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5 Picturesque Spots in Hokkaido
Hokkaido is the biggest prefecture in Japan. On this wide land that's full of nature, there are many places that are so beautiful you'll become speechless when you see them. Here are 5 recommended spots of natural beauty in Hokkaido.
1. Aoiike (The Blue Pond)
The sight of the blue lake and the standing withered trees brings a spiritual atmosphere to Aoiike, an area thirty minutes by car east from Biei, a town famous for lavender fields. Aoiike is a man-made lake near the Biei River, a river that runs through woodlands. Originally Aoiike was dug to protect the town from the volcanic mud flow from Mt. Tokachi's 1988 eruption, but since it was built near the Biei River, water from the dike came in and it became a reservoir lake. The Shirogane hot springs gush water into the river basin above Aoiike, and the minerals in that water mix with the water from the Biei River to create colloids. When the colloids are lit by the sun, it reflects back blue light, making the water look very blue. The mysterious color created by nature is so beautiful it will make you hold your breath. The sight of the lake in the early morning of sunny, windless days is a sight to be beheld! You can gaze upon the limpid, mirror-like water. Mid-May to early June is the best time to see Aoiike. If you have plans to go to Hokkaido, definitely make your way over.
2. Oshinkoshin Falls
Even within Hokkaido, the Shiretoko Peninsula on the easternmost part of Hokkaido is a place where precious nature still remains. Oshinkoshin Falls, one of the sightseeing areas in the Shiretoko Peninsula, is counted among the Shiretoko eight picturesque sights and was chosen as one of the top 100 waterfalls in Japan. Oshinkoshin Falls is the biggest waterfall on the Shiretoko Peninsula, and halfway through it splits into two falls, so it's also called "Futami no Taki" ("waterfalls of twin beauty"). It's split on a cliff that's about 80m high, so the sight of the water packs a full punch. In June, thanks to the added amount of water from the snow thaw, the water rushes down in huge amounts with a thunderous roar. Be careful of getting splashed! There's an observation platform above the falls so you can see the waterfalls thunder below you as well as gaze on the Sea of Okhotsk and the Shiretoko mountain range. It's a great view especially for those who want to enjoy the waterfalls undisturbed. If you listen to the sound of the waterfalls in the middle of the verdant forest, you should feel a natural power that won't run out.
3. Unkai Terrace
"Unkai Terrace is a cafe part of Hoshino Resorts TOMAMU, and it's called the cafe closest to heaven. This cafe space is on an observation space where you can see a sea of clouds. To reach the terrace, you take a gondola from the base of Mt. Tomamu for 13 minutes until you reach 1,088m above sea level. The Unkai Terrace is a huge balcony that was created near the mountain summit. Since the Terrace is built at a superb level just above the sea of clouds, it's so close that it seems like you'll be able to touch it. The sight of the mountains surrounding the pure white clouds changing color with the moving sun is so fantastic you'll be speechless. The best time to see the sea of clouds is from mid-May to late October. The sea of clouds is cold air warmed up by the sun, so if you want to see it you have to see it between 5:00 am and 8:00 am, so this is a sight that must be seen in early morning. *Depending on the weather, the sea of clouds may not form."
4. Taushubetsu River Bridge
Taushubetsu River Bridge is a concrete arched bridge over Nukabira Lake in Kamishihoro-cho that was originally built for the former national railroad. This wondrous bridge looks like an ancient Roman aqueduct, and since the sight of it changes drastically depending on the volume of water in the lake it's also called "the bridge of illusions." It changes every year, but usually around June when the lake swells the bridge looks like it's beginning to sink. By October the bridge is completely underwater. But in January, when the water levels falls, the bridge appears again over the frozen surface. Also, on sunny days when there's no wind, the arches of the bridge reflected in the water look like glasses, so it's sometimes called "Meganebashi" ("the eyeglasses bridge"). Since there were multiple incidents involving traffic accidents, only vehicles with permission are able to pass through the woods leading up to the bridge, so if you want to see the bridge you should park at the parking lot along highway 273. There's an observation platform on the lake shore there so it's recommended that you look at the bridge from there.
5. Cape Kamui
Cape Kamui is in the center of Hokkaido's west coast, a cape protruding northwest from the Shakotan Peninsula. It's part of the Niseko-Shakotan-Otaru Kaigan Quasi-National Park. If you park at the base of the cape and walk along the promenade called the Charenka Road for about 30 minutes, you'll reach the tip. The sight of the ocean from the cape is picturesque. The sea unfolds right before your eyes and the unobstructed sky meet at the horizon, which looks ever-so-slightly rounded. You'll definitely feel the fact that the world is round. In front of the cape is a reef called "the Kamui rock" that is a sacred Shinto object, and the sight of it tells stories about the mystery of nature to us. Why not feel the power of nature yourself in Hokkaido's vast land?
It's worth going to Hokkaido at least once to see the beauty and the impact of its vast, verdant nature. Please experience it yourself.
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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