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Hokkaido trip in December | What is the climate, clothing, and fees? Recommended Activities In-depth Guide

Hokkaido trip in December | What is the climate, clothing, and fees? Recommended activities

Entering the real winter Hokkaido in December .

Sapporo or Asahikawa Snow began to pile up in each city in Hokkaido, snow activity will also begin to be implemented. Although the cold is getting harsher, The season when Hokkaido gets hot is the beginning!

In this article, Hokkaido in December We will give you lots of information that will be useful when planning your trip, such as how to enjoy it, tips on choosing clothes, and areas to look out for!

color early winter Manufacturing experience , play with snow winter activities Recommended experiences such as Ranking format I will introduce it here. Year-end travel and homecoming Please use this information in your planning.

table of contents

  • 1 Reasons why you should visit Hokkaido in December
  • 2 Recommended Hokkaido Travel Areas in December
  • 3 Hokkaido temperature comparison in December
  • 4 December Hokkaido clothing and coordination ideas
  • 5 Hokkaido in December Recommended Activities, Leisure, Experiences and Fun
  • 6 Ranking of Popular Activities You Can Experience in Hokkaido in December
  • 7 Editorial department recommended feature articles

Reasons why you should visit Hokkaido in December

Snow and ice season begins.

Reasons why you should visit Hokkaido in December

In Hokkaido in December, Snowfall is common . Hokkaido Snow can start falling as early as the end of October, so December is already in the middle of the snow and ice season.

Snow can remain until late April! It is not uncommon for Hokkaido to experience snowy scenery for nearly half a year.

Reasons why you should visit Hokkaido in December

In addition to daily snowfall, the snow that piles up high on the side of the road due to snow removal becomes root snow and freezes. The road is very difficult to walk on Become. As a countermeasure Sapporo Underground malls and underground passages have been constructed that are easy to walk around even during snowy weather. Plans are currently underway to extend the underground passageway, and it looks like it will become even more convenient!

December, Hokkaido If you are bringing a carry-on bag or using a stroller with small children, Walkable underground mall It would be a good idea to look it up on a map in advance.

A season of nostalgia

Reasons why you should visit Hokkaido in December 2.

It's snowing and the colors of winter are getting darker Hokkaido in December . Feel pensive, nostalgic, or calm your mind. A season of tranquility is. Create artistic works in a relaxing time Manufacturing experience Then you can enjoy it without worrying about the cold!

Otaru area Glasswork is popular here. In contrast to the cold outside warm burner flame It might be a good idea to take a closer look at and immerse yourself in an artistic glasswork experience. In addition, Otaru in winter nostalgic atmosphere wrapped in charter taxi We also recommend taking a tour of Otaru.

Otaru Glass Honpo - Japanese storehouse -

[Hokkaido/Otaru City] Otaru sightseeing before and after the "fusing experience" experience that combines your favorite glass to make small items!

Fusing is a method of combining various types of glass and applying heat to melt them. At our shop, we arrange colorful glass beads on a glass plate of your choice and heat it in an electric kettle. You can make accessories with cute patterns that look like embedded beads.

Hokkaido Tourism Individual Ikuta Taxi

[Hokkaido/Otaru] Chartered taxi "Otaru sightseeing free plan" (half-day course)

  • (2 reviews and testimonials)

★Enjoy the scenery of historical buildings, the Sea of Japan, and seafood ★Example course: JR Otaru Station or a hotel in the city → Tanaka Sake Brewery → Music Box/Glass → Otaru Canal Stroll → Otaru North Canal → Herring Palace → Otaru Takashima Cape → Kihinkan Former Aoyama Villa → Financial Museum → Tomioka Catholic Church → Mt. Tengu (Ski Museum/Tengu House) → Dining and shopping

It tends to be crowded at the end of the year

Reasons why you should visit Hokkaido in December 3.

Sightseeing spots that you want to visit only in winter, Hokkaido . While the weather is bitterly cold, December tends to be crowded with more tourists looking for snow and ice as well as people returning to their hometowns at the end of the year. After Christmas, Hokkaido enters the so-called "tourist season." Travel expenses such as hotels and flights will also increase. Nowadays, many people make travel reservations at the last minute. early booking discount It is recommended to use such as Plan early, book early But that's the key to a great value trip!

Reasons why you should visit Hokkaido in December Illuminations in Sapporo

Every year in December, Sapporo At various places in the city Illuminations and light up event will be held. Some venues have been held for several months; December only There is also a venue that decorates objects associated with Christmas. If you're visiting Hokkaido in December, be sure to check it out.

Air Choice Co., Ltd.

【Hokkaido・千歳/支笏】【9011】土・日・祝日出発:ライトアップされた幻想的な氷像 夜の支笏湖氷濤まつりへ行こう!

Let's go to the Lake Shikotsu Ice Festival, one of Hokkaido's three major winter events! The fantastic ice sculptures illuminated by colorful lights are a must-see. ~Schedule~ [Departures on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays] ●ANA Crowne Plaza Hotel Sapporo (Meet at 15:20/15:

Recommended Hokkaido Travel Areas in December

Central hokkaido area.

Hokkaido trip in December

" Central Hokkaido area ” refers to Sapporo, the prefectural capital of Hokkaido, and the surrounding areas. Hokkaido's largest city Sapporo , Also known as "Okuzashiki in Sapporo" Jozankei , "Canal City" Otaru , popular for powder snow Niseko Rusutsu famous for hot springs Toya and Noboribetsu you can experience the majestic nature Ishikari/Sorachi , Sacred place of Ainu culture・ Hidaka Erimo It is full of Hokkaido-like charm such as Central Hokkaido area is.

Hokkaido trip in December

The gateway to Hokkaido, located in the central Hokkaido area. New Chitose Airport . Does anyone think that an airport is just a place for getting on and off planes? New Chitose Airport, which is also an international airport, has restaurants that are popular in Hokkaido such as conveyor belt sushi, a chocolate factory tour facility, and even a hot spring! The arrival and departure dates are spend time in the airport How about You can play to your heart's content without worrying about going past the check-in time.

Besides, you can enjoy without worrying about the weather Manufacturing experience There are many fulfilling experience plans such as. Areas that people tend to pass through only when planes take off and land Dare to choose What do you think?

HOSE GARDEN MURANAKA

[Hokkaido Eniwa City] Dosanko horse trekking

  • (18 reviews/testimonials)

Would you like to ride outside with the cute "Dosanko" in the nature of the four seasons? It is located right next to the Eniwa Interchange on the highway, between New Chitose Airport, the gateway to Hokkaido, and Sapporo, making access very convenient! If you feel like you have a little time before your flight, please contact us immediately. We will pick you up from JR Eniwa Station for free. Please feel free to make a reservation.

Central Hokkaido in December Recommended Reasons

Central Hokkaido in December Recommended reason 1

entered the winter season Hokkaido in December . For those who are not used to snow, Even walking on a snowy road is difficult You may feel ugly.

Even paved flat roads are not easy to navigate with large suitcases and bags. If the snow is piled up under your feet, it will be even more difficult! Especially when traveling with small children or three generations, Travel distance and time as compact as possible I want to finish it. Hokkaido New Chitose Airport, which can be said to be the gateway to the area, is located in the central Hokkaido area. If your destination is in the central Hokkaido area, you will not have to worry about getting around, and you will be able to use your time effectively.

Central Hokkaido in December Recommended reason 2

The central Hokkaido area includes Hokkaido's largest city, Sapporo there is. Hokkaido in December When traveling, skiing, etc. winter sports , a zoo tour popular with children, and local gourmet tours, Charm of Hokkaido packed tightly Sapporo We recommend building your schedule around this! Central Hokkaido area There are countless fun spots!

Hokkaido temperature comparison in December

December hokkaido clothing and coordination ideas, clothing point.

What to wear in Hokkaido in December

In Hokkaido in December, the average temperature is below freezing. Midwinter climate . There are days in Tokyo and Osaka where you can wear just a trench coat, but in December Hokkaido When traveling, a down jacket, etc. sturdy winter clothes be prepared.

You also need to be careful about your feet. It's a good idea to wear warm shoes that won't slip easily, such as boots made for snow or cold-weather shoes with boas on the inside. At the same time, use gloves and mufflers in the middle of winter. Preparing winter accessories Also don't forget!

In addition, the more you can wear short sleeves indoors, Heating works well That's not uncommon either. temperature difference between indoors and outdoors Think about this, and try to make it easy to put on and take off, such as wearing thin layers.

What to bring (example)

Hokkaido in december recommended activities, leisure, experiences and fun, snow shoes/snow trekking.

Snow shoes/Snow trekking

You can fully enjoy the winter of Hokkaido, the land of the north. Snow shoes/Snow trekking ”. While traveling through snowy mountains and forest roads Observing winter flora and fauna I enjoy doing things like that.

a walking tool called a snowshoe By wearing it, it will sink deeply into shoes and boots. Easy to walk on snow Become. This is a must-try activity in Hokkaido in December!

HORTO Sapporo

[Hokkaido/Sapporo suburbs] Guaranteed 1 tent per group/Enjoy smelt fishing while avoiding crowds+more 1-day experience 2023-24

  • (11 reviews/testimonials)

This is a smelt fishing experience that you can enjoy in the ponds and river lakes of the Ishikari River system, about 50 minutes from the center of Sapporo. In the era of Corona, we need to avoid fishing methods where people are crowded together in tents of about 1 tsubo (about 1 tsubo), follow the new Hokkaido guidelines and go-to travel, and at the same time provide winter fun without any reservations. Masu. So, we went on the ice with our customers.

n.s ride

[Hokkaido/Sapporo] Powder snow forest snowshoe trekking tour trekking guide and photographer accompanying plan! We are happy to offer free photos and videos★

This is a powder snow forest Sapporo snowshoe trekking tour where you walk crunchily on deep snow. Unlike snowboarding or skiing, it's an easy way to play in the snow that anyone can do! ! ★During the tour, we will have fun taking photos and videos★While the game is easy to play, the way to play is authentic! ! When you enter a forest covered in powdery snow, the first thing you see is the snow piled up on the trees.

Guide Office Pika

[Hokkaido/Biei] Unexplored snowshoe tour with a professional guide in Shirokane Onsen

This is a snowshoe tour that takes you to the hidden spots of Shirokane Onsen, which is surrounded by white birch forests in the depths of Biei. We will aim for the ``Blue River,'' the Biei River that has the same cobalt blue color as the Blue Pond. A professional guide will give you various lectures on the key points of winter mountain hiking. We provide free transportation to and from Asahikawa Station and Biei Station. Snowshoe debut for a different snowshoe experience

backcountry

A scene from a backcountry training session held by the Hokkaido operator "TAC Tokachi Adventure Club"

Downhill on skis or snowboards in places other than controlled areas such as slopes backcountry ”. Just like playing with snow, Powder snow in Hokkaido It is an activity that you can fully enjoy.

A certain level of skiing skill is required, but you can rest assured that a guide will accompany you. note that, Consider safety But, be sure to go to the backcountry. Take a tour with an expert guide and experience let's do it.

Noborigaeshi Club

[Hokkaido/Furano] Backcountry guided tour to the "secret mountain"

We will tow a snowmobile to the bottom of the mountain where not many people go, and then hike up. This is a tour for experts as the hike is difficult. ~ Flow of the day ~ 8:00 Meet at Lawson and travel to your destination (15 minutes) After advance briefing and equipment confirmation, we will depart. 12:30 Arrive at the summit, have lunch If the weather is good, aim for the summit.

Noborigaeshi Club

[Hokkaido/Furano] Backcountry guided tour to "Mt. Furano"! Fun for everyone from beginners to experts!

The Furano/Biei area, home to the majestic Tokachidake mountain range, has many mountains over 2,000 meters high. Among them, Mt. Furano is relatively easy to access, and we will guide you to the most suitable area, taking into account the weather and snow quality of the day. ~ Flow of the day ~ 8:00: Parking space next to the bus stop After receiving a pre-departure briefing and checking your equipment, you will depart. 10:30 Arrive at the top

Noborigaeshi Club

[Hokkaido/Furano] Backcountry guided tour to "Mae-Tokachidake"! Fun for everyone from beginners to experts!

The Furano/Biei area, home to the majestic Tokachidake mountain range, has many mountains over 2,000 meters high. Among them, we will guide you to the most suitable area, taking into account the weather and snow quality of the day, Mt. Mae-Tokachi, which is relatively easy to access. ~ Procedure of the day ~ 8:00 We will depart after giving a preliminary explanation and confirming the equipment. 10:30 Arrive at the summit If the weather is good

Smelt fishing/Ice fishing for smelt

Smelt fishing tour on ice conducted by Hokkaido operator "Onuma Yusen"

In Hokkaido, from the end of December, " Smelt fishing ” will be lifted. tool rental and cooking the fish you catch, Availability of toilets and tents If you participate in a smelt fishing tour, you can reduce your worries.

In addition to smelt fishing, Snowmobile Such, along with other activities There are also tours for you to enjoy.

FUN outdoor activities

[Hokkaido/Minamifurano/Tomamu] Smelt fishing on ice with a winter tradition at Lake Kanayama-With tempura after fishing! From 6 years old OK

  • (8 reviews/testimonials)

Drill a hole in the frozen lake and set a device! With just this, all you have to do is pull the string after biting. Leave the troublesome drilling, baiting, setting of gimmicks, etc. to the guide! If you learn a little trick, even beginners and children can feel free to experience it! After catching it, fry it on the spot and make it into tempura! Freshly fried and piping hot on the spot you caught is the best!

Ranking of Popular Activities You Can Experience in Hokkaido in December

Ranking of Popular Activities You Can Experience in Hokkaido in December

In December Hokkaido We have summarized the information for you when traveling to! What did you think. sightseeing spots, clothes, etc. Reference for travel planning Please try it.

Hokkaido is covered with snow in December. Besides introducing Snowmobile or Bus tour Such, Hokkaido in winter Activity Japan handles many plans and tours to enjoy. Hokkaido in December , once the itinerary is decided, flight and hotel reservations at the same time Plan and book activities Also don't forget!

*Information on plans, fees, introduced facilities, etc. is current as of September 2023.

Editorial department recommended feature articles

Hokkaido souvenir popular & recommended ranking [latest] images

We would like to express our sincere gratitude for your continued patronage.

At our company, in order for many customers to enjoy various activities all over Japan safely and with peace of mind, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare's " Basic Policy for Countermeasures against Coronavirus Infectious Diseases " and " Let's Avoid the Three Cs "・ Based on the " new lifestyle ", we recommend the following infectious disease countermeasures to the operator.

