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Hokkaido Sightseeing Guide - Visit notable attractions and landmarks

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Hokkaido is seen as Japan's last frontier, and the best attractions on the island are large swathes of national parkland. Each has its own seasonal attractions, from hiking to skiing, and millions of Japanese tourists come every month to enjoy the sites.

Shiretoko National Park is Hokkaido's most prominent park because it was honored with UNESCO World Heritage status. Other parks include Daisetsuzan, Akan and Shikotsu-Toya national parks, the set of which features hot springs, beautiful high-elevation lakes and a unique collection of wildlife and plants.

Despite its sprawling frontier, Hokkaido also hosts one of Japan's most cosmopolitan cities. Sapporo is the first stop tourists make on a visit to Hokkaido, and it boasts museums, art galleries and other cultural attractions. The best time to visit Sapporo is during the Snow Festival in February.

Sapporo

Hokkaido's capital and Japan's fifth-largest city, Sapporo is a local hub of culture. The city receives millions of tourists (mostly Japanese) every year, with a heavy influx during February's Sapporo Snow Festival (Yuki-matsuri) when the city is decorated with snow and ice sculptures.

Daisetsuzan National Park

The largest tract of parkland in Japan, Daisetsuzan's name means ‘Great Snowy Mountains.' The park includes 16 peaks that exceed 6,500 feet, the collection of which are cut with hiking trails. Resorts in Daisetsuzan National Park are especially popular in the winter, when skiers file in from across Japan.

Historical Museum

Hokkaido's Historical Museum is located in Sapporo and chronicles the rise of Japan's northernmost island in the context of the Empire. Exhibits explore the exploits of the Ezo Kingdom along with the plight of the indigenous Ainu ethnic group.

 

Shinhidaka

This Southern Hokkaido town is best visited in April and May when the cherry blossoms are in bloom. Nijikken-doro Road, the central tourist attraction, was built in the early 20th century on a royal commission and is lined with cherry trees transplanted from the surrounding mountains.

Shiretoko National Park

The most celebrated park in Hokkaido, Shiretoko National Park was awarded UNESCO World Heritage status due to its diverse subtropical forests and brown bear population. Visitors must either hike in or arrange transport by boat.

Akan National Park

Together with Daisetsuzan, Akan National Park is the oldest in Japan. It is famous for its hot springs and clear alpine lakes, especially Lake Akan, Lake Kussharo and Lake Mashu. Several high-standing observatories are accessible on foot and offer panoramic views of the countryside.

Hakodate

Hakodate is the ancient capital of the Ezo Republic, and its Motamachi historic quarter plays host to architecture dating to the 19th-century frontier outpost once found here. Fort Goryokaku is the defining landmark and is adjoined by an observation tower.

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