city. Sapporo Clock Tower which is a western style wooden building was built in 1878 and used by the then Sapporo Agricultural College (later renamed Hokkaido University). Today the Sapporo Clock Tower is a museum which displays the history of the Sapporo Agricultural College and early Sapporo. In 1970 the Sapporo Clock Tower was designated an Important Cultural Property.
HOKKAIDO OBSERVATION DECK or LOOKOUT
Sapporo TV Tower is loacted at the eastern end of Odori Park in central Sapporo. Sapporo TV Tower, which was completed in 1957, has a design which is based on the Eiffel Tower, with a total height of 147m. Sapporo TV Tower features an observation deck at 90m which provides excellent views of Odori Park and many parts of Sapporo. On the first floor of the Sapporo TV Tower this is an information centre and ticket booth for the observation deck. The second floor features a multipurpose hall. On the third floor there is a restaurant and souvenir shop.
Hokkaido Shrine is a Shinto Shrine within Maruyama Park in Chuo (central) Sapporo. Hokkaido Shrine enshrines the soul of Emperor Meiji and a famous explorer of Hokkaido, Mamiya Rinzo. Hokkaido Shrine was constructed in 1871, but was initially given the name of Sapporo Shrine. In 1964 the soul of Emperor Meiji was enshrined and the building was renamed Hokkaido Shrine. In 1974 the building was destroyed by fire, but was rebuilt in 1978.
HOKKAIDO MUSEUMS and ART GALLERIES
Former Hokkaido Government Office is western style building which was built in 1888 and was the center of government administration of Hokkaido in the early years of the development of the prefecture. Former Hokkaido Government Office is in central Sapporo, behind the current Hokkaido Government buiding. Today the Former Hokkaido Government Office functions as a museum and tourist information office, but also has conference room. In 1969 the Former Hokkaido Government Office was declared an Important Cultural Property.
Sapporo Beer Museum has to be one of the few museum where you are encouraged to drink beer in the museum. The Sapporo Beer Museum is in Sapporo on the northern island of Hokkaido. Sapporo Beer Museum was until 1965 the Sapporo Beer brewery and had started operations in 1890. The Sapporo Beer Museum covers three floors and shows the history and much of the equipment used over the years in making of Sapporo Beer.
HOKKAIDO GARDENS and PARKS
Matsumae Park, in Matsumae Hokkaido, is the site of the reconstructed Matsumae Castle, also known as Fukuyama Castle. Matsumae Park is also famous for its 10,000 cherry blossom trees of 250 different varieties, making Matsumae Park one of Japan's Top 100 Cherry Blossom Spots.
Odori Park, in the center of Sapporo, is an elongated park which runs in an east west direction from Nishi 1 Chome to Nishi 12 Chome. Odori Park was originally planned as the main street in Sapporo, but was later changed to a park. Many events are held in Odori Park including the Sapporo Snow Festival and the Sapporo Lilac Festival.
Shiretoko National Park includes the northern most island of Japan and the surrounding distinctive and highly productive marine area which contains some endangered species including the Blackiston's fish owl and the Viola kitamiana plant. There area is also globally significant for the migratory and threatened birds it supports. Shiretoko National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and forms part of the "Shiretoko" listing.
Hakodate Airport (IATA: HKD, ICAO: RJCH), is an international and domestic airport 10km from central Hakodate. In addition to domestic flights, Hakodate Airport has scheduled flights to Korea and Taiwan, plus charter flights to Hong Kong. Scheduled buses run between Hakodate Airport and Hakodate Station. Hakodate Airport is famous for being the airport where the defecting Soviet pilot landed his MiG-25 Foxbat fighter aircraft in 1976.
Daiei Department Store Sapporo is one of the Daiei stores, a chain of department stores and supermarkets based in Kobe, but with over 3,000 stores all over Japan. Daiei Department Store Sapporo is in Sapporo.
Daimaru Department Store Sapporo is one of the Daimaru Department stores found throughout Japan. Daimaru has a history going all the way back to Dia-Monjiya Store in Kyoto which opened in 1717. Today the Diamaru Department Store chain is part of the Daimaru Matsuzakaya Department Stores group, with many of the Diamaru Stores in the Kansai region. Daimaru Department Store Sapporo is in Sapporo.
Mitsukoshi Department Store Sapporo is part of an international department store chain founded in 1673 with the yago (shop name) Echigoya. The Mitsukoshi Department Store chain has its headquarters in Tokyo. The Mitsukoshi Department Store chain was the basis for the development of the massive Mitsui Group. Mitsukoshi Department Store Sapporo is in Sapporo.
UNIQLO is a large chain of casual clothing stores for men and women which has a reputation for providing good quality at a good price. UNIQLO is Japan's top clothing retail chain in terms of sales volume and profit. UNIQLO now has stores in China, Hong Kong, South Korea, UK, USA, France, Singapore and several other countries. UNIQLO Sapporo is in the city of Sapporo