  • Instructors and participants keep a sufficient distance
  • Use masks as much as possible while participating
  • Ventilate frequently, avoiding closed spaces
  • Thorough hand washing and disinfection
  • Thorough disinfection of equipment
  • Health management of customers and employees, etc.

For infection prevention measures of the operating company, please refer to [Appeal points for safety] or [Notes on participating in the course ] of each operating company information at the bottom of the plan reservation page, and for details, please contact each operating company directly. Please contact us.

You can also check the following page for information on the efforts of activity companies in each region!

How to enjoy new activities in the after / with corona era

Even if you are a customer, when you continue to go out, in addition to avoiding so-called [three secrets], cough etiquette, thorough hand washing and alcohol disinfection, etc., on June 19, 2020 (Friday), Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, sightseeing Please be aware of the [new travel etiquette ] announced by the Japan Tourism Agency, take actions to avoid the risk of infectious diseases, and enjoy activities and leisure activities safely.

Even now, there are tourist facilities and activity operators whose business hours and dates have changed. Please check the calendar status at the time of application and check the latest information with each operator even after the reservation is completed. Please check with each operator regarding whether or not there is a cancellation fee due to sudden closure of the facility, cancellation of the activity experience, etc.

In addition, Activity Japan also offers an "online experience" service where you can enjoy various activities!

[Online experience] New experience online anywhere

The "online experience" service is digital content that can be expected to create a new community by connecting customers with local and tourism businesses on a daily basis. Those who have difficulty going out due to circumstances, those who want to try but are uneasy about having a real experience suddenly, those who want to collect local information to plan future trips and stay plans, etc. Feel free to meet local instructors and guides online and enjoy a conversation while experiencing a simulated experience!

Please use it together.

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hokkaido december travel

Your Hokkaido Winter Adventure Starts Here

February 20, 2023 by Robert Schrader Leave a Comment

My first winter trip to Hokkaido  did not go as planned. I’d gotten bad advice from the tourist board, which saw me mostly squander the five days I had on the island (which would not have been enough, even if I’d had the perfect plan for how to use them).

Since then—2015—re-visiting Hokkaido during winter and doing the island justice has been one of my top travel priorities. Unfortunately, Japan’s covid-19 restrictions spoiled my plans to do this in 2021 and 2022, which meant that it took me until 2023—eight years—to make good on my promise.

Which makes this Hokkaido winter itinerary all the more interesting—and bulletproof. In travel as in life more broadly, correcting failure is often the quickest (and best) way to arrive at success.

Hokkaido is More Than Just Skiing

When most people think of Hokkaido in winter, they think of skiing at Niseko. I’m here to tell you, as someone who has only skied a handful of times in his adult life, that you can fully enjoy Hokkaido without setting foot anywhere near Niseko. In fact, while I’d like to visit Niseko one day in order to get some pictures, it’s always been the farthest thing from my mind as I explore Hokkaido.

On the other hand, if you do come to Hokkaido to enjoy Japan’s famous ja-pow , then all the rest of what I’m recommending will be even more enticing. Imagine exploring Hokkaido for a week, then rewarding yourself with the world’s best skiing? Or vice-versa. Whether or not you care about skiing, Hokkaido is a top winter destination for a reason.

My Favorite Hokkaido Winter Destinations and Experiences

Sapporo snow festival.

hokkaido december travel

The bad news? If you want to take part in the Sapporo Snow Festival , you’re need to make sure your winter Hokkaido trip takes place between February 4-11 or thereabouts. The good news? Even if you can’t come at this time, there’s plenty to enjoy in Sapporo in winter, even if you simply enjoy views from Mt. Moiwa and Sapporo TV Tower by day, or drink and karaoke your way through Susukino at night.

Hokkaido Winter Cuisine

hokkaido december travel

Food is one of the best reasons to visit Hokkaido in winter! This is especially true if you come during the snow festival, when all kinds of different options—crab soup, oden and Wagyu skewers, to name just a few—are on offer within one small area. Even if you don’t come at this time, you’ll have your fill of warming foods like ramen and Japanese curry most anywhere in Hokkaido you choose to travel.

Otaru Canal

hokkaido december travel

I’ll be honest: Many unwitting travelers are stumped as to why they should make a point of visiting a canal during their trip. Even if you disregard how picturesque Otaru Canal is, particularly during winter and especially at night, the town built up around it is a great half-day trip from Sapporo. It’s home to many Western-style buildings and glass-blowing shops, to say nothing of all the cuisine.

Noboribetsu Onsen

hokkaido december travel

As would be the case on Japan’s main island of Honshu, visiting an onsen is an essential part of any Hokkaido winter trip. In Noboribetsu , which is about 90 minutes from Sapporo by limited express train, swimming in hot springs is just the beginning. You can hike in Jigokudani (aka Hell Valley), where rising plumes of steam give you the impression of being in the underworld.

Asahikawa Penguin Parade

hokkaido december travel

I’ll be honest: I’m not generally a fan of zoos in Japan, or anywhere in Asia. Standards for the treatment of animals just aren’t up to par with those in the west, as you’ll know if you read my article about Zao Fox Village . On the other hand, I do think a trip to Asahiyama Zoo in Asahikawa (Japan’s coldest city, and the hub of central Hokkaido) is worth it, if only for the iconic “penguin parade” that takes place every winter day at 11.

Kushiro and Abashiri: Hokkaido’s Wild East

hokkaido december travel

One of my biggest regrets about my first Hokkaido winter itinerary is that I didn’t head very far east. As a result, I was intent on this trip having a few days in Kushiro and Abashiri (the two main cities of eastern Hokkaido) and the vast wilderness between them. Whether you see tancho red-crested cranes near the lakes north of Kushiro, or take an “ice breaker” tour in the Sea of Okhotsk off Abashiri, the long journey here is definitely not a wasted effort.

Mt. Hakodate’s Night View

hokkaido december travel

For many years, Hakodate was my favorite city in Hokkaido on the whole—I still love it a lot. One of the many reasons for this is its geography: The city sits between two roughly symmetrical bays, and a mountain that rises at the tip of a peninsula. The best way to appreciate this is to ride the ropeway up Mt. Hakodate which, after night, allows you to take in what is often ranked as Japan’s best “night view.”

How Many Days Do You Need in Hokkaido in Winter?

Take it from me: You don’t want to come to Hokkaido in January or February without enough time to see and do everything. If you don’t plan to ski, I’d say the minimum you should plan to spend is a week. This will give you a few days in Sapporo to get yourself situated, plus the opportunity to head east, optionally all the way to Kushiro and Abashiri, if that’s in the cards for you.

For skiers, on the other hand, spending winter in Hokkaido is a slightly different discussion. Some will fly to New Chitose Airport, to a bus directly to Kutchan or Niseko, and get moving again only to head back to the airport. For others, however, I’d say you should plan at least a week to however long you plan to ski. I’d probably recommend exploring Hokkaido before you ski, although that’s somewhat down to preference.

Other FAQ About Hokkaido Winter Travel

Should i visit hokkaido in the winter.

Winter is when Hokkaido is most itself—you should absolutely visit Japan’s northernmost island at this time, if you can. Not a skier? Not a problem? From Otaru’s icicle-lined canal, to Asahikawa’s penguin parade, to the wild scenery of far eastern Hokkaido, there’s never a dull moment when you’re this far north.

How do you travel around Hokkaido in winter?

The best way to get around Hokkaido during the winter is public transportation, be that express trains from Sapporo to other cities, local trains in more rural parts of the island or buses in places where the rails don’t run. As a general rule, I don’t recommend driving in Hokkaido during winter.

Is it difficult to drive in Hokkaido in winter?

Hokkaido isn’t always a difficult place to drive during the winter. If the snow isn’t freshly-fallen, or hasn’t frozen over after it’s melted, you’re unlikely to face any difficulty at all. The challenge is when a blizzard hits—and they can hit at any time—or if ice is on the road. If you don’t have a lot of experience driving in wintry conditions, you shouldn’t rent a car in Hokkaido during the winter.

The Bottom Line

I hope my Hokkaido winter itinerary has informed and inspired you as you plan your own trip to Japan’s great, white north. As I know from personal experience, simply heading to Hokkaido during the coldest part of the year is not a guarantee of success. However, if you have a good grasp of all there is to do, and how much ground you can realistically cover with the amount of time you have, it’s difficult to fail. Planning to visit Hokkaido in summer? I’ve got a guide for that. Want personalized help putting your Hokkaido trip together, at any time of year? Consider hiring me to plan it for you!

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hokkaido december travel

Things to do in Hokkaido in December

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Looking for a different month?

December is a good time to visit Hokkaido .

Hokkaido has plenty to offer for visitors of all ages and interests. In this article, we tell you the top things to see and do for your December trip to Hokkaido. Get inspired by the events, activities, attractions, and experiences unique to December. We’ll let you know where to explore events based on your interests, whether that’s food, culture, art, music, sport or others.

Table of contents

  • Experiences
  • Attractions

hokkaido december travel

Best events and things to do in Hokkaido in December

Top experiences in december, holidays in hokkaido in december.

  • Christmas ( December 25 )
  • December 31 Bank Holiday ( December 31 )

Other notable holidays

  • Culture Day ( November 3 — 4 )
  • 7-5-3 Day ( November 15 )
  • Labor Thanksgiving Day ( November 23 )
  • New Year's Day ( January 1 )
  • January 1 Bank Holiday ( January 1 )
  • January 2 Bank Holiday ( January 2 )
  • January 3 Bank Holiday ( January 3 )
  • Coming of Age Day ( January 13 )
  • Setsubun ( February 3 )
  • National Foundation Day ( February 11 )
  • Emperor's Birthday ( February 23 — 24 )
  • Dolls' Festival/Girls' Festival ( March 3 )
  • Spring Equinox ( March 20 )

Best attractions for Hokkaido in December

Odori park fountain

What's the weather like in Hokkaido?

It depends on when you visit! We've compiled data from NASA on what the weather is like in Hokkaido for each month of the year: see the links below for more information.

  • Weather in Hokkaido in January
  • Weather in Hokkaido in February
  • Weather in Hokkaido in March
  • Weather in Hokkaido in April
  • Weather in Hokkaido in May
  • Weather in Hokkaido in June
  • Weather in Hokkaido in July
  • Weather in Hokkaido in August
  • Weather in Hokkaido in September
  • Weather in Hokkaido in October
  • Weather in Hokkaido in November
  • Weather in Hokkaido in December

Explore nearby places

  • Kitahiroshima
  • Tobetsu-cho
  • Nanporo-cho
  • Shinshinotsu-mura
  • Naganuma-cho
  • Kuriyama-cho
  • Tsukigata-cho
  • Akaigawa-mura
  • Kyogoku-cho
  • Kimobetsu-cho
  • Shikotsu-Toya National Park
  • Kutchan-cho
  • Rusutsu-mura
  • Shiraoi-cho

All related maps of Hokkaido

  • Map of Hokkaido
  • Map of Sapporo
  • Map of Ebetsu
  • Map of Kitahiroshima
  • Map of Ishikari
  • Map of Tobetsu-cho
  • Map of Nanporo-cho
  • Map of Eniwa
  • Map of Shinshinotsu-mura
  • Map of Naganuma-cho
  • Map of Otaru
  • Map of Kuriyama-cho
  • Map of Yuni-cho
  • Map of Iwamizawa
  • Map of Chitose
  • Map of Tsukigata-cho
  • Map of Akaigawa-mura
  • Map of Kyogoku-cho
  • Map of Kimobetsu-cho
  • Map of Yoichi-cho
  • Map of Niki-cho
  • Map of Mikasa
  • Map of Abira-cho
  • Map of Bibai
  • Map of Yubari
  • Map of Tomakomai
  • Map of Shikotsu-Toya National Park
  • Map of Kutchan-cho
  • Map of Rusutsu-mura
  • Map of Shiraoi-cho
  • Map of Urausu-cho

Hokkaido throughout the year

  • Hokkaido in January
  • Hokkaido in February
  • Hokkaido in March
  • Hokkaido in April
  • Hokkaido in May
  • Hokkaido in June
  • Hokkaido in July
  • Hokkaido in August
  • Hokkaido in September
  • Hokkaido in October
  • Hokkaido in November
  • Hokkaido in December

hokkaido december travel

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hokkaido december travel

Visiting Hokkaido in Winter: Best Things to Do in Winter, Weather & What to Pack

Hokkaido and winter go hand in hand as Japan’s northernmost prefecture turns from the colorful koyo to a winter wonderland. From December to February, as the deep snowfalls cover the land in a blanket of snow, the temperatures drop well below freezing seeing a change in scenery and atmosphere. It’s hard to know what to bring to prepare yourself with the meters of snow and freezing temperatures. Luckily, we’ll tell you everything you need to know to prepare for your next trip to Hokkaido in winter !

What's winter like in Hokkaido (December to February)?

Hokkaido winter temperatures and snowfall, what to pack for hokkaido in winter, what is there to do in hokkaido in winter, when should you visit hokkaido in winter.

Winter in Sapporo at Odori Park (Photo: PIXTA)

The average monthly temperature is below freezing The winter in Hokkaido is considerably longer than in other parts of Japan. From December to February, the average temperature drops below freezing. The southern city of Hakodate is warmer (still below freezing) compared to more central areas such as Sapporo . In more mountainous areas such as Niseko , Furano , and Asahikawa , it gets even colder! No matter where you go in Hokkaido, it will no doubt be cold, so be prepared. Snowfall starts in October in the mountains and in December in the cities In many of the mountains , snow falls as early as October. In fact, in 2022, Mount Kurodake in Kamikawa saw the first snowfall in Hokkaido on October 5! However, in Sapporo , snow falls typically around mid to late November. Then from late January to February, the heaviest snowfall falls throughout Hokkaido. In downtown Sapporo , you can find snowfall heavier than in some mountainous regions, making it one of the snowiest cities in Japan! In February 2022, Sapporo saw a record-breaking (since 1999) 60 cm snowfall in just 24 hours. There will be days with gently falling snow to blizzard-like but also days with cobalt blue clear skies making for some stunning scenery! Experience the festive and warm atmosphere! There is something special about snowfall in Hokkaido. Within the cities, there is an unexplainable warmth that comes from the meters of snow. The city streets become illuminated in the pearl-white snow as people prepare for the festive period filled with friends and loved ones. Along with the numerous events, shop sales, and winter activities, there is a more excitable atmosphere. In the countryside, there is a sense of tranquility as a blanket of snow covers much of the scenery. The breathtaking views (not just because of the cold!) coupled with the falling snow are so special to Hokkaido.

