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Support Hokkaido Tourism with Travel! A Report on Hokkaido’s “Now”

It has been around 2 months since a major earthquake wracked Hokkaido in September of 2018. The transportation systems in Hokkaido are still functional for sightseeing, and any damage-causing aftershocks have also subsided. As such, tourism levels are back on the rise to reach pre-quake levels.

This article will introduce charming sights featured in both Japanese sightseeing booklets and in various forms of media that have not been affected by Hokkaido’s recent events, so as to make your visit as smooth and seamless as possible!

Hokkaido offers both city tourism and beautiful natural landscapes
Hokkaido offers both city tourism and beautiful natural landscapes

Hokkaido is a vast region, occupying about 20% of Japan’s total landmass. As such, it is home to all sorts of sightseeing options, including cities with chic stores to visit, beautiful natural views, fresh seafood, and unique local festivals and events. If you want to enjoy your visit to Hokkaido to the fullest, we highly recommend you choose one of its four main areas to focus on, either Douou (Central Hokkaido), Dounan (Southern Hokkaido), Douhoku (Northern Hokkaido), or Doutou (Eastern Hokkaido). (While each of these areas is part of Hokkaido, as an example, Sapporo in Douou is as far away from Shiretoko in Doutou as Tokyo is from Osaka! For this reason, we recommend reading up on each of the four areas, choosing one to visit, and planning a trip for that area.)

Hokkaido is divided into four areas, Douou (Central Hokkaido), Dounan (Southern Hokkaido), Douhoku (Northern Hokkaido), and Doutou (Eastern Hokkaido)
Hokkaido is divided into four areas, Douou (Central Hokkaido), Dounan (Southern Hokkaido), Douhoku (Northern Hokkaido), and Doutou (Eastern Hokkaido)

1. Douou Area’s Appeal

Douou is home to a wide variety of sights, like the major city Sapporo, Otaru with its beautiful European-style canals, and Niseko with its snow activities, so whether you want to look around the city or experience the outdoors, you’re sure to find something to fit your needs. Sapporo is also a great area to visit for amazing local dishes, like ramen, jingisukan, fresh seafood, and curry soup. If you’re planning on visiting Douou, you should arrive via New Chitose Airport.

Sapporo is the largest city in Hokkaido
Sapporo is the largest city in Hokkaido
Otaru is home to beautiful waterways and historic buildings
Otaru is home to beautiful waterways and historic buildings
Niseko is a great stop for ski lovers from around the world thanks to its great quality snow
Niseko is a great stop for ski lovers from around the world thanks to its great quality snow

1-1. <Message 1 from a Douou-Area Company> AIRDO

AIRDO is a Japanese airline headquartered in Sapporo.

“AIRDO” is a Japanese airline headquartered in Sapporo
“AIRDO” is a Japanese airline headquartered in Sapporo

Travelers visiting Japan from outside of the country can enjoy special discounts on airfare with AIRDO’s “Welcome to HOKKAIDO Fare.”

  • Target Routes: All routes
  • Available Period: October 1st, 2018~December 20th, 2018
  • Example Fare: All routes [After Discount] 5,400 yen [Before Discount] 8,800 yen (9,600 yen December 14th~December 20th)

Details:

Discounted fare is only available for travelers from outside of Japan, and reservations/purchases must be made the day before intended day of use or earlier.
Please see AIRDO’s official web page for terms and conditions as well as other details.

AIRDO Web Page

The head of AIRDO has said, “Many sightseeing areas in Hokkaido, including Sapporo, can once again be visited as normal. We hope that you will enjoy your time sightseeing in Hokkaido, and we encourage everyone’s visits to the area.” By all means, please utilize this great service and visit Hokkaido!

AIRDO welcomes travelers visiting from outside of Japan!
AIRDO welcomes travelers visiting from outside of Japan!

1-3. <Message 2 from a Douou-Area Company> Orgel Doh

Otaru is located about 35 minutes by JR train from Sapporo, and it is a great town for on-foot sightseeing, featuring sights like the Otaru Canal, Wall Street on the north side, and Sakaimachi-dori. The Orgel Doh is also located within Otaru, and it handles a variety of different types of music boxes. The main building of the Otaru Orgel Doh is an eye-catching red-brick building built in 1912 at Marchen Crossing. The expansive interior is brimming with a nostalgic atmosphere.

The main building of Otaru Orgel Doh is an eye-catching red-brick building
The main building of Otaru Orgel Doh is an eye-catching red-brick building
The expansive interior is brimming with a nostalgic atmosphere
The expansive interior is brimming with a nostalgic atmosphere

The head of the Orgel Doh wishes to say to our readers, “The steam-powered clock in front of the Otaru Orgel Doh plays a melody every 15 minutes with steam, and it’s also a popular place to take pictures. Sightseeing and tourism in Otaru is back to normal, so we eagerly look forward to your visit!” Enjoy searching for your favorite piece at the Orgel Doh!

