A winter travel guide for Hokkaido

A winter travel guide for Hokkaido



If you want to enjoy a snowy winter wonderland while in Japan, then you must visit Hokkaido. In this feature, we introduce some of the top spots and resorts to enjoy the snowy landscapes of Japan.


Sapporo Snow Festival


Sapporo is the gateway to Hokkaido and this city hosts one of the best winter festivals in all of Japan, the Sapporo Snow Festival. It sees millions of visitors from within Japan and overseas. You can see massive snow and ice sculptures at three sites and these are illuminated at night creating a fairytale-like atmosphere. Other than the snow festival, you can also enjoy the many restaurants dotting the city. The Sapporo Snow Festival is held in February every year.


Enjoy snow sports


For those who wish to enjoy skiing in Hokkaido, there is no better place than Niseko. Known for its soft, powdery snow, it is popular among ski and snowboard lovers all over the world. In Sapporo, you can visit the Sapporo Kokusai Ski Resort.


Recommended ski resort hotels ● Yu Kiroro Otaru Asari Classe Hotel One Niseko Resort Towers Rusutsu Resort Hotel & Convention Niseko Grand Hotel


Night view from Mt. Moiwa


Mount Moiwa is a small mountain located in Hokkaido Prefecture and is known to have one of Japan's spectacular night views. You can also enjoy stargazing here. All you have to do is take the Moiwa Ropeway to the top and enjoy the stunning views. Whether you visit during the day or in the evening, you won't be disappointed.





Goryokaku is a Western-style, star-shaped citadel which can be viewed from the observation deck of the Goryokaku Tower closeby. It is well known as a cherry blossom viewing spot with as many as 1,600 trees; however, it has a completely different feel in winter. The citadel is lit up in the evening and looks gorgeous dusted in white all around. ➡ For more on Goryokaku, click here.


Ride on an icebreaker ship


The drift ice of Abashiri comes from the Amur River which freezes as it flows through the border between China and Russia gradually reaching the Sea of Okhotsk in January. As the ice moves down south of the sea, it becomes bigger and approaches the Abashiri region of Hokkaido around the end of January. As you gaze out into the sea, you see a mysterious sight of a huge ice mass floating on the sea. This is something you cannot miss when visiting Hokkaido in winter


Penguins at Asahiyama Zoo


Unlike other zoos, this zoo is just as enjoyable for adults as it is for kids. In winter, the highlight here is the penguin parade. Glancing sideways at spectators squealing excitedly and taking pictures, the penguins waddle toward their goal. They are so adorable that many people come from long distances to see them. A must see if you visit Hokkaido in winter.


Visit Otaru, the port city of Hokkaido


Otaru is another popular tourist destination in Hokkaido. Located only 30 kilometers from Sapporo, you can get here easily by train. Otaru was important for trade with Russia in the past. Today, the old warehouses along the Otaru Canal have been restored and you can see the canal beautifully lit up in the evening with snow piled on the rooftops.


Otaru Music Box Museum
Even though it has the title "museum" in its name, this is Japan's largest music box shop. A great place to purchase souvenirs.


Delicious Food Spots

Eat fresh seafood at Nijo Market


Nijo Market in Sapporo is a well-known seafood market with a history of more than 100 years. It opens early in the morning and is a great spot for those who love delicacies like sushi, sashimi and seafood such as crabs and sea urchin.


Kikuyo Shokudo (きくよ食堂)


One of the best places to order donburi bowls topped with scrumptious seafood, check out our feature on this restaurant to know more.


Ganso Sapporo Ramen Yokocho


Sapporo Ramen is one of the most popular dishes from Sapporo and where else to try it than the original ramen alley. Known to be the birthplace of miso ramen, you can taste the richness of the miso broth ramen in any of the ramen shops here.


Crab Hot Pot
What better dish to enjoy in winter than a comforting hot pot? The best part is in Hokkaido you can enjoy crab hot pot made using the famous large red crabs that are especially delicious in winter. ● Kaniya Sapporo Crab House Main Branch Sekkatei


Ramen Sapporo Akaboshi
Popular yet surprisingly affordable ramen shop, Akaboshi is known for its distinctive noodles that bring out the flavor of the broth. Their original condiment called “Saba ninniku ko,” mackerel and garlic powder, elevates the taste of this ramen to the next level. ➡ For further details, click here.


Recommended hotels

Stay at an onsen hotel in a snowy town!


No trip to Japan in winter would be complete without an onsen stay. Below is a list of amazing hotels to enjoy hot springs in Hokkaido. Sounkyo Kankou Hotel is particularly well known with beautiful open-air baths. List of recommended hot spring hotels Sounkyo Kanko Hotel Asahidake Onsen Hostel Case House Hokkaido Contactless CHECKIN/OUT Hokkaido 7-inn Toyoko Inn Hokkaido Asahikawa Ekimae Ichijo-dori



Centrally-located hotels


Hotel karaksa


Classy and simple with a modern Japanese style, there are 110 rooms in total at Hotel karaksa. You can choose between single, double as well as interconnecting rooms. There are also shared baths for you to relax in after a day of travel. Centrally located, it is convenient to get around the city from here. ➡ For reservations through Agoda.


Best Western Plus Hotel Fino Chitose


Another convenient place to stay is the Best Western Plus Hotel Fino Chitose in central Sapporo. Close to Chitose Station, it is very easy to get around town and visit various tourist attractions. ➡ For reservations through Agoda For more details, click here.


Hope you find this feature helpful to plan your trip to Hokkaido in winter.
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