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HOKKAIDO Prefecture

Area: 83,454 km²
Population: 5,431 million
Island group: Japanese archipelago.
Capital: Sapporo

photo by nazmi hamidi

Hokkaido is Japan’s largest island and the largest of Japan’s 47 prefectures, its area accounting for 22% of Japan’s total land area. As an island, Hokkaido is the 21th largest island in the world.

The largest city in Hokkaido is its capital, Sapporo.
Sapporo is also the fourth largest city of Japan and best know internationally for having hosted the 1972 Winter Olympics, the first ever held in Asia.
The city has various historical buildings as well as shopping malls and parks and is is major tourist destination itself.
It is also known for the Sapporo Snow Festival, Hokkaido’s celebration of winter.
Hokkaido has the most magnificent natural beauty in Japan. Many incredible sight-seeing places are found throughout the prefecture and include incredible hot spring resorts, the Shikotsu-Toya National Park (named after its two famous lakes Toya and Shikotsu), the Shiretoko National Park (one of Japan’s most beautiful and unspoiled national parks), the Daisetsu Mountains( a beautiful volcanic group of peaks) and the Kushiro Swamp, Japan’s largest swamp.

Regardless of the season, there are always fun things to do and places to visit and if you wish to enjoy seasonal food and get to know the traditions, attending local events and festivals is the best way.
The Sapporo Snow Festival, which is now world-famous, takes place each year in February and the Furano Lavender Festival is held in summer.

In winter you can enjoy winter sports and other attractions at any of Hokkaido’s many ski resort.
The snowfall usually starts in November and the majority of the ski resorts are opened between December and April.
The high quality seafood is particularly fresh and delicious in Hokkaido.

The beauty of Hokkaido changes with each season, its unique culture and food variety attracting large numbers of tourists from around the world each year.
Locals are very welcoming and always willing to help if you’re in need.
By airplane
Sapporo's Chitose Airport is Hokkaido's only international gateway of significance, with flights to Hong Kong, Taipei, Kaohsiung, Shanghai, Beijing, Seoul and Busan. However, there are only limited international flights and most visitors will need to transit through hubs such as Tokyo and Osaka. The route between Tokyo and Sapporo is, in terms of capacity and planes flown daily, the busiest in the world.
Narita Airport and Haneda Airport are quite far apart from each other, so make sure you have at least 3 hours traveling time between airports in Tokyo.

By train
You cal also travel to Hokkaido by train (Seikan Tunnel, the longest undersea tunnel in the world, connects Hokkaido and mainland Japan) or by ferries.
Hokkaido has relatively cool summers and icy/snowy winters. The average August temperature ranges from 17 to 22 °C, while the average January temperature ranges from −12 to −4 °C.
Unlike the other major islands of Japan, Hokkaido is normally not affected by the June–July rainy season and the relative lack of humidity and typically warm, rather than hot, summer weather makes it a very popular domestic destination.
During summer, you should be fine if you wear a short-sleeved shirt, t-shirt or a dress, however a long sleeved shirt is highly recommended if you choose to go near water or to the mountains.
In the winter, be sure to bring warm clothes such as winter coat or jacket, hat, scarf and gloves. Winter boots are a must if you are planing to visit the mountains.
For the spring and autumn a light jacket should keep you warm.
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