The enchanting prefecture of Hokkaido provides a picturesque paradise in any season during your 11-day Japan tour. You can reconnect with nature in winter as you speed down pristine ski slopes or in spring as you stroll through lush lavender fields. You can relax in the comforting warmth of natural hot springs and indulge in the blissful flavors of fresh seafood as the spirit of Hokkaido endlessly captivates you.
Sapporo – Welcome to the North
Arriving at New Chitose International Airport in the early evening, you will be greeted at baggage claim. While at the airport, your guide makes arrangements for your rental cellular phone, which allow for 24/7 assistance in case any issues should arise during your tour.
After taking a train to Sapporo’s city center, check into your hotel. Before turning in for the evening, read over your specially prepared itinerary.
Otaru – A Seafood Lover’s Dream
Day 3 - 4
Furano – Where Skiing, Wine, and Cheese Converge
Day 5 - 6
Abashiri – Explore Hokkaido’s Northern Frontier
Kawayu Onsen – Insulate Yourself Against the Cold
Day 8 - 9
Kushiro – Get Up Close with Japanese Wildlife
Sapporo – Magnificent Snow and Comforting Ramen
Hokkaido – A Temporary Goodbye
- Dine on Japan’s finest seafood in Otaru, fresh from Sankaku Fish Market
- Ski the slopes in Furano, which provides accessible terrain for all skill levels
- Explore Japan’s most pristine and famous national parks
- Relax in a variety of onsen baths throughout Hokkaido
- See Japanese wildlife such as red-crowned cranes in their natural habitat
Out of all of Japan’s 47 prefectures, Hokkaido is the most northern, and also the most unique. Thousands of years ago, Hokkaido’s original residents were the Ainu, a culture very similar to Native Americans. Even after the Japanese settled Hokkaido in the late 19th century, the prefecture continues to express its Ainu heritage through its culture and cuisine.
You arrive in Sapporo, the capital of Hokkaido and the island’s largest city. On your first day, this city is your base of operations as you take a day trip to Otaru, once a major fishing center. The city’s artisans are cultural descendants of the men and women who made millions of glass floats for the fishing industry. They now create some of the finest glass art found in Japan. The city is also known for its seafood, especially the massive King Crab caught fresh from the local shores.
From Otaru, you begin your circumnavigation of Hokkaido. Furano is a city known for its stunning beauty in both the winter and spring; when the snow covered slopes transform into fragrant fields of lavender. Skiers will have plenty to do in the wintertime, and may spend their two days hitting the slopes. If skiing is not your activity of choice, the city’s cheese factory and winery give visitors an insider's look at these two local products.
In the wintertime, Abashiri is one of Japan’s most isolated coastal cities. While there, take a bay cruise to hear the sea ice crunch against the ship’s hull. Also, due to its location, Abashiri is home to the ‘Alcatraz of Japan.’ This preserved prison offers foreign visitors an up close and personal view of Japan’s penal system. Abashiri is also the first stop on the tour featuring a Japanese inn and onsen baths, warm mineral waters that insulate you against even the harshest winters. This is also the first evening you dine on kaiseki ryori, Japan’s indigenous cuisine.
Your relaxation in Hokkaido’s warm waters continues the next day at Kawayu Onsen, a resort town featuring a variety of onsen baths. Your hotel this evening has some of the best onsens in Hokkaido, and dinner is included along with a variety of other amenities only found in Japanese ryokans.
During the winter, Kushiro is a temperate oasis that receives much less snow than the rest of Hokkaido. Kushiro is also home to the Japanese Crane Reserve. Take a half day to observe these majestic creatures in their natural habitat. If you go during the right time of year, it is possible to see crane chicks being born.
Kushiro is also a great place to take in Japanese city life, and explore like one of the locals. The city’s waterfront presents great views and a variety of dining and shopping opportunities. If the weather should turn cold or foggy, the city’s EGG (Ever Green Garden) attraction gives residents and visitors alike the chance to take shelter in an indoor park where the everything from the temperature to the humidity is carefully modulated for an ideal garden experience.
Your last full day is spent back in Sapporo, where for one week in February each year, artists from around Japan and the world come together to make hundreds of exquisite snow structures. This temporary art encapsulates the Japanese mentality of mono no aware, an awareness of the impermanence of beauty and life. After building an appetite exploring Sapporo, feast on ramen, the city’s signature dish that world famous chefs such as Anthony Bourdain have come to Sapporo just to sample.
This 11-day tour is perfect for couples or small groups traveling in the winter or early spring. In these two seasons, Hokkaido’s natural beauty is at its peak. Even if you take the tour in the summer, the island’s mild temperature, lack of a rainy season, and low humidity make for pleasant weather for each day of your journey.
$5,715 per person (excluding international flights)
Your Zicasso trip is fully customizable, and this sample itinerary is a starting place for your travel plans. Actual costs are dynamic, and your selection of accommodations and activities, your season of travel, and other such variables will bring this budget guideline up or down. Throughout your planning experience with your Zicasso specialist, your itinerary is designed around your budget. You can book your trip when you are satisfied with every detail. Planning your trip with a Zicasso travel specialist is a free service.
- In-country transportation
- Some or all activities and tours
- Expert trip planning
- 24x7 support during your trip
Your final trip cost will vary based on your selected accommodations, activities, meals, and other trip elements that you opt to include.
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