Hokkaido is a far cry from the technicolor lights and glamour of Tokyo. This prefecture holds 20% of Japan’s land mass but only 5% of its population, leading to plenty of open spaces and untouched natural riches. Sports enthusiasts flock here no matter the season, whether it’s hiking and bicycling in the summer or snowboarding and skiing in the winter. Any visitor looking to take deep breath away from the crowds of the larger cities should look no further than the serene tranquility of rural Hokkaido.
60-Second Geography – Hokkaido, Japan
- Also known as Heso-no-machi (Belly-Button Town) for its central location in Hokkaido, Furano is a popular skiing and wine-producing town in inland Japan. The city has a home-grown and rural feel to it, with vibrant lavender and flower-filled fields, cafés, and stands offering local snacks and specialties. Furano is perfect for any avid outdoorsman, with plenty of hiking, skiing, snowboarding, and bicycling, and no visitor can miss the chance to visit the stunning Shikisai no Oka fields.
- Daisetsuzan National Park, near the city of Furano, is the largest national park in Japan, spreading over 1,400 miles (2,260 kilometers). The name translates to “Great Snowy Peaks”, and the mountain range offers some of the most challenging and robust hiking trails in the country. The park is also famous for its onsens, traditional bath houses, as well as its wide variety of wildlife, including the Hokkaido brown bear and the pika.
- Considered a national treasure for the rare algae it grows under its surface, Lake Akan was formed many millenia ago due to volcanic activity. The lake has plenty for both families and single travelers, including sightseeing boat excursions, camping, and bicycling. Every year in October, the locals put on the Marimo Festival, a celebration of the round spheres of algae found in the lake, and to pray for the lake’s continued prosperity.
- Located in Shiretoko National Park, the Shiretoko Five Lakes are the most popular sight in the entire park. The five lakes are connected via railway, and a round trip to each lake will take you a total of an hour. The lakes are gorgeous for hiking, leisurely strolling, nature cruises, and wildlife watching.
- Lake Mashu is world-famous as one of the clearest lakes in the world, with visibility underwater between 60 and 100 feet (20 and 30 meters). Visitors can take in the breathtaking scenery of the lake from various observation towers around the perimeter. Hikers looking to get their blood pumping will love the different trails between the observation decks, and the lake also has food and shopping facilities for visitors.
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