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  • Lindsey Millerd

Hokkaido trip guide: 6 things you can't miss



I studied abroad in Hokkaido last summer and had a great time in this underrated region of Japan. I mainly stayed in Sapporo, the capital of the prefecture and visited the Chitose area for an extra vacation. I was only there in the warmer months, but the region is well-known for its snow festivals and other winter activities as it’s the northernmost island of Japan. It’s a beautiful island with activities ranging from flower fields in the warmer season and ski resorts in the cold. Here are a few of my recommendations to enjoy at any time of the year in Hokkaido


1. Mount Moiwa



The views from the top of this peak are absolutely breathtaking. There are several hiking paths up the mountain if you’re looking for an adventure. I journeyed up the mountain on foot during the day and by ropeway in the evening. It seems a lot more popular at night to see the cityscape, but during the day is special in its own right as you’re able to see the mountains and fields opposite of Sapporo city. Maybe go up before dark and hang out past sunset to get the best of both worlds. Up at the observation deck you can add a padlock and ring the bell of happiness with your partner or loved ones.


2. Nakajima Park



If you’re staying in the main city and want a little escape from the hustle, take a quick trip to Nakajima Park. This park is huge and is a perfect place to spend a whole day exploring. Have a picnic, row a boat in the pond and visit a shrine or two. The park even has a beautiful music hall that puts on frequent shows. I had a great time at a symphonic band concert one evening and the stroll through the park at night was so peaceful.


3. Odori Park



This park is a long strip in the middle of the city, perfect for a pit stop on your way to various shops and sites. There is a TV tower at one end, a huge fountain and colorful flowers scattered throughout. This park is full of excitement and has food vendors selling simple yet satisfying treats to keep you going through your busy days.


4. Lake Shikotsu



This was possibly my favorite stop on my trip. This massive lake in Chitose is closer to the main airport, kind of far from everything else but very worthy of the trip. The lake was breathtaking on a clear summer day. You can hop in a swan boat over the lake or just go for a stroll around the edge. The food options there were super tasty, ranging from roasted squid to ice cream.


5. Otaru



This is a mellow harbor city that’s great for a day trip. You can walk or take a boat down the canal that runs through the streets and admire the buildings with a blend of Japanese and Western architecture. The town is known for its superior seafood, music box museum and breweries. The town is also known for its glassware and you can find unique glass pieces scattered through gift shops and museums.


6. Soup curry



Not a place, but a must-try food! This spicy dish invented in Sapporo uses a mix of Japanese and Indian spices to create a rich flavor unlike anything else. It’s served in a bowl of its own where you can choose the spice level. Pair it with a side of rice topped with melted cheese for a surprisingly satisfying combination. I tried it at Soup Curry Garaku, but there are several other restaurants with this Hokkaido specialty.


If you’re a nature lover, Hokkaido has some of the most beautiful views I’ve ever seen. And even if you are looking for more of a city environment, Sapporo is quite a bustling spot with lots of dining and shopping options. If you’re planning a trip to Japan, don’t overlook this special northern island!

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