*Information from Japan Meteorological Agency website. Averages are for years 2012-2021.

Above, we have listed the average mean temperature levels and snowfall depth in key areas around Hokkaido. As mentioned previously, the first snow in Sapporo falls in November, and the heaviest snowfalls occur from late January to early February, when the Sapporo Snow Festival is held. There’s even more snow in the mountain areas. The locals say that it snows somewhere in Hokkaido every day during winter . But in some cities, such as Sapporo and Asahikawa , there are sunny days in winter without any snowfall. Sometimes you’ll even have the rare phenomenon of snow falling out of a bright sky!

Winter Wear (Image: PIXTA)

If it is your first time visiting Hokkaido in winter , it is difficult to know what to pack. These are our recommendations but don’t worry if you are under-equipped, you can find everything you need when you arrive.

  • Shoes : Shoes are probably one of the most important items to consider during your trip to Hokkaido in the winter. During heavy snowfall, the ground is easy to walk on the powdery snow. However, on the roads and when the snow starts to become ice, it is extremely slippery and dangerous. Make sure to bring nonslip, waterproof boots, to battle any condition!
  • Outer Wear : We recommend getting a high-quality overcoat with a hood, that way you don’t have to worry about your head and ears getting cold! Alternatively, a light jacket with a warm fleece or sweater inside is still sufficient! A ski jacket is also convenient for when you hit the slopes or want to roam the city streets.
  • Lower Wear : Trousers-wise, jeans are perfectly fine, however, we recommend getting some thermal leggings as under protection. This is a must during January and February and especially if you are visiting more mountainous regions where the temperature is even colder. Similarly, don’t forget to pack some thermal socks, not just regular socks. And pack a lot of them. You’ll thank us later!
  • Innerwear : As we mentioned above, thermal is your best friend. If you do not have or do not want to buy any thermal wear, pair long sleeve t-shirts with a light sweater or fleece as well as a high-quality jacket.
  • Accessories : A good sturdy umbrella will be necessary if your jacket does not have a hood. In addition, a scarf and gloves are a must to cover yourself from the strong winter winds. Earmuffs are also handy but not essential, depending on the other gear you bring. You can also buy some hokkairo (hand warmers) (approximately 30 yen per warmer) from any convenience store if it gets too cold!

There is a range of fun things to do in winter in Hokkaido!

Enjoy the powder snow

The snow sees the much-anticipated skiing and snowboard season spring to life as thousands flock to the slopes to get a piece of Hokkaido’s powder snow. The plethora of mountains , some of the finest powder snow and world-class ski resorts means that you are spoilt for choice. Not just skiing and snowboarding but many other activities , such as winter trekking, sledding, and ice skating, are all fun activities to do with friends and family. These can all be enjoyed from as early as December till February and even into March and April

hokkaido december travel

See some spectacular snow scenery

As the landscape transforms into a winter wonderland, many of the popular sightseeing spots take on a new look. In addition, there are some special areas that are only accessible during the winter ! Drift Ice cruises, an ice village built on the frozen Lake Shikaribetsu and many winter illuminations are just a few examples of the many places you must visit during your winter visit to Hokkaido!

hokkaido december travel

Celebrate winter at various festivals

Along with the snowfall sees the start of the festive period. Christmas, New Year and the all-important Sapporo Snow Festival all take place within weeks of each other, attracting people from across Japan and the world. Whether it is visiting the winter illuminations in Odori Park , or the giant Christmas Tree in Sapporo Factory, there is always something to do.

hokkaido december travel

Enjoy the winter food

Hokkaido is home to some of the finest foods in all of Japan. From seafood to delicious vegetables, you can find a place to satisfy whatever craving you might have. What better way to warm up in the freezing weather than with some local ramen ? If you are looking for something more seasonal, don’t forget to try some of the famous horsehair crabs.

hokkaido december travel

The best time to visit - Late January to February We recommend visiting from late January to February if you are looking for the best snow. Hokkaido sees its heaviest snowfall during this period making it perfect for those that want to ski or snowboard . It’s also fantastic for nature lovers who want to see some snowy scenery. During early February, there is also the Sapporo Song Festival, which is one of Hokkaido’s most anticipated events of the year! For a more festive feel - December Who doesn’t love Christmas? The numerous illuminations, snowfall, and Christmas songs will definitely help you get into the Christmas mood. We love visiting Hokkaido in December because you will definitely get a white Christmas! Like the snow, don’t like the cold? - After February If you are a bit worried about the freezing temperature and heavy snowfall, maybe late February onwards is for you! The slightly warmer temperatures still see some snowfall, which is enough to enjoy the winter scenery and some spring skiing !

hokkaido december travel

Written by:

Andy Cheng

Andy is a chef and culinary journalist with over 7 years in Japan, extensively exploring its regional dishes. A University of Nottingham graduate, he trained in five Japanese restaurants before transitioning to freelance work. He contributes to over 10 global clients, including Marriot Bonvoy and the Hokkaido Tourism Board, and assists in translation and promoting inbound tourism with local governments.

hokkaido december travel

  • Area Sapporo / Chitose
  • Category Winter
  • How To: Sightseeing

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Tokachi Ranch Shirakaba Trees & JEWELRY ICE (Tokachi)

Tokachi Ranch Shirakaba Trees

Tokachi Ranch is a ranch in Otofuke town located in the northern part of Obihiro city. The birch tree-lined avenue, which runs straight about 1.3km from the ranch entrance, is a popular spot known as a shooting location for the NHK morning serial drama "Massan" (2014). In the midwinter, the birch branches that had lost their leaves were covered with hoarfrost, and white flowers (snowflakes). The contrast between the pure white straight road and the blue sky is beautiful, and you definitely want to take a picture of it.

hokkaido december travel

JEWELRY ICE

"Jewelry Ice" is a unique phenomenon only in the midwinter on the Otsu coast in Toyokoro town facing the Pacific Ocean. A natural phenomenon in which the water of the Tokachi River freezes and flows into the sea before hitting the coast. As time goes by, the sand polishes each block gradually and turn them into shiny and bright on surface! It can be seen from mid-January to late February, depending on the weather of the year.

hokkaido december travel

Tokachi Winter River cruising (Tokachi), Shikisai-no-oka & Blue Pond (Biei)

Tokachi Winter River cruising

The Obihiro River is a river that flows through the city, but in winter you can see swans flying from Siberia. The boat is close to the surface of the water, and it is attractive to be able to experience the scenery close to your eyes of waterfowl. While sitting in the boat, you will be enjoying the perfect combination of wonderful landscape and blue surface of water that leaves you calmness and relaxation. *Available from December to March.

hokkaido december travel

Shikisai-no-oka

Shikisai-no-oka is a 7-hectare flower field spreads out against the backdrop of the magnificent heavy snowfall mountain range and hills, and the view is simply extraordinary. You can see about 30 species of flowers from spring to autumn. In winter, you can experience buggy snowmobiles and enjoy the charm of winter hills, which is quite different from the green season.

hokkaido december travel

Blue Pond is a mysterious pond where the water surface displays various hues of blue depending on the season and weather. In different seasons, it creates different stunning atmosphere that leave all visitors remarkable memories. Although Blue Pond is one of the key elements, the surrounding forest also play an important role in contributing to this breath-taking scenery. When there is no wind, the sky and trees are reflected on the surface of the water, creating a mysterious mirror-like scene.

hokkaido december travel

Asahiyama Zoo, Hokkaido Ice Pavilion & Asahikawa Ramen Village (Asahikawa)

Asahiyama Zoo

At Asahiyama Zoo, you’ll stand a chance to meet more than 150 kinds of animals. Apart from the animals that we understand in general, this zoo consists of variety of wild animals including Artic creatures like penguins and polar bears, other species including capybaras, orangutans and many more that are typically live in the wild. It is famous nationwide for its "behavioural exhibition" which creates a comfortable space for animals and allows the visitors to truly see the ecology and behaviour that those animals originally have.

hokkaido december travel

Hokkaido Ice Pavilion

The Ice Pavilion is the world's first and largest scaled facility where you can enjoy the cold experience all year round. The ice hall is kept at -20 ℃ throughout the year, and the icicles that have created over 40 years and the nature has boast a scale of 600m2 ice wall and 1000-ton ice volume and you can also have your photo taken with the sea angel, Clione. Besides, never forget to visit the 25 years old giant icicles and still counting!

hokkaido december travel

Asahikawa Ramen Village

Asahikawa Ramen Village is one of a kind must visit spot for ramen lovers, mainly to promote the culture of Asahikawa's delicious ramen noodles. At here, there are 8 ramen shops with their unique recipes and original tastes, and offering customers a variety of choices. In addition, there is also a shop in Ramen Village, where you can buy a wide range of Asahikawa ramen as souvenirs. Aside from the delicious ramen, you can visit Ramen Village Shrine for blessings and there are Instagrammable spots such as benches that were customized in the shapes of chopsticks and giant ramen bowls.

hokkaido december travel

Former Hokkaido Government Office, Sapporo Factory & Okurayama Ski Jump Stadium (Sapporo)

Former Hokkaido Government Office

The Former Hokkaido Government Office, often known as the “red brick building” was built according to the American neo-baroque style in 1888. It is also an iconic symbol of Hokkaido and the color of the building has attracted the attention of many. This “red brick building” has various facilities such as historic exhibitions, museum shop, conference room and even tourist information office. Aside from the indoor facilities, you can explore and walk around the front yard and every corner of this wonderful place.

hokkaido december travel

Sapporo Factory

Sapporo Factory is categorized as a large-scale shopping and entertainment complex with over 160 establishments. There are restaurants, lifestyle products, cinema, fashion, hotel and many more available in this complex. Even though Sapporo Factory was the former Sapporo Beer Factory, but a small and functioning brewery is still operating in the building that offers visitors tour services at the beer brewery.

hokkaido december travel

Okurayama Ski Jump Stadium

Okurayama Ski Jump Stadium is a place that you can actually go to the starting point of the "Okurayama Jump Stadium" jumping platform exactly where the jumping competition was held at the 1972 Winter Olympics Sapporo Tournament. During winter time, visitors can get to take nice photographs with their friends and family with snowy white background, and also experience the amazing view of Sapporo City at the top of observatory platform.

hokkaido december travel

Moerenuma Park & Mt. Hakkenzan (Sapporo)

Moerenuma Park

Moerenuma Park is located in Higashi-ku, Sapporo and was designed by the world-famous sculptor Isamu Noguchi. With an area of about 188.8 hectares, the park itself is a huge campus where nature and art merge together. A comprehensive park with seasonal attractions such as cherry blossoms in spring, playing in the water in summer, coloured leaves in autumn, and snowy scenery in winter available for its patrons.

hokkaido december travel

Mt. Hakkenzan

If you are a beginner for mountain climbing, Mt. Hakkenzan is definitely one of the best spots for you. As the simple formation and structure, it is easier for all mountain climbers to enjoy their hiking session. You will notice the top of the mountain is filled with sword-like rock formations and that’s where the name “Mt. Hakkenzan” was created. Besides, the climate in the area is warm and sunny. So, it is a great location to grow fruits such as cherry, apple, grape and even strawberry. Visitors are able to experience fruits picking here too!

hokkaido december travel

Snow Activities (Snowshoeing) & Yukemuri Lumina (Sapporo)

Snow Activities (Snowshoeing)

You can enjoy the scenery of winter mountains with snowshoes, and you can walk on the powder snow with ease where no experience required. Modern spiked snowshoeing is considered as the common option at ski resorts, but alternatively, visitors also can opt for a unique Japanese experience by strapping on a pair of traditional kanjiki snowshoes too. Also, you can enjoy the snowy mountains of Jozankei from a different angle than usual that gives you the feeling of nature trekking.

hokkaido december travel

Yukemuri Lumina

At Yukemuri Lumina, a number of illuminations are set up throughout the year, including Jozankei Gensen Park in the center of the hot spring town and a huge tree next to the souvenir shop. There are many spots available where you can see the illuminations while taking a footbath and take pictures in the hot spring town. Collectively, they are called "Yukemuri Lumina". *Available throughout the year

hokkaido december travel

Otaru Art Base, Sakai-machi Street & OTARU TIMES GARTEN (Otaru)

Otaru Art Base

Otaru Art Base is renowned for their marvellous arts and crafts across entire Japan and the world. In each of the four buildings and 3 facilities consisting of a stained-glass museum, the former Mitsui Bank Otaru branch museum, and the Nitori Museum, which has been renovated from a historic building. If you’re an art lover, this is the place that gives you cultivation and sensitivity toward the beauty of arts and culture.

hokkaido december travel

Sakai-machi Street

Sakaimachi Street is a historical and attractive well-preserved merchant street. Many Western style buildings were built along Sakaimachi Street as the offices and shops of trading and shipping companies in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Nowadays, these buildings have since been converted into restaurants, cafes, museums, etc. to attract more visitors. Tourists can also enjoy DIY experience at some of the local Otaru glassware shops along the street and bring back your own one of a kind glassware as a special souvenir. Visitors often shop while walking along Sakaimachi Street and enjoy desserts made from Hokkaido fresh milk.

hokkaido december travel

OTARU TIMES GARTEN

OTARU TIMES GARTEN is a food-themed garden consisting of three pavilions: the meat specialty store "ONIKU NO HITOTOKI", which boasts Genghis Khan, the Hokkaido wheat bakery "PAN TIME", and the hammock cafe "OCHA BIYORI". This the exactly the spot where you can enjoy food in the historic stone warehouse of the Otaru Canal.

hokkaido december travel

UPOPOY (Shiraoi), Usuzan Ropeway & The Windsor Hotel Toya Resort & Spa (Toya)

Upopoy is a national center that serves as a base for the reconstruction and development of the Ainu culture, which is a precious culture of Japan but is in danger of survival. It is also a symbol for the future to build a vibrant society that respects the dignity of indigenous peoples and has a diverse and prosperous culture without discrimination.

hokkaido december travel

Usuzan Ropeway

The Usuzan Ropeway brings you close to the volcano's summit. The upper station's observation deck offers panoramic views of Lake Toya and neighboring Showa Shinzan. From the second observation deck, with a short walk away, there are views of the ocean and Mount Usu's largest crater, which was formed in an eruption in 1977. A 7-minute walk will take you to the crater observatory, where you can see a large crater that raises water vapor.