The Orgel Doh is eagerly looking forward to your visit!
The Orgel Doh is eagerly looking forward to your visit!

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2. Donan Area’s Appeal

Donan is home to a variety of different areas, like the popular tourist city with western-style buildings and churches as well as gorgeous night views “Hakodate,” “Kaminokuni-cho” and “Esashi-cho” that prospered thanks to maritime trade, and “Matsumae-cho,” with Hokkaido’s only castle town. Hakodate also features a fishing port, so many people visit the area’s market to enjoy fresh seafood! If you wish to visit the Donan area, you have a few options, including coming via Hakodate Airport and taking the Shinkansen from Tokyo. Donan is about 4 hours by train from Sapporo.

Hakodate has beautiful cityscapes and night views
Hakodate has beautiful cityscapes and night views
Matsumae-cho is home to Hokkaido’s only castle town
Matsumae-cho is home to Hokkaido’s only castle town

2-1. Message from Hakodate City in the Donan Area

Hakodate is a historic port city in Hokkaido. The airport is located near the city area, and it features established air routes to Taiwan as well as to Tokyo and Osaka. Additionally, in March of 2016 the Hakodate Shinkansen was first opened, offering a convenient way to travel to Hakodate from Tokyo in about 4 hours. Hakodate is home to a variety of attractions, including what’s been called the world’s best night view from up on Mt. Hakodate, beautiful foreign architecture in the Motomachi area, and Goryokaku castle, as well as fresh seafood and onsen!

Special feature on the charms of Hakodate City

Hakodate City officials would like to say to our readers, “Hakodate City’s tourist facilities are up and running as normal. City transportation, including Hakodate’s trams, buses, and the Mt. Hakodate ropeway are all operating, so you can enjoy your Hakodate sightseeing to the fullest. We’re eagerly awaiting your arrival here in Hakodate!” Be sure to consider Hakodate, a city with many beautiful places to take photos for social media, for your next trip!

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3. Dohoku Area’s Appeal

Dohoku is an area packed with places where you can enjoy unique natural scenes, like “Asahikawa,” where you can see animals in exhibits close to nature at the Asahiyama Zoo, and “Furano,” which is famous for its fields of lavender in the summer. There are also many restaurants where you can enjoy fresh local seafood, like uni (sea urchin) and hokke (Okhotsk Atka mackerel). If you wish to visit the Dohoku area, you have a few options, including coming into Asahikawa Airport or Wakkanai Airport, or coming from Sapporo via train.

You can watch polar bears up close through only a panel of glass at Asahiyama Zoo
You can watch polar bears up close through only a panel of glass at Asahiyama Zoo
The lavender fields in Furano are a beautiful purple in full bloom
The lavender fields in Furano are a beautiful purple in full bloom

3-2. <Message from a Dohoku-Area Company> Hoshino Resorts TOMAMU

Hoshino Resorts TOMAMU is Hokkaido’s largest residential resort, and it’s surrounded by magnificent nature. From spring through autumn, you can enjoy UNKAI Terrace and family areas, while in the winter you can visit the ski area and the “Ice Village,” so there are activities for you to enjoy here year-round!

Sea of Clouds Terrace (Open until October 15th in 2018)
UNKAI Terrace (Open until October 15th in 2018)
A town of ice that appears in the winter, “Ice Village”
A town of ice that appears in the winter, “Ice Village”

The Hoshino Resorts TOMAMU staff would like to tell our readers, “Hoshino Resorts TOMAMU is operating as per usual, and we’re eagerly awaiting your visit so that you can experience Hokkaido’s nature and foods.” Why not consider staying at Hoshino Resorts TOMAMU, a great place to stay no matter the season?

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4. Doutou Area’s Appeal

Doutou has several areas to visit, including the World Heritage Site of Shiretoko National Park in “Shiretoko,” the Ramsar Convention-registered Kushiro Marsh in “Kushiro,” and “Toyokoro,” where you can find beautifully glistening “jewelry ice” along the coast. Doutou is also famous for its wildlife, as it is inhabited by natural monument cranes, marimo, and Steller’s sea eagles. To reach the Doutou area, you can fly into Kushiro Airport or Nakashibetsu Airport, or take the train from Sapporo.

Shiretoko has been registered as a War Heritage Site
Shiretoko has been registered as a War Heritage Site
Kushiro Marsh is home to natural scenery that almost seems like it’s not part of Japan
Kushiro Marsh is home to natural scenery that almost seems like it’s not part of Japan
Jewelry ice in Toyokoro, visible from mid-January through mid-February
Jewelry ice in Toyokoro, visible from mid-January through mid-February

Each of Hokkaido’s locations continues to happily welcome travelers visiting from outside of Japan! Before or after the earthquake, the sentiment has always and will always remain the same! By all means, be sure to visit Hokkaido and help contribute to its recovery (through economic contributions of travel and other activities)!