5 Things You Have to Do in Hokkaido in the Summer [2018 Edition]
Hokkaido is a vast area that is blessed with magnificent nature. It may have a strong image as a sightseeing destination during the winter, but it actually houses a lot of spots and offers many activities that you can enjoy during the summer too. Below are five ways to enjoy yourselves in Hokkaido on those summer days.
1. Go to the Lavender Fields (Furano)
The lavender fields in Furano are a classic feature of summer in Hokkaido. The Traditional Lavender Field of Farm Tomita, in particular, is famous throughout the country. Here, an entire side of a slope is covered with lavenders, making it look like a purple carpet. The Nakafurano Choei Lavender Farm is also recommended. It is a spot where you will get to enjoy a panoramic view of an idyllic countryside and a blanket of lavender field against a backdrop of the grand Tokachidake Mountain Range. The lavenders begin to bloom in late June for some of the early blooming varieties, but the blooming period peaks around mid-July. Meanwhile, there are lavenders as well as various other flowers planted along Hanabito Kaido (Flower Road) (National Route 237), painting the vast area in vivid colors.
2. Visit the Fields of Alpine Plants (Rebun Island)
Rebun Island is a remote island found at the northernmost tip of Japan. Located within a zone of cool climate, this spot is a place where you can see unique vegetation, and around 300 kinds of alpine plants in bloom during the summer. Given this picturesque landscape, this island has also come to be called “Hana no Ukishima” (Floating Island of Flowers). On the island, the Rebun-cho Kozan Shokubutsu-en (Rebun Botanical Garden of Alpine Plants) is famous, as it is a place where you can enjoy 20,000 alpine plants of about 50 varieties. The trail (6.4km) leading to the Momoiwa Observatory is also recommended. From there, you can take in the views of the fields of alpine plants set against the backdrop of the coast and the blue sea.
Admission fee to Rebun Botanical Garden of Alpine Plants: 300 JPY
3. Challenge the Sunflower Maze at Himawari no Sato (Hokuryu Town)
Himawari no Sato (Sunflower Garden), the biggest one of its kind in Japan, has been gaining popularity among tourists from abroad. Here, the top of the approximately 23ha hill is planted with 1.5 million sunflower plants. You can witness a sight of breathtaking beauty, where the landscape, as far as your eyes can see, is turned into a yellowy gold field by the blooming sunflowers. The Himawari Matsuri (Sunflower Festival) is held every year from mid-July to late August, and during its run, various events are held at the garden. One of the popular events is the Himawari Meiro (Sunflower Maze) (300 JPY). An elaborate labyrinth is set up within the sunflower field each year.
4. Frolic in the Nature of Shiretoko (Shiretoko Shari Town)
Shiretoko, located in the northeastern part of Hokkaido, is a treasure trove of nature, and is known as the last unexplored region of Japan. Registered as a World Natural Heritage Site, when you come here, you will see spread before you such spots as the magical Shiretoko Five Lake that stands within a primeval forest. Within Shiretoko, the Kamuiwakka Yu no Taki (Kamuiwakka Falls) is popular. It is a mysterious spot where the basin under the waterfall has turned into a natural open-air bath. The temperature of the water reaches about 30 degrees during the summer, and throngs of tourists come dressed in swimsuits to soak in the bath and enjoy playing in the water.
※The waterfall is acidic, so people with sensitive skin need to be cautious. The path to the fall may be closed, depending on the season. Please visit their official website for details.
5. Eat Genghis Khan
Enjoying food in the expansive outdoors by sitting on a terrace seat or staying in a campground is one of the true pleasures of summer in Hokkaido. Food that is eaten while surrounded by nature has a truly superb taste. The one dish that you have to try when you visit is the local soul food of Hokkaido called Genghis Khan, a dish that is made by grilling lamb with vegetables on a special iron pot (Genghis Khan nabe). There is a special sauce for Genghis Khan, but the seasonings of such sauce vary by region. Different versions of this dish also exist, such as the Ajitsuke-ha in the inland areas, in which the meat is marinated in the sauce before it is grilled, and the Atozuke-ha in the coastal areas, where the meat is dipped in the sauce after it is grilled.
To those of you who are planning to go sightseeing in Hokkaido in the summer, please use this article as a reference when making your itinerary.
*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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