hokkaido december travel

The Windsor Hotel Toya Resort & Spa

The Windsor Hotel Toya Resort & Spa is located on the summit of Mt. Poromoi at an altitude of 625m. It offers a beautiful view of Lake Toya from their unique Western style rooms, spa area, onsen and golf course too! They even pamper their guest with BVLGARI bath sets. If you are feeling hungry, there will be eight restaurants ranging from Japanese and French restaurants that was awarded two stars from the prestigious Michelin Restaurant Guide.

hokkaido december travel

Jigokudani - Hell Valley & Noboribetsu Bear Park (Noboribetsu)

Jigokudani - Hell Valley

Jigokudani is an explosion crater with a major axis of about 450m in the northeast of Noboribetsu Onsen Town. Visitors often find the natural hot spring is a relaxing attraction, but have you ever wondered where is the source of the water? Let me reveal the answer for you, these waters were actually flow up from the underground and more than 10,000 tons of water mixed with natural elements flow directly to the hot springs in town.

hokkaido december travel

Noboribetsu Bear Park

Noboribetsu Bear Park is a ranch on the summit of Mt. Shikatamine, raising about 70 brown bears. It was equipped with a brown bear museum and an observatory. In Hokkaido, brown bears are the largest species of animals but it was reported that the population has been declining and it is believed that there were 2,000 brown bears left. Thankfully, brown bears were worshiped by the native Hokkado people, Ainu and they were contributing and the numbers of bears are growing steadily from eight to sixty now!

hokkaido december travel

Chitose Winery & Salmon Hometown Chitose Aquarium (Chitose)

Chitose Winery

Chitose Winery is a place where you can participate yourself in the tour about this brewery that manufactures wine. While enjoying the wine tasting session, you can shop for your favourite wines at here. "North Wine Kellner" is very popular as a souvenir from Hokkaido as well as the specialty Hascup wine which is made from indigenous fruits is also available here! Let’s share this with your wine buddies and try these amazing flavors together.

hokkaido december travel

Salmon Hometown Chitose Aquarium

Salmon Hometown Chitose Aquarium is an aquarium with one of the largest aquariums in Japan for freshwater species, and you can observe various freshwater creatures from all over the world, mainly salmon friends and freshwater fishes from Hokkaido. Above all, a flock of salmon that goes up the river for spawning in the fall is a must-see.

hokkaido december travel

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  • Winter Hokkaido Recommended Itinerary

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hokkaido december travel

YOU'LL BE DELIGHTED BY ALL YOU CAN DO WITH JUST 9 DAYS IN HOKKAIDO IN WINTER!

During winter in Hokkaido, snow covers every inch of the cities and countryside. Pack your warmest coats, thickest boots, and get ready for the time of your life! The best time to visit Hokkaido is between the tail-end of January and early February , so that you can attend all of the festivals!

DAY 1: WHAT TO DO IN CHITOSE, HOKKAIDO

hokkaido december travel

As your plane makes its final approach, the clouds will part to reveal blankets of white snow that stretch to the horizon. Welcome to Hokkaido, where “winter wonderland” isn’t hyperbole! If you’re flying into Shin-Chitose Airport, you’ll need to take a 40-minute train ride to get to Sapporo. But who wants to do that while they’re fighting jet lag? Take a day to repack your bags, get cleaned up, and rest in Chitose City. If you still have some energy, there’s plenty to do around town. In the airport, you can stop by The Ramen Dojo which houses shops from ten of the best ramen restaurants in Hokkaido. Make sure you try the miso-flavored broth, which is the local specialty. After a meal, wash off that airplane gunk by taking a dip in the Shin-Chitose Hot Spring . If you’re ready to shop or want to stretch your legs, check out Chitose Outlet Mall Rera. You can access the mall via a free shuttle bus, which takes about ten minutes.

DAY 2: WHO ARE THE AINU PEOPLE?

Nibutani Ainu Culture Museum; Things to Do in Hokkaido in Winter; All Japan Tours

Sapporo Beer is one of the oldest and most delicious lagers from Japan. You might have had the chance to try it in your home country, but now you can learn about its history and brewing process. The three-story museum is inside of a historic brick building. After a guided tour, you can sample different types of Sapporo beer, including seasonal releases and some not available outside of Hokkaido.

DAY 3: SPENDING A DAY AT THE SAPPORO SNOW FESTIVAL

hokkaido december travel

If you’re coming to Hokkaido in winter , don’t miss your chance to see the fabulous Sapporo Snow Festival. The tradition began in the 1950s when a group of high school students built six snow statues in Odori Park that attracted fifty-thousand people. Since then, it’s grown into a week-long celebration that highlights sports, artistry, and food from around the world. Starting from Sapporo TV Tower, watch as competitive skiers and snowboarders make death-defying jumps. Head west through the next dozen city blocks to see larger-than-life snow statues and ice sculptures. One of the favorite spectacles is the annual statue built by the Self Defense Force, which always features pop-culture references. After the first four blocks, the sculptures get relatively smaller, because individual artists create these. In these areas, you’ll also start to see food stalls run by restaurants from all over Hokkaido. Be sure to try the giant scallops or deer meat, and warm your bones with hot beer, wine, or non-alcoholic sake . On the last block, you’ll find sculptures by international artists and cuisines from outside of Japan if you’re looking for something more familiar. The Sapporo Snow Festival runs during the first week of February and has three sites. Odori Park has the most massive structures, but the Susukino district and Tsudome Dome are also worthwhile to see. You can avoid crowds in Odori Park by attending on weekdays during working hours. However, you don't want to miss the festival at night when projection mapping displays light the ice sculptures.

DAY 4: FROM SAPPORO TO OTARU

Nijo Market; Things to Do in Hokkaido in Winter; All Japan Tours

South of Kitaichi Sangokan, you’ll come across a cluster of buildings that make up the Otaru Music Box Museum. If you aren’t sure which way to go, listen for the steam clock which plays a melody every fifteen minutes. Inside, you’ll find music boxes made from glass, wood, and even fabric! Have fun browsing the different varieties of styles and songs at your disposal, and don’t forget to buy one as a souvenir !

DAY 5: EVEN MORE SNOW FESTIVALS!

Asahikawa Winter Festival; Things to Do in Hokkaido in Winter; All Japan Tours

Yes, another festival , and the coldest one yet! By now, you’ve seen buildings built out of ice and snow, and now you can finally explore the insides of them. At the Sounkyo Ice Fall Festival, you’ll see things like shrines , ice bars, tunnels, and statues of creatures and pop culture characters. The layout changes every year, but you’ll always be able to try tubing down a hill or enjoy Ainu dance performances.

DAY 6: SOUNKYO DAISETSUZAN NATIONAL PARK AND TWO AMAZING MUSEUMS

Sounkyo Daisetsuzan National Park; Ice Climbing; Ginga Waterfall; Things to Do in Hokkaido in Winter; All Japan Tours

The Japanese aren’t the only people from Japan! The indigenous Ainu people from the north have been around since the Neolithic period. Unfortunately, there are few of them left, but the Hokkaido Museum of Northern Peoples works to help preserve their culture. The museum also introduces the lifestyles of the First Nations people from Canada, the Sami, the Siberian people, and the Inuit.

DAY 7: HOW HARSH IS HOKKAIDO’S CLIMATE?

Abashiri Ice Breaker Cruise; Things to Do in Hokkaido in Winter; All Japan Tours

When Lake Akan freezes over, you can try your hand at ice fishing. Inside of a toasty tent, expert fishers will show you how to catch Wakasagi smelt. These are little fish that look similar to delta smelt. When you finish, you can have your catch battered and fried right then and there. The delicate Wakasagi smelts are so tiny that you can eat them whole—bones and all!

DAY 8: HAVE YOUR FILL OF HOKKAIDO’S LOCAL WILDLIFE AND TREATS

Aka International Crane Center; Things to Do in Hokkaido in Winter; Japanese Cranes; All Japan Tours

Along with Nijo Market and Hakodate Morning Market , Kushiro City’s Washo Market is one of Hokkaido’s top places to buy local seafood and vegetables. As you browse through the stalls, you’ll have the chance to pick up souvenirs and a meal . The main attraction is the Kattedon , which is a bowl of rice you can personalize with your favorite toppings. Don’t skip out on trying some of the local delicacies like bear meat and lamb!

DAY 9: WILL YOU SAY GOODBYE WITH A ROMANTIC RETREAT OR A NIGHT ON THE TOWN?

With only one day left, you’ll have a limited amount of time to finish up your souvenir shopping and preparing for your return trip. But there are still a few places you can go to before you leave Hokkaido. Halfway between Kushiro and Chitose, you can stop by Obihiro for a photo-op at Kofuku Station. The word Kofuku means “happiness” in Japanese . Because of its name and gorgeous location, it’s one of the most romantic places in Japan. On your ticket, you’ll see the phrase “幸福ゆき” ( Kofuku Yuki ), which makes it a ticket “to happiness!” Many travelers love taking them home as a souvenir. If you want to get back to the city, remember that Shin-Chitose Airport is only a 40-minute ride from Sapporo via the JR Hokkaido. If you feel like you didn’t get enough time exploring the lively downtown area, go again and check out the nightlife in Susukino .

CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT OUR HOKKAIDO WINTER TOURS FOR 2024, 2025 & 2026!

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How to Plan Your Perfect Hokkaido Itinerary In 2024

We visited some of the best parts of Japan in this 12-day Hokkaido itinerary , and want to inspire you to do the same!

Hokkaido Itinerary

Make no mistake about it, Hokkaido is big. Very big. Distances are vast, the landscape wild and untamed and the weather can change at the drop of a hat. That’s what makes planning your Hokkaido itinerary so difficult.

This is easily one of the most beautiful places we have ever had the pleasure of visiting.

Full of dramatic natural scenery, hot springs, delicious food, national parks, ski resorts, and charming towns, there is so much to see and do here.

It is also very likely that you will share this stunning scenery with very few people.

So if you have time for a Hokkaido road trip, definitely fit it into your Japan trip.

Table of Contents

Getting Around Hokkaido

When to visit hokkaido, day 1 – sapporo, day 2 – sapporo to asahikawa, day 3 – asahikawa to utoro (gateway to the shiretoko national park), day 4 – shiretoko national park, day 5 – shiretoko national park, day 6 – shiretoko national park to akan national park, day 7 – mashu-ko and mashu-dake, day 8 – mount io, kussharo-ko and akan-ko, day 9 – akan national park to new chitose via kushiro wetlands, day 10 – shakotan peninsula, day 11 – noribetsu onsen and lake toya, save this pin for later, hokkaido travel tips.

If you’re trying to design your Hokkaido itinerary there are a few things you need to keep in mind first. These are some of our Hokkaido travel tips.

READ MORE: Check out our other guide on the absolute best  things to do in Japan !

The best way to get around Hokkaido for this 12 day itinerary is by renting a car. You can check out our post on how to rent a car here .

Hokkaido does offer a JR pass, but services to the major national parks are limited and even then you will still need to take a bus or taxi to get into the parks proper.

Some of the most stunning scenery we saw was when we were driving. Having your own set of wheels will make your experience infinitely more enjoyable and convenient.

The best way to get around is to rent a car and explore on your own! We recommend Rental Cars , which has the largest range of vehicles for the best value on the market.

Hokkaido has 4 very distinct seasons and each of them have their merits.

Spring brings blossoming flower fields, summer brings bright sunny days, autumn gives us the changing of the leaves and winter dumps a few feet of snow all over the island.

We ended up doing our Hokkaido itinerary in autumn, which gave us beautiful colours and very few tourists. That being said it did bring some cold weather and occasional rain.

However depending on what your interests are you may prefer to travel in a different season. A Hokkaido 12 day itinerary can be beautiful at any time of year.

Autumn Hokkaido Itinerary

Our 12 Day Hokkaido Itinerary

This is the exact trip we did during our travels in Hokkaido, with a list of the places we visited, what we did and where we stayed. From the Sapporo Beer Museum and Beer Garden, to the national parks and lakes, this Hokkaido 12 Day Itinerary is packed with cool attractions!

We picked up our wheels and headed for Sapporo City at the start of our 12 day itinerary. This is a great opportunity to pick up some cold weather clothes if you haven’t got that many with you.

Outside of summer, it can get really cold, especially in Shiretoko and Akan. We brought some extra warm clothes and it was definitely a worthwhile investment.

Sapporo is a lovely city to wander around. Checking out the Sapporo TV Tower Observation Deck, Sapporo Clock Tower, Odori Park, Sapporo Beer Museum, and the botanical gardens is a great way to spend an afternoon.

In the evening we headed to the top of Mount Moiwa for a beautiful nighttime view over the city. The Sapporo TV Tower also has an incredible view from the Observation Deck, if you didn’t get the chance to visit there earlier in the day.

The fresh seafood is amazing, Hokkaido has the best sashimi in Japan according to the Japanese.

  • Where To Eat: Ramen Yokocho and any izakaya serving sashimi.
  • Where We Stayed:  We stayed in an AirBnB in Sapporo . This place does have parking, it is important to check that the places you stay in Hokkaido, be it hotels, guesthouses or airbnb’s have parking as it is not always a guarantee. Click here to get $35 off your first AirBnB stay .

Check out our brand new and complete guide on the best  things to do in Sapporo !

Next on our 12 day itinerary, this is where our Hokkaido Expressway Pass came into use. You save a few hours taking the highway to Furano. After getting off the highway it’s stunning scenery all the way to Furano.

If you’re visiting in winter, Furano Ski Resort is one of the best places to go skiing and snowboarding.

But you’ll likely be doing a road trip outside of winter when the weather is more favorable.

Be sure to check out Farm Tomita for a mind blowing display of colour. They sell everything lavender, including a rather delicious lavender ice cream. It sounds awful, but like almost everything in Japan it was delicious.

From here you can take route 237 winding through the Japanese countryside to the quaint little town of Biei. From here you can head to the Blue Pond, a place that you will find on many Japanese postcards.

We elected not to do the above. Instead we attempted to get to the Asahidake cable car station for sunset. The weather had been really cloudy all day until around 3:00 so we decided to go for it.

Around 800m we were surprised with a snow storm. Within a few minutes the road was slippery and our windscreen wipers creaking under the weight of snow. Unsurprisingly we abandoned our plans and headed towards Asahikawa for the night.

Where To Eat: Farm Tomita is a good start for a lavender based snack. An advantage of the hotel is the amazing little izakaya over the road from the hotel serving great food for an even better price.

Where We Stayed: Trend Hotel Asahikawa – Nice hotel, but you can probably find something cheaper when you visit Hokkaido, we booked very late in the day.

Seafood Hokkaido Itinerary

We had originally planned to spend the day exploring the Daisetsuzan National Park and then drive onto Shiretoko the next day, but the rain put pay to our plans. One advantage of this was it gave us extra time for later in the trip.

We took route E39 from Asahikawa, but be warned the area circling the northern end of the Daisetsuzan National Park will make you forget about the previous day.

This is a long drive, it probably took us between 4 and 5 hours with rest stops included. This and the previous days drive were where Hokkaido Express was invaluable. It saved us so much time by being able to use the highway.

Utoro is a tiny village at the edge of the Shiretoko National Park. As a result most restaurants stay open till around 8pm.

As a side note, the next town down from Utoro is Shari. Accommodation is usually a little cheaper here, but you a now an hour from the park as opposed to 15 minutes in Utoro.

Where To Eat: Options are pretty limited in terms of choice, however there is a great ramen restaurant and a lovely izakaya about 10 minutes walk from the hotel. Staff inside recommended these places to us.

Where We Stayed: Iruka Hotel – Great little guesthouse with friendly staff and a good breakfast .

Shiretoko Hokkaido Itinerary

We checked out the Shiretoko Go-Ko (5 lakes). The long walk around is pretty amazing and you get to sit through a rather interesting safety video about how to avoid bears. The main thing to take away from the video is that if a bear attacks you there is nothing you can do, so best avoid them.

We then checked out the Fureppe Waterfalls, which offers some pretty incredible views. Later on in the day we enjoyed a free foot bath. The guesthouse staff can mark them on a map for you.

One thing to note about Shiretoko is that the weather can change very quickly. Most of our time there was cloudy, but no rain and a fair few blue skies.

Where We Stayed: Iruka Hotel – Great little guesthouse with friendly staff and a good breakfast.  This guesthouse has a number of WOOFERs working there who can also offer great advice on what to do when you visit Hokkaido.

Fureppe Falls Shiretoko Hokkaido Itinerary

We spent day 5 of our Hokkaido trip on the eastern side of the peninsula around the port town of Rausu.

To get there follow the road to the Shiretoko pass. The pass is absolutely stunning and is a must if you’re in the area. you get amazing views over the coast, and if you are lucky you will be able to see the summit of Mount Rausu.

When you arrive in Rausu take a left and follow route 87 and check out some of the beach foot spas that run along the coastline. It’s a surreal experience to dangle your feet into a foot spa whilst waves from the sea of Okohtsk crash onto the beach.

The Kamuiwakka Hot Falls back towards Utoro make a great place to stop off on your way back. Do be aware that this is an unsealed 10km road. As soon as dusk hits be on the lookout for deer.

Where To Eat: Sashimi in Rausu. A tiny little restaurant south of the centre right on the coast gave us an incredible meal.

Sashimi Hokkaido Itinerary

We drove via Abishiri along the Okhotsk road which offers some spectacular coastal views. Abishiri has a really interesting prison museum where you can learn about Hokkaido’s history.

From here we headed on to our onsen hotel close to Teshikaga in the Akan National Park. We entered the park along route 102 which takes you through a pass that gives you incredible views of Lake Kussharo. Try and get there around sunset for the best views.

Lots of accommodation in the area offers breakfast and dinner. We decided not to do dinner to give us the chance to go out and explore the nearby towns. Here it is the same story as Shiretoko, restaurants close early, so try and avoid eating late.

The rooms at the hotel do not have showers or baths in the rooms. You wash in the onsens  in the hotel. A word of warning, it can take a bit of practice to get the temperature right as the taps are extremely sensitive, but its a great way to start and finish your day.

Where To Eat: The nearest town is Teshikaga which has 2 restaurants and a bunch of convenience stores. Your choices are ramen or tempura. On the plus side, both are fantastic.

Where We Stayed: Hotel Parkway . Great little onsen hotel .

Otaru Canal Hokkaido Itinerary

One of Hokkaido’s top hikes. Getting to the top of Mashu-Dake takes around 4-6 hours return. Bring plenty of water and warm clothes as the top of the mountain can be very cold.

A few minutes after getting to the top we were treated to our own private snowstorm ! You will need good shoes as the track can be slippery, and although it’s not a particularly challenging walk the last 400m are very narrow and steep so take care.

Also the car packing ticket you get at Mashu-Ko can also be used at Mt Io the next day or vice versa.

The hotel offers a great breakfast that comes complete with raw egg rice. You crack an egg into a little bowl whisk it and add some soy sauce before pouring it onto the warm rice. Delicious.

Mashu-Ko Dake Hike Hokkaido Itinerary

The scenery around Mount Io is to die for, but the smell is not pleasant, think Rotarua in New Zealand – lots of sulphur.

From here its a short drive to Kussharo where there are plenty of hiking options and a few hot water beaches on the shores of the lake. There is a great hike around the peninsula which gives some beautiful views.

Akan-Ko is approx 50km from Kussharo and is a little more developed for tourism than the other two lakes. The drive from Kussharo-Ko to Akan-Ko is particularly good, probably more interesting than Akan-Ko itself in our opinion.

Akan-ko has a rather cool little foot spa cafe. Perfect after a long day of exploring.

Lake Kussharo Hokkaido Itinerary

This is a long drive, be under no illusions. We left just before 10 and headed straight for the bihoro pass which is a must. Possibly one of the best views we got in Hokkaido.

From here we drove to the Kushiro wetlands, which is ok but there isn’t a huge amount to do. However it does give you a break from driving and the scenery on the way is excellent.

From here we jumped on the Doto Expressway around 2pm thinking there would be a service station fairly soon after where we could grab some lunch as we were starving. Sadly we were wrong, finally coming across one around 4:30. We ended up staying in New Chitose as there was no affordable accommodation around Shikotsu-Ko.

Where To Eat: The area is dotted with great eats. In particular some amazing izakayas and BBQ (yakinuku) restaurants.

Where We Stayed: Hotel Plus Hostel Sapporo . Has private and shared rooms so you can find something that suits your budget.

Bihoro Pass Hokkaido Itinerary

Not listed in guidebooks or J apanGuide.com, this peninsula an hour and a half outside of Sapporo is an undiscovered gem. We only found out about it after doing a google search of “what to do in Otaru” and this came up on a TripAdvisor thread.

Probably the most stunning coastland we drove in Japan, with only a few others on the road. Some lovely short walks around the peninsula are well marked by road signs.

From the Shakotan Peninsula back to Chitose you pass through the lovely little town of Otaru. At night the canal and the surrounding buildings are lit up, so its a great place to go for a wander. Also check out the little alleyways close to the canal that around stuffed full of izakayas.

Where To Eat: The alleyways around the Otaru Canal offer a huge variety of great food.

Where We Stayed : Sho Inn Otaru . A small but cosy and affordable hotel in Otaru.

Shakotan Peninsula Hokkaido Itinerary

Noribetsu is probably the most famous onsen town in Japan full of hot spring baths and naturally, it is very popular with tourists. In fact, this was probably the busiest place we visited during our time in Hokkaido, but we’d definitely recommend it.

There are plenty of great walks around Hell Valley and the one down to Ooyunuma and the Ooyunuma Foot Spa. A great place to dip your feet after a few steep hills. Very easy to get to from Sapporo or New Chitose.

Checking out Hell Valley itself is also super cool. This volcanic crater is filled with bubbling sulphur hot spring baths and dramatic natural colors. The name “Hell Valley” is fitting because it really looks other worldly.

Driving back from Noribetsu you can choose to check out Lake Toya or Lake Shikotsu in Shikotsu Toya National Park.

Lake Toya is one of the most famous sights to see when you visit Hokkaido. Surrounded by volcanoes and peaks, the gorgeous Lake Toya offers some of the most stunning views in the country.

If you’re visiting between April and October, you may get to witness the Lake Toya Long Run Fireworks Festival. On clear evenings, a 20 minute fireworks display lights up the skies around Lake Toya, which is a super cool event to witness.

Where To Eat: The dining options in Noribetsu is pretty pricey, but just outside the town there are plenty of cheap restaurants.

Where We Stayed: Dai-ichi Takimotokan . There are lots of accommodation options in the heart of Noribetsu but this one has a hot spring, hot tubs, and swimming pools.

Shiretoko Goko Hokkaido Itinerary

Day 12 – Saying bye to our car and flying on to Hiroshima

We chose a great day to leave as southern Hokkaido was hit by a huge blizzard. We had planned to go and see Lake Shikotsu but the weather was awful. In fact the winds were so strong that trees were blown down blocking parts of the road that were already covered with snow and ice.

Sadly we only saw lake Shikotsu under a fair bit of snow, but it certainly seemed very pretty.

We rented with OTS. The car they gave us was a small modern hybrid which really saved on petrol. The service and packages they offer were comfortably the cheapest and they also have the Hokkaido Expressway Pass set up and installed for you.

Some other companies don’t offer this service and will send it to your hotel, which is pretty inconvenient.

Next stop was to head off and check out the best things to do in Hiroshima .

Renting a car for an epic Hokkaido trip is a once in a lifetime experience. This truly is a place of outstanding natural beauty, culture and hospitality and must for any traveller. Our only regret is that our photos cannot truly convey how beautiful it really is.

Hokkaido Pinterest Image

About the Author - Richard Barnes

Richard Barnes is our resident China, New Zealand and Central Asia expert, having spent more time than just about anyone backpacking and travelling around there. He is also one of half of the British-Chinese couple that make up abearandapig.com , a blog focusing on travel, life as a local and an expat in the middle kingdom and Chinese social media.

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7 thoughts on “How to Plan Your Perfect Hokkaido Itinerary In 2024”

Hi, You wrote a great article and it is very informative, thank you very much. May I know when was the above trip: Day 1 ~ Day 12? I will be in Hokkaido from Oct 24 to Nov 3, not sure if it is still worth to travel to Asahikawa?

Hi, do give Richard a message over on his website. He will be able to help you. All the best. https://abearandapig.com/

Hi, I like this report about Hokkaido a lot, am just planing our trip. Been to many other places in Japan before. I only wanted to know, when you have been there, “autumn” is not exact enough to plan 🙂 so can you please be a bit more detailed(like End of Sept. …) ?? Thank you very much!

Hi, I read ur article and need ur advice. Arrive Chitose Airport 27/10/2019, company incentive trip covered Noboribetsu, Jigokudani, Otaru, Sapporo, Mitsui Outlet, Okurayama Ski Jump, Hokkaido Shrine & Tanukikoji St. From 30/10/2019 morning till return flight from Chitose 4/11/2019 09:35 is my free and easy session with another partner Any recommendation program for 30/10 to 3/11?

I will be visiting Hokkaido in November and the group will include elderly and young children. Appreciate if you can recommend itinerary that is suitable

Hope you had a great trip. 🙂

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Hokkaido: Best Things to Do in Winter

Hokkaido in Winter: Best Things to Do

Best Things to Do in Hokkaido in Winter

Planning a trip to Hokkaido? Wondering when is the best time to visit Hokkaido?? After reading this article, you may think winter (from December to February) is the best season to visit and have the most wonderful experience in Hokkaido!

Japanese northern wonderland, Hokkaido is one of the most popular travel destinations in the country through the year. With the tremendous nature, beautiful cities and delicious food, Hokkaido is a pure treasure land of Japan.

As it’s located in northernmost of the country, the climate in Hokkaido is much cooler than mainland of Japan. During winter time from December to February, it snows regularly and the temperature drops below 0℃, which results many tourists avoid visiting there due to the unfamiliar weather condition. However, it’s also the most beautiful time of the year when the vast land is covered in white snow, creating the most spectacular scenery.

So today, I’d like to introduce some of most wonderful things you can see/experience in Hokkaido only in winter time and why it could be the best time to visit 😉

*Please note that this article contains affiliate links.

1. Enjoy Ski/Snowboarding

Niseko Ski Resort with the view of Mt Yotei

Hokkaido is home to several world class ski/snowboarding resorts, which attracts visitors from all over the world. The quality of powder snow in Hokkaido is highly praised and the magnificent scenery of mountain range is just breathtaking. Rusutsu and Niseko Village are two most famous ski resorts in Hokkaido.

Multiple slopes are offered depending on your skii levels, and even if you are not into winter sports, most of resorts offers snow parks, onsen and some indoor facilities. Most of ski resorts in Hokkaido open from late November~early December till April~May.

More info: Best Ski Resorts in Hokkaido

2. Witness Natural Phenomena

Winter phenomena in Hokkaido

Winter in Hokkaido is so cold that something very extraordinary can happen. There are some “natural phenomena” which we can only see in Hokkaido with particular conditions, such as “Diamond Dust”, “Sun Pillar” or “Snow Roller”. This is why Hokkaido deserves to be called Japanese winter wonderland.

3. Attend Sapporo Snow Festival

Sapporo Odori Park in winter

The country’s biggest winter snow festival is held in Sapporo City, Hokkaido every year and invites millions of visitors. It’s simply amazing to see the amount of man-made snow/ice sculptures are displayed, and the city gets so festive by celebrating the frozen winter. It’s definitely one of best festivals in the world.

Sapporo offers a plenty of tourist attractions which you can enjoy together with the snow festival such as the morning fish market, Sapporo Beer Museum, parks, restaurants and more. (Related article: Best Things to Do in Sapporo )

More info: Guide to Sapporo Snow Festival

4. Sapporo White Illumination

hokkaido december travel

Along with Sapporo Snow Festival, Sapporo White Illumination is another spectacular winter event in Hokkaido. Sapporo White Illumination is a classic illumination event held at multiple locations in Sapporo City during winter, featuring 750,000 gorgeous LED lights.

More info: Sapporo White Illumination

Besides Sapporo White Illumination, various light-up events are held across Hokkaido during winter. Please check the link below to find out more spectacular winter lights that you can see in Hokkaido only this time of the year!

▶ Best Winter Illuminations in Hokkaido

5. Visit Otaru

Snow Light Path Festival in Otaru City

Otaru (小樽) is a harbour city near Sapporo (approx 38 km away). It’s a popular day trip destination best known for the scenic streetscape with the canal and old warehouses as the city used to serve as a port town in late 19th century. There is a light-up event “Snow Light Path Festival” held during February, and the city glows with white snow at night.

Official Website: http://yukiakarinomichi.org/

6. Watching Drift Ice

Drift ice on Hokkaido ocean

Drift ice can be seen in the Okhotsk Sea in the eastern part of Hokkaido during winter. But how?? Of course with “Icebreaker Ship”!! There are two ships operates during winter: Garinko from Monbetsu City and Aurora from Abashiri City, both can take passengers to the frozen open sea through drift ice. Take the most exciting winter voyage 😉

▶ Drift Ice Sightseeing tour Icebreaker Ship Garinko-go Ⅱ

7. Shikaribetsu Kotan Ice Village

The ice village of Lake Shikaribetsu in Hokkaido

The ice village of Lake Shikaribetsu only appears during the coldest time of year from late January to early March, literally on the frozen lake. The village consist of an ice and snow made bar, concert hall, chapel, lodge and open air Onsen bath.

More info: Lake Shikaribetsu Kotan: Ice Village in Hokkaido

8. Hoshino Resort Tomamu Ice Village

hokkaido december travel

Another magical winter wonderland made of ice and snow will be opening in Hokkaido. Hoshino Resort Tomamu Ice Village will be opening from December to March offering various activities and entertainments using ice and snow including the Ice Bar, Ice Hotel, Ice Sweet Shop, staking rink and more!

More info: Tomamu Ice Village: Dreamy Winter Wonderland in Hokkaido

9. Ride a Dog Sledding

hokkaido december travel

One of the most fun and dreamy things to do in winter is riding a dog sled which can be only done in very cold and snowy places. In Japan, you can try this fun activity in Hokkaido! Have a rare and wonderful winter experience in the majestic nature of Hokkaido only this time of the year!

10. Eat Crab

Boiled King Crab in Hokkaido

What’s the best thing to do in Hokkaido?? I guess one of biggest reasons for many is to try their delicious local food. Especially winter is the best time to taste their high quality seafood products, and CRAB is one of the top choices.

Early winter is the best time to try Hokkaido’s signature King Crab (Tarabagani), which is very thick and has rich taste. You can also find other crabs like Snow Crab (Zuwaigani) in mid winter and Hairy crab (Kegani) from late winter.

▼Book the famous CRAB restaurant in Hokkaido▼

Sushi Kato Inori | Sushi Restaurant in Niseko | byFood

▼Check out more Winter Festivals in Hokkaido! ▼

6 Best Hokkaido Snow Festivals

What did you think about my list of most attractive things about Hokkaido in winter time?? There are more spots where you can have special “winter” experiences in Japan! You may wanna check out these articles below to find out where! 😉

Winter in Japan: 10 Best Things to Do

▽ Related Articles ▽

21 Best Things to Do in Hokkaido

▼ Editor’s Picks ▼

Hokkaido vs Okinawa: Which One Should You Visit??

"The world is my oyster" A globetrotter 🌎 and hammock lover 🌞 who loves taking adventures to fuel wanderlust. Born and raised in Japan, I have lived and explored countries around the world. As a resident of Japan and based on my travel experience, I'd love to share my knowledge and tips for travelling Japan with my readers. I hope my story will help you plan your trip and have a great time in Japan 🌈

  • Things to Do

hokkaido december travel

Hokkaido 10 days itinerary winter | Free and Easy Itinerary Initial Planning

Like many Singaporean families, we aim to travel twice a year during the June and December school holidays. Sometimes, we go on short trips during the March and September term breaks too. Earlier this year, we went on a 7-day trip to Bangkok and 5-day trip to Clark. And our most anticipated trip this year is coming in 2 months’ time. That’s our 10-day Hokkaido winter vacation ! 😍

For our first winter vacation, we – or rather I, am busy doing itinerary planning now since V leaves it entirely to me. I toyed with the idea of visiting several towns and switching hotels (Noboribetsu, Lake Toya), but I eventually decided against it because of the hassles of moving. Logistically, it’s a nightmare and wastes a lot of time too. Moreover, I heard that rolling the luggage in snow is very difficult.

Winter Clothing from Universal Traveller & Decathlon

Thus, to make life easier for us, we will stay at Sapporo for 6 days and use it as a base to explore other towns. I also learnt that there are one-day bus tours to Lake Shikotsu and Lake Toya. Since V and Edison are strongly against onsen (what a waste!) 😕, I’ve decided to skip Noboribetsu this time. We will spend the remaining 4 days in Hoshino Resorts Tomamu.

I booked our stay at Hoshino Resorts Tomamu since April (that was six months ago!). My friends told me that the resort is VERY popular and I must book way in advance to secure a room. Even so, I wasn’t able to book 4 nights in a Family Triple Room. They were fully booked unless I upgrade to a higher room type that would cost me at least 1K extra.

Their room rates almost doubled after mid-December. More attractions and activities are opened and available from mid-December onwards such as the popular Ice Village. Therefore, the rates are higher. So, we must spend our time wisely at the resort. Haha!

I booked our flight tickets in May. It costs us $3,000 for 3 pax via Korean Air (transit in Seoul). A quick check today revealed that the price went up to $4,800 for the same flight! That was the price of Singapore Airlines direct flight to Hokkaido half a year ago, which has now increased to $5,800. Wow, it’s amazing how much savings we can get if we book SUPER early. That’s where kiasuism really pays off, isn’t it? LOL 😆

All that said, I didn’t do much on itinerary planning until now. But we’ve spent quite a bit of time shopping for winter clothing lol. Three big bags from Decathlon and one from Universal Traveller containing ski jackets, down jackets, pants, thermal wears, socks, fleece sweaters, and gloves. Not getting a box of heat packs I got from TaoBao.

Uniqlo HeatTech

Everyone told me that Uniqlo HEATTECH is very good. So, I bought their Ultra Warm inner wear, leggings and fleece tops (eyeing at their latest winter collections too!). Yup, I’m a self-confessed Uniqlo fan so I’m very happy with my purchase. Now, we’re 95% done with our shopping – just left the snow boots and we’re good to go! 😃

And now, back to itinerary planning. V shared with me several YouTube videos on Hokkaido. Prior to this, I’m not into YouTube. But now, I’m totally into it! No wonder they say long-form blogging is dead – because once you’re into YouTube, you’ll probably won’t read a blog anymore. Who wants to read a wordy post when a Youtube video is far more interesting?! #mypoorblog Check-out these 2 travel vloggers for travel inspirations in Japan 👉  TokiYuyu and internationally Me .

Here goes my 10 days Hokkaido Free and Easy Itinerary (Winter):

Hokkaido Free and Easy Itinerary

Hokkaido Free and Easy Itinerary

Day 1: Singapore -> New Chitose Airport

Day 2: Sapporo – Shiroi Koibito Park, Sapporo TV Tower, Odori Park, German Christmas Market, Sapporo White Illumination

Day 3: Otaru – Otaru canal, Music Box Museum, Otaru Aquarium, Otaru Glassware, LeTao Cheese Cake

Food Recommendations:

Otaru Masazushi – most popular sushi restaurant in Otaru Naruto Honten – tastiest fried chicken in Otaru

Day 4: Sapporo – Sapporo Beer Museum,  Nijo Fish Market, Mitsui Premium Outlet, Rera Outlet Mall, Susukino ‘Ramen and Entertainment Street’ at night

Day 5: Day trip to Asahikawa Zoo

Day 6: Day trip to Lake Shikotsu and Lake Toya

Day 7: Sapporo -> Tomamu

Day 8 – 9: At Hoshino Resorts Tomamu

Day 10: Tomamu -> Singapore

The detailed itinerary will be a real challenge since we’re relying on public transport and there’s so much to see and do in Hokkaido. More to come soon! Be sure to bookmark this page as I will be updating my itinerary from time to time.

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hokkaido december travel

Hokkaido (�k�C��, Hokkaidō) is the second largest, northernmost and least developed of Japan's four main islands. Its weather is harsh in winter with lots of snowfall , below zero temperatures and frozen seas , while in summer it does not get as hot and humid as in the other parts of the country .

With its unspoiled nature , many national parks and rural landscapes, Hokkaido attracts many outdoor lovers, including skiers and snowboarders in the colder seasons and hikers , cyclists and campers from June to September.

Top destinations in Hokkaido

hokkaido december travel

Niseko •

hokkaido december travel

Furano •

hokkaido december travel

Sapporo •

hokkaido december travel

Noboribetsu •

hokkaido december travel

Hakodate •

hokkaido december travel

Otaru •

hokkaido december travel

Jozankei Onsen

hokkaido december travel

Kiroro Ski Resort

hokkaido december travel

Shiretoko ••

hokkaido december travel

Rishiri and Rebun ••

hokkaido december travel

Daisetsuzan ••

hokkaido december travel

Onuma Park •

hokkaido december travel

Akan Mashu National Park •

hokkaido december travel

Lake Toya •

hokkaido december travel

Lake Shikotsu •

hokkaido december travel

Kushiro Marshlands

Questions? Ask in our forum .

Links and Resources

Hokkaido government, northern road navi.

hokkaido december travel

Kyuhoshi

Japan Travel Guide – Hokkaido | Tohoku | Tokyo | Kyoto

hokkaido december travel

10-Day in Tokyo and Hokkaido Itinerary – December

In Japan, we always get to experience all four season. If you take a trip to Japan in early December, you will be able to experience two seasons, late autumn and early winter. How cool is that!

Do you really want to see autumn leaves and have fun in the snow? Seriously you can visit Japan in early December , especially in Tokyo and Sapporo , the capital city of the Hokkaido region and fifth largest city in the country.

From late November to early December is the perfect time to see fall foliage in Tokyo. On the other hand, December is when you can expect to see snow fall and enjoy some winter activities in Hokkaido that include skiing, ice skating, snowboarding, building snowman and etc.

This suggested itinerary here includes the best things to do during your 10 days in Tokyo and Hokkaido. It’s also an itinerary designed to visit the main Tokyo and Sapporo attractions in early December.

Let’s get started!

Day 1 – Welcome to Tokyo

hokkaido december travel

For tourists, it’s always a great idea to decide to stay in a hotel located nearby Shinjuku Station. You can check in to Shinjuku Prince Hotel or Hotel Gracery Shinjuku . Both are perfect for overnight stay.

It’s a free day to roam around for you. You can go anywhere you would like to if you have the time to spend after your flight and before you get to sleep.

If you arrive in downtown Tokyo in the morning from either Haneda or Narita International Airport , then you can think of taking a leisurely stroll in the neighborhood of Shinjuku in the evening. There are lots of bars, restaurants, convenience stores and shopping malls around to be explored.

Day 2 – Tokyo

hokkaido december travel

On your first day, start at the Shinjuku Gyoen , one of the most beautiful and largest parks in Tokyo. During the Edo period , it was the private mansion of the Lord Naito (feudal lord).

The park is about 10 minutes walk from Shinjuku Station (south exit) . Locals believe that Shinjuku Gyoen is one of the best places to see autumn leaves in Tokyo.

Basically it’s a tour to see red maple leaves (momiji). The park has three entrances, so any of the three would be fine to access the park. Early December is a perfect time to visit the park if you are keen to view spectacular autumn leaves.

hokkaido december travel

Take a walk along the walkways in accordance with the garden’s map. When you reach in the area of the Japanese garden, you will see lots of maple trees that change colors quite impressively.

There is one more place that might put a smile on your face, that’s Momijiyama, located on the park’s eastern side, close to Sendagaya gate (one of the three entrances). Except these areas, traditional French and English gardens are also worth exploring as you can see fall foliage.

And don’t be surprised to see some huge ginkgo trees in the park, they look pretty lovely when they are at peak colors.

hokkaido december travel

After spending a few hours in the park, head over to Meiji Jingu Gaien Park . Sendagaya gate would be your exit gate, don’t you forget it. The avenue of Meiji Jingu Gaien is packed with tourists and locals alike in the fall when the annual Ginkgo Festival (Icho matsuri) is celebrated from late November to early December.

With many foods stalls and cafes, this 300 meter long avenue is considered to be one of the best places to see autumn leaves in Tokyo. Go there and marvel at those straining ginkgo leaves before they fall off of the trees.

Make your way down to Takeshita Street , one of Harajuku’s must see spot! This shopping street is quite popular for locals and has rows of shops and stores to buy fashion items, foods, and souvenirs.

hokkaido december travel

Your next stop will be Yoyogi Park . It’s large and adjacent to the famous Meiji Shrine. It has wide lawns, ponds, forested areas and lots of open space to relax and enjoy outdoor nature.

When you are in Yoyogi Park, you will have to visit Meiji Shrine. Spend your time by walking around the shrine’s grounds and exploring its main buildings.

The last attraction for the day is Shibuya Crossing , the busiest crossing in the world. Perhaps this unique intersection is one of Tokyo’s interesting landmarks that you will have to experience when you visit Tokyo.

Day 3 – Tokyo

hokkaido december travel

Tokyo has so much to offer its visitors and often it’s hard to explore and experience all within a week, let alone in 2 days! However, for day three, interesting places to visit in the city are the Rikugi-en garden, Tokyo National Museum, Ueno Park, Sensoji temple, and Tokyo Skytree.

Start day 3 with a trip to Rikugien Garden , perhaps the most beautiful Japanese landscape garden along with Koishikawa Korakuen.

Are you thinking about “how to reach Rikugien garden from Shinjuku Station?” Just hop on a train that runs along the JR Yamanote Line (clockwise). It will take about 16 minutes to reach Komagome Station. From there, it’s just a few minutes of walk.

hokkaido december travel

Japanese landscape garden looks impressive in the fall and spring. Since you are going to visit the garden in early December, it’s obvious that you will be astonished seeing tons of gorgeous red maple leaves there.

You can gladly spend one or two hours in this picturesque garden. The admission fee is 300 yen.

Next on your tour of Tokyo should be Ueno Park , which is a short walk from Ueno Station. The park is huge and there are a lot of things to see and experience from Tokyo National Museum to Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum and Ueno Zoo, the first zoological garden of Japan.

hokkaido december travel

With largest collection of national treasures and important cultural items, the Tokyo National Museum is a perfect place to learn Japanese culture and history.

A visit to the museum also lets you witness the best collections of art and archeological artifacts in Japan. Please note the Tokyo National Museum is said to be the largest museum in Japan.

You will find a lot of restaurants in Ueno area, head to one that meets your taste. After eating your lunch, head to the Sensoji (Asakusa Kannon temple). This is one of the popular Buddhist temples in Tokyo.

Explore its main Hall and buy souvenirs from the shop when you walk down the Nakamise, a lively historic shopping street.

hokkaido december travel

As you come towards the end of your third day, you may enjoy heading up into the sky for great views over the city.

The spectacular Tokyo Skytree is a sight to behold and lately it’s one of Tokyo’s most visited attractions.

Head to this iconic tower (634 meter) and enjoy a stunning 360° view over Tokyo city! Sunset view from the observation decks is marvelous. You won’t regret it!

Day 4 – Tokyo

hokkaido december travel

Tokyo is all about the good times! You have so many options to do including various day trips that you can take right from downtown Tokyo.

Today you are not going to take a day trip from the city; instead there are some other incredible places you have to explore. Are you ready to have some fun?

Kick off an exciting day at Koishikawa Korakuen , another beautiful Japanese landscape garden that’s ablaze with colors in autumn.

The garden is a 5-10 minute walk from Iidabashi Station. Koishikawa Koreakuen is a place of scenic beauty.

hokkaido december travel

With its three ponds, the garden possesses all the elements of a traditional Japanese landscape garden has, such as manmade hills, stones, stone lanterns, trees, and bridges.

There is no better place to view all those garden elements in Tokyo than Koishikawa Koreakuen, and that’s why it should be on your radar!

After you have experienced the marvelous autumn colors beauty in the garden, continue on to another iconic site, the Tokyo Imperial Palace. Located on the former site of Edo Castle, this is a large park with stone walls, moats, gardens, and impressive walkways.

hokkaido december travel

There are free guided tours for the palace visitors. When you follow this itinerary here, you don’t need to join the free guided tour, instead enjoy your time exploring the site (reachable areas) all by yourself; it’s kind of a little adventure!

While there, make sure you discover the area of the Imperial Palace East Garden, Kitanomaru Park, National Museum of Modern Art, Nijubashi Bridge . The bridge can be seen from Kokyo Gaien, the large plaza in front of the Imperial Palace.

I would highly recommend you to visit Hibiya Park , another interesting place to enjoy autumn leaves in Tokyo.

For locals, the park is an ideal spot for an evening stroll. You will be surprised seeing a giant gingko tree there which is said to be 500 years old.

hokkaido december travel

Next destination for the day is Ginza , a popular nightlife district in Tokyo, but there are a lot of things to do during the day as well. It’s one of Tokyo’s top shopping districts.

You must walk along the Chuo Dori Street, the main shopping street in Ginza area. Pay a visit to UNIQLO in the Ginza area of Tokyo, and you will have a great experience. Find some other best shopping areas in Tokyo here .

Day 5 – Take a Day trip to Kamakura from Tokyo

hokkaido december travel

Kamakura is a coastal town in Kanagawa Prefecture, and it is one of the best day trips to take from Tokyo.

When you have time to stay more than 3 days in Tokyo City, take the opportunity to get out of Tokyo and see more of Japan’s iconic landmarks.

Would you like you know how to spend a lovely in Kamakura? Read the article here .

Day 6 – Tokyo to Sapporo

hokkaido december travel

Tokyo expedition is over; and it’s time to head over to Hokkaido!

There is nothing much to say about Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost island. The island has got everything to make one’s journey unforgettable and there’s adventure around every corner.

You will be astonished seeing its unspoiled nature and jaw-dropping scenery all year round and the local food here is delicious.

In early December, you won’t see a lot of snow on the grounds in Sapporo, but surly in the north of Hokkaido.

You will not have to travel that much far in the north to see snow; instead you will visit two amazing areas known as Biei and Furano. These two beautiful towns are famous for flower fields during the months of summer.

Any domestic flight will get you from Haneda Airport, Tokyo to New Chitose Airport in just 1 hour and 30 minutes. From the airport in Chitose, you can get to Sapporo either by train or bus. Taxi will be expensive but MK Taxi Sapporo is quite affordable!

hokkaido december travel

When you are Sapporo, make sure that you stay in a hotel, which is located either nearby JR Sapporo Station or close to the City’s main attractions. Hotel Gracery and Nest Hotel Sapporo Ekimae is a great example of it.

You don’t have a busy schedule for today, except visiting Odori Park, Sapporo TV Tower, Mount Moiwa, and Susukino. These attractions can be visited after you take a good nap!

You won’t have to use any car or public transport to visit the above places except Mount Moiwa. The Sapporo TV Tower itself is part of Odori Park.

First attraction for today is Mount Moiwa Ropeway . The views from Mount Moiwa’s top observatory is particularly amazing than what you see while the ropeway takes you to the upper ropeway station by cable cars.

Mount Moiwa is a popular attraction for the night view over Sapporo city. Make sure that you reach the summit (observatory) before sunset.

hokkaido december travel

What happens in December at Odori Park is spectacular. The park hosts one of Sapporo’s winter illuminations called Sapporo White Illumination usually from late November to late December.

You will never get bored when you walk around or sit one of the park’s benches during the illumination event.

If you are not tired and still want to explore something unique, my advice to you is take a walk from the park to Susukino , a red light district of Sapporo. The area comprises many restaurants, bars, pubs, and clubs, and karaoke shops.

Day 7 – A day in Sapporo

hokkaido december travel

Nijo Market is a great place to begin your adventure in the city. Visit this fresh seafood market in the morning, find a restaurant and then enjoy your breakfast there. You won’t regret it.

See more of Sapporo on day two of your stay in the city by experiencing the beauty of the Historical Village of Hokkaido , an open air museum located in Nopporo Forest Park .

The museum is divided into four sections: city area, farm village, fishing village, and mountain village.

Each of the section has their own style of beauty and lots of things to learn from and see. Take a bus from Shin-Sapporo station to the museum, which will take about 5 minutes.

hokkaido december travel

Make your way over to the popular Snow Cruise Onze for a few hours of fun and ski adventure. This ski resort is located in Otaru area, which is only a 45-minute bus ride away from Sapporo’s Miyanosawa Subway Station along Tozai Line .

The ski resort opens in mid November every year and that lets visitors to experience snow and early ski season in the region.

At the mountaintop, there is an observatory from where you can marvel at the beautiful vistas of Ishikari Bay . Night skiing here is a quite popular winter activity.

Return to Sapporo and enjoy the evening on your own.

Day 8 – Sapporo to Biei

hokkaido december travel

You can’t visit Furano without seeing the Blue Pond; this iconic sightseeing spot in Biei town is very popular place to visit for tourists and can be visited year-round.

Before you get to Biei, you may visit one of Japan’s best zoos called Asahiyama Zoo . It houses some rare species of animals including native wildlife of the Hokkaido region, such as eagles, cranes, wolves and deer.

From Asahikawa Station you can either take a bus or taxi to reach the zoo.

hokkaido december travel

How to get to Asahikawa from Sapporo? The easiest and fastest way to access Asahiakwa from Sapporo is by limited express train. It’s a-80 minute journey from Sapporo Station to Asahikawa Station.

While there, you go to a branch office of Yamato Transport Co., Ltd. located inside AEON Mall Asahikawa Station . It offers temporary luggage storage service for tourists, so let them take care of your luggage before you get to the zoo.

Tonight you will be staying at Yumoto Shirogane-Onsen Hotel in Biei , located at the foot of Mount Tokachi-dake.

You will be happy to know that this ryokan is located very close to Shirahige waterfalls ; and you can even go to the Blue Pond on foot from the hotel (30-40 minutes walk).

Enjoy a relaxing hot spring bath there and of course enjoy the food and sleep tight.

Day 9 – A morning stroll to the Blue Pond and more to come

hokkaido december travel

In the morning, visit the Blue Pond . According to my experience, the best time to visit this beautiful scenic spot is in the morning.

Excessive snowfall makes it frozen and covers the pond with snow. However, the views still look picturesque and tranquil.

Before you head to the onsen, you should stop by the waterfall . In December, you will experience half frozen waterfall though the view is mind-boggling!

hokkaido december travel

If you don’t want to walk to the blue pond, better wait for the bus to get there.

Would you like to stay one more day and night in Biei? If you say yes, then visit Furano ski resort and spend the evening at Ningle Terrace that houses many beautiful cottage shops.

These shops are illuminated with lights at night and they look very romantic when the roofs and walkways are covered with lots of snow!

If you can’t stay an extra night in Biei, then Check out and head to Biei Station, afterwards wait for a train to get to Asahikawa Station. From there you get on a limited express train to Sapporo Station.

Spend the evening visiting some of Sapporo’s best shopping malls, such as Sapporo ESTA, Daimaru, Sapporo Stellar Palace, and PARCO.

This hotel here is situated very close to JR Sapporo Station. Stay overnight there.

That’s the end of your Hokkaido trip in December.

Day 10 – Sapporo to New Chitose Airport

One way ride from Sapporo Station to New Chitose Airport Station takes about 35 minutes and costs 1070 yen. After arriving at the airport, you can spend some time roaming around it and buy things/souvenirs from the shops to bring home.

Afterwords, complete the immigration process and wait for the time to board your flight back to your next destination.

If you want more inspiration, read about autumn leaves in Tokyo , and the best things to do in Hokkaido in winter , hopefully these will get you excited.

What do you think of this suggested itinerary? It would be great if you begin your trip from December 1st ! If there is any question regarding your next trip to Japan, please feel free to contact us.

Have a safe and enjoyable trip to Japan in December. Thanks for reading.

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5 Day Hokkaido Itinerary

Hokkaido furano

Misty Fujii is a Canadian who moved to Osaka, Japan in 2019 and married her Japanese sweetheart. In 2022 they had a baby and moved to Fukui for the clean country air. She is a DJ who teaches English part time and writes in order to share Japan with the world. She gets excited about collecting vintage vinyl records, food of all countries, travelling and renovating her traditional Japanese house.

This post may contain some affiliate links. When you click through and make a purchase we may receive some commission, at no extra cost to you.

Hokkaido may be best known for its snow, but there is so much more to discover in Japan’s northernmost region. Abundant in fresh produce, boasting a unique history, and home to the indigenous Ainu people, today, the island has embraced elements of modernity while still cherishing its roots and past.

Attracting many outdoor lovers, Hokkaido has pristine nature and uninhabited wilderness. There are notable landmarks like Mt. Yōtei, also known as the Mt. Fuji of Hokkaido, national parks , markets, and festivals . 

As far as weather goes, Hokkaido experiences all four seasons , including warm and sunny summers when you can see beautiful flowers and eat sumptuous seasonal fish. However, winter is one of the best times to experience this frigid prefecture, with many attractions luring both Japanese and foreign visitors. 

Not sure where to start? Here’s a five-day itinerary to set you off on a grand adventure inside and out. 

▼Check out the best tour in Hokkaido!

hokkaido december travel

Sapporo Snow Festival

Eat miso ramen at ramen alley, sapporo beer museum, bar hopping at susukino, winter activities: dog sledding, hot air balloon, skiing, shopping at ningle terrace, enjoy seafood at sankaku market, otaru canal cruise, ski/snowboarding, nijo market, shiroikoibito park, japan wonder travel tours , other articles you might be interested in, day 1: sapporo.

hokkaido december travel

We begin our adventure in Hokkaido’s capital and largest city, Sapporo . Experience some of the city’s most iconic elements, such as snow, ramen, and its namesake beer. 

hokkaido december travel

Attracting 2 million tourists annually, the week-long Sapporo Snow Festival is a must-see! While celebrating everything snow and ice, the festival is a brilliant show of art, culture, sports, and food. It happens in February across three prominent locations; Odori Park, Susukino, and Tsudome. You will see hundreds of ice sculptures and attractions, such as snow slides and mazes, all while gorging on regional foods from all over Hokkaido. If you need a place to stay during the festival or just want to stay in this general area, have a look at our article below!

hokkaido december travel

After enjoying the Sapporo Snow Festival in Susukino, trek down an alley close to the Susukino subway station. Here you’ll find the birthplace of miso ramen on a famous yokocho street where you can fill your belly with the rich, umami noodle soup. There are many restaurants to choose from, so follow your heart and nose until you find one that strikes your fancy. You can also head here after a night of drinking, which is the liveliest time to visit. 

Sapporo Beer Museum

Learn all about the history of beer in Japan at its birthplace. Originally a brewery, the Sapporo Beer Museum is where you can find out how they make beer, and you can even participate in beer tastings. Home to one of Japan’s signature beers, there’s the Sapporo Beer Garden next door. Take the Loop 88 Factory bus from Odori Station to the museum, browse it yourself, or pay a little extra for a guided tour. 

When the sun goes down, the pulse of Sapporo’s nightlife quickens in the Susukino area. Head south from Odori Park until you find yourself among the neon lights at the intersection of Susukino Crossing. Home to cafes, bars, and izakayas, you’ll have your choice of spots to imbibe. If alcohol isn’t for you, eateries dish up delicious desserts, and restaurants serve Sapporo’s soul food of fresh mutton and meat sauce. 

Day 2: Furano

hokkaido december travel

A picturesque town in central Hokkaido, Furano boasts famous lavender fields in the summer and a snowy paradise in the winter. It’s icy, so bundle up and have some fun. 

The options for winter action seem never-ending. Snow sports like skiing and snowboarding are paradise on the well-developed ski area with fresh, powdery snow that makes for ideal conditions. You can rent everything you need to hit the 950 meters of slopes with hills for beginners to advanced athletes. 

hokkaido december travel

If you want to experience something different, why not try dog sledding? You can take a lesson and hit a trail with dogs racing as fast as 14-20 kilometers per hour on various routes, from relaxing to thrilling. 

Reach new heights soaring up to 1000 meters above the Furano Basin, Mt. Tokachi, and Mt. Taisetsu in a hot air balloon. Free and tethered flights are available; both are safe and make for an unforgettable experience. Riding in a hot air balloon is ideal in Furano, with its vast open fields. 

hokkaido december travel

In the forests of Furano, you’ll find wood cabins where you can buy or make artisanal handicrafts. When it gets dark, the area lights up to create a dreamy landscape. Take a moment to watch the artisans at work and admire the beauty of the cottages and trees. It’s an ideal way to cap off a busy day, strolling through nature while picking up one-of-a-kind souvenirs . 

Day 3: Otaru

hokkaido december travel

Next, let’s head to the port town of Otaru. Located northwest of Sapporo and en route to Niseko, it makes a perfect stop to savor local seafood and sightsee the historic cityscape. 

hokkaido december travel

It’s about time to take in some of the delicious seafood that Hokkaido, particularly Otaru, is famous for. Located near Otaru Station, the market offers many kinds of cuisine like crab, scallops, salmon, and mackerel. January and February are the best times to visit when you can also try mouthwatering herring. Open daily from 8:00-17:00, you’ll get to eat some of the freshest catches from the sea nearby. You can’t go wrong getting a donburi bowl so that you can try many kinds of succulent seafood all at once. 

hokkaido december travel

Take a cruise through the original gateway to Hokkaido. The Otaru Canal is the most famous sightseeing spot here, and it’s easy to understand why. Running centrally through the city, you can see historical warehouses, many of which have been converted into museums, shops, cafes, and pubs. You can enjoy the cruise during the day or night, but doing it at night when the buildings light up gives an extra romantic vibe. Stroll along the canal before or after the cruise, and you can visit any of the open buildings. 

Day 4: Niseko

hokkaido december travel

More powdery fresh snow awaits in the village of Niseko . Home to brilliant ski slopes, onsen , and restaurants, Niseko is also where you’ll find Mt. Yōtei, a smaller version of Mt. Fuji. 

hokkaido december travel

Mount Niseko Annupuri is reputed to be the best ski mountain in Japan , and it’s easy to see why. With breathtaking views, impeccable snow, and a peak elevation of 1308 meters, everyone can ski or snowboard here regardless of their skill level. There are easier slopes for beginners and off-piste terrain amongst the wilderness for advanced skiers. For those into extreme sports, experience the thrill of skiing right at the crater of this active volcano . Rent equipment or bring your own and hit the trails. 

Day 5: Sapporo

hokkaido december travel

There was far too much to do for one day in Sapporo, so return here to finish your Hokkaido holiday. After the exciting and athletic activities in Furano and Niseko, a trip to a market and a park make for a leisurely and delicious way to wind down. 

hokkaido december travel

Hit the spot where locals and visitors shop for seafood and fresh local produce. Nicknamed “Sapporo’s public kitchen,” the market spans approximately one city block. Also, it has restaurants to enjoy fresh food right away. Check out the main dining area, “Noren Yokocho,” and start your day with a delicious donburi bowl breakfast to fuel you for shopping and exploring. Take in the sights and sounds of the vendors while sampling some of Hokkaido’s most famous and delicious goods. In addition to seafood, you’ll be able to buy fruits and vegetables like melon and corn, for which the region is well known. 

hokkaido december travel

Shiroikoibito isn’t just any old park; it’s a chocolate entertainment park. Revel in a sugary fantasy land that is a marriage between British and Japanese cultures. Operated by the Japanese candy manufacturer that makes the white chocolate Shiroi Koibito cookies, this is a must-see for anyone with a sweet tooth. With a chocolate factory, shop and museum, you can see how chocolate is made, make cookies and buy souvenir sweets that are famous in Hokkaido. Different tours are available to learn about chocolate and taste your way around the park. There’s no better way to end a trip than with a full belly and a sugar high. 

hokkaido december travel

Hokkaido has so many things to do and see that it’s impossible to fit everything into five days. That’s all the more reason why having an itinerary is a valuable way to narrow down your plans so you can get as much done as possible. If you have something else in mind, don’t hesitate to book a one-day tour of Sapporo that you can customize to your tastes with Japan Wonder Travel.

hokkaido december travel

Japan Wonder Travel is a travel agency that offers guided tours throughout Japan.  From private walking tours to delicious Food and Drink tours, we can help you organize the best tours just for you! If you want to explore Japan and learn more about the history and backstories of each area you are visiting, our knowledgeable and friendly English speaking guides will happily take you to the best spots!  In addition, we can provide you with any assistance you may need for your upcoming trip to Japan, so please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or need some help! 

▶ Tokyo Fish Market Tour @Tsukiji – Enjoy Local Food and Drink Explore the most lively and popular fish market in Tokyo and try some of the local’s favorite street foods and sake with one of our friendly and knowledgeable English speaking guides! 

tsukiji tour

▶ Tokyo 1–Day Highlights Private Walking Tour (8 Hours) There’s no better way to explore an area than taking a tour with a knowledgeable local guide. You will have the chance to learn about the history and interesting background stories of Tokyo, as well as discover some hidden gems which can be hard to do without a guide.

Asakusa Tokyo private tour

▶ Mt. Fuji Day Trip Bus Tour from Tokyo Experience the breathtaking views of Mt. Fuji by visiting the highlights of the area on our guided sightseeing bus tour! Departing from Shinjuku in central Tokyo, you can travel comfortably to all of the best spots in the area by bus.

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▶ Kyoto Private Full Day Walking Tour On this full-day private tour of Kyoto, you will be able to see the highlights of Kyoto in just one day and at the same time develop a deeper understanding of both the culture of the area and Japan as a whole.

hokkaido december travel

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Stay informed of the best travel tips to Japan, the most exciting things to do and see, and the top experiences to have with the Japan Wonder Travel Newsletter. Once every two weeks we will introduce you to our latest content.

hokkaido december travel

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We are a family traveling to Furano next January and there are a few sights we wanted to see. As we come from Queensland, Australia where it doesn't snow so we have no experience driving in snowy weather. I was wondering if there is any way we can hire driver for the day to take us around the local areas. Otherwise, is it easy to get around the roads in the snow? Is black ice an issue on the roads?

3 replies to this topic

' class=

4hours taxi hire 25360 yen https://asahi-taxi.co.jp/sightseeing.html

>> is it easy to get around the roads in the snow

Absolutely not for someone with no previous experience.

hokkaido december travel

Definitely NOT a good idea to drive in the snow if you have no experience. Black ice is always a problem, as well as mountains of snow. If a truck slips, there could be a long line behind it for HOURS. If there's a white-out, color yourself blue. Always carry water, food, blankets, shovel and portable toilet/paper. People have been known to freeze to death, even 100 meters from their home.

https://www.nisekocarrental.com/pick-up-drop-off-info/hokkaido-winter-driving-tips

Please be safe. Check the weather before going out on an excursion.

hokkaido december travel

not a good idea to drive on snowy/icy roads unless you're well experienced as mentioned.

Consider joining local sightseeing bus tours organised by Biei tourism. It usually drops by popular spots such as the Blue pond, Shirahige falls etc.

観光バス(美遊バス)主催:美瑛観光協会

https://www.biei-hokkaido.jp/en/bus

今シーズンの運行は終了いたしました。

As of now it has ended so monitor again from coming Nov/Dec.

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Furano Hotels and Places to Stay

Who is Ippei Mizuhara, Shohei Ohtani’s interpreter fired amid gambling accusations?

Shohei Ohtani and Ippei Mizuhara talk to reporters.

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Shohei Ohtani and Ippei Mizuhara were practically connected at the hip for 6½ years, the bond between the world’s most famous baseball player and his interpreter so tight that the Dodgers two-way star was rarely, if ever, seen in public without Mizuhara in tow. Me and my shadow, they were. Two peas in a pod.

Not anymore. Mizuhara, 39, was abruptly fired by the Dodgers on Wednesday after representatives of Ohtani accused the interpreter of “massive theft” of the player’s funds — reportedly $4.5 million — to place bets with an allegedly illegal Orange County bookmaker who is the target of a federal investigation.

Los Angeles Dodgers designated hitter Shohei Ohtani, right, talks to his interpreter Ippei Mizuhara.

Shohei Ohtani’s attorneys accuse interpreter of ‘massive theft’ tied to alleged gambling

Representatives of Dodgers superstar Shohei Ohtani accused his interpreter of engaging in a ‘massive theft’ of the ballplayer’s funds to place bets with an allegedly illegal bookmaker.

March 20, 2024

Diane Bass, the attorney for the bookmaker, Mathew Bowyer, said her client has “never met, spoke with, or texted, or had contact in any way with Shohei Ohtani,” who signed a 10-year, $700-million deal with the Dodgers in December after playing his first six seasons with the Angels.

But it will be nearly impossible for Ohtani, whose ability to compartmentalize his pitching and hitting duties and limit distractions fueled a historic run in which he won the 2021 and 2023 American League most valuable player awards and finished second in 2022, to separate himself from a scandal sparked by his interpreter.

So who is Ippei Mizuhara?

Shohei Ohtani and Ippei Mizuhara stand together during an Angels game.

Mizuhara was born in the northern Japanese region of Hokkaido in 1984 and moved with his family to Southern California in 1991. He was a 2003 graduate of Diamond Bar High School, where he was a backup goalie on the school’s varsity soccer team as a senior but did not get much playing time.

“He always showed up for practice and worked hard,” Diamond Bar coach Kemp Wells told the San Gabriel Valley Tribune this week. “I remember that.”

Though he didn’t play baseball, Mizuhara fell in love with the game while watching Japanese sensation Hideo Nomo take the sport by storm with the Dodgers in 1995.

The Dodgers' Shohei Ohtani and his interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara, attend at a news conference at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul

Startled Dodgers move on after Shohei Ohtani’s interpreter accused of theft, gambling

Many within the Dodgers organization seemed startled Shohei Ohtani’s interpreter and close friend Ippei Mizuhara was accused of theft and gambling.

March 21, 2024

“I was right in the middle of Nomo Fever,” Mizuhara told Sports Illustrated in 2021. “Ever since then, I just watched a lot of MLB.”

Mizuhara graduated from UC Riverside in 2007 and got his first job in baseball as the interpreter for Boston Red Sox pitcher Hideki Okajima from 2007-2011.

How did Mizuhara and Ohtani meet?

Shohei Ohtani talks with Ippei Mizuhara before an Angels game.

Mizuhara traveled to Japan in 2013 to serve as an interpreter for the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters’ English-speaking players, including reliever Chris Martin. Ohtani was an 18-year-old rookie with the Fighters that season.

“I’ve known Shohei since he was 18, and when I first saw him, I was like, ‘Oh my God, this guy’s unreal,’ ” Mizuhara told Sports Illustrated. “That’s got to be the best part of the job, just getting to be in the house and watch him do his thing.”

When Ohtani signed with the Angels in December 2017, he brought Mizuhara with him as his personal interpreter.

What did Mizuhara’s job entail?

Shohei Ohtani watches a Lakers game with Ippei Mizuhara.

He was far more than an interpreter. Mizuhara and Ohtani drove to the stadium every day together, with Mizuhara serving as Ohtani’s chauffeur before Ohtani got his driver’s license. The two often worked out together.

During the pandemic in 2020, the pair played catch in the Angel Stadium parking lot. Mizuhara usually recorded Ohtani’s throwing sessions on his phone or tracked his data with a pocket radar gun.

Dodgers' Shohei Ohtani, left, gestures during a baseball game, and Reds manager Pete Rose, right, Leans against the dugout.

Is Shohei Ohtani another Pete Rose? Dodgers star may be in legal trouble if he paid gambling debt

Major League Baseball has had gambling issues, from the 1919 Black Sox scandal to Pete Rose’s ban from the game in 1989. Will Dodger Shohei Ohtani be next?

Mizuhara served as a liaison between Ohtani and the coaching staff, accompanying managers and pitching coaches on mound visits. When a new pitcher entered the game, it was usually Mizuhara who showed Ohtani iPad video of the opponent.

Early in his Angels tenure, Mizuhara encouraged Ohtani to download a video game on his phone so he could better connect with his teammates, which led to Ohtani and former Angels infielder David Fletcher developing a close bond.

“I’m with him 365 days of the year … longer than I’m with my wife,” Mizuhara told the Athletic in 2023. “So it’s going to be tough if you don’t get along on a personal level.”

How did Mizuhara’s popularity evolve?

Angels fans hold pictures of Shohei Ohtani and Ippei Mizuhara.

During his first year or two in Anaheim, Mizuhara talked softly and didn’t carry a big schtick. He seemed shy, almost timid, as he mumbled his way through some interviews. Reporters begged him to speak into the microphone at times.

But Mizuhara seemed to gain confidence as he grew more comfortable with his role, and his profile grew as Ohtani’s career took off with his breakout 2021 season, when Ohtani first emerged as a two-way force.

Dodgers' Shohei Ohtani, left, and interpreter Ippei Mizuhara answer questions during a news conference at Dodger Stadium

What to know about the Shohei Ohtani interpreter gambling scandal

March 22, 2024

Mizuhara was thrust into the spotlight at that summer’s All-Star Game when Ohtani tapped him to be his catcher for the home run derby. Mizuhara gained more acclaim when he temporarily quit his job during the 2021-2022 lockout, when MLB employees were barred from contacting players, so he could continue to work alongside Ohtani.

Mizuhara became such a fan favorite in Anaheim that when players and staff were introduced before the 2023 home opener, Mizuhara received the second-loudest ovation from the crowd, behind only Ohtani.

Mizuhara’s Instagram account now has 419,000 followers, and though he rarely posts on the social media platform, he did thank Angel fans after Ohtani signed with the Dodgers.

“Cannot thank you guys enough for all the support for the last six years,” Mizuhara wrote on Dec. 13. “Really, really gonna miss you guys, and I truly mean that from the bottom of my heart. It has been a great pleasure being part of the Angels family. Wishing you all the best.”

Are you a true-blue fan?

Get our Dodgers Dugout newsletter for insights, news and much more.

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hokkaido december travel

Mike DiGiovanna has been covering Major League Baseball for the Los Angeles Times since 1995 and spent 19 years as the Angels beat writer and two seasons on the Dodgers. He won Associated Press Sports Editors awards for game-story writing in 2001, feature-story writing in 2017 and breaking news in 2019. A native of East Lyme, Conn., and a graduate of Cal State Fullerton, he began writing for The Times in 1981.

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    We hope to give you insights and inspiration into the best things to see and do to make the most of your visit. Here is a list of our top attractions in Hokkaido for December. 1. Odori park fountain. 4.2. ( 321) Playground. Nature & Parks. Interesting, cold and crowded snow festival 2023.

  9. Visiting Hokkaido in Winter: Best Things to Do in Winter, Weather

    The average monthly temperature is below freezing The winter in Hokkaido is considerably longer than in other parts of Japan. From December to February, the average temperature drops below freezing. The southern city of Hakodate is warmer (still below freezing) compared to more central areas such as Sapporo.In more mountainous areas such as Niseko, Furano, and Asahikawa, it gets even colder!

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    Japanese northern wonderland, Hokkaido is one of the most popular travel destinations in the country through the year. With the tremendous nature, beautiful cities and delicious food, Hokkaido is a pure treasure land of Japan. ... During winter time from December to February, it snows regularly and the temperature drops below 0℃, which ...

  14. 10 Best Things To Do In Hokkaido During Wintertime

    Snow tube or mini-golf with the fam at Bibai Snow Land. 8. Take a cable car up to explore an active volcano. 9. Visit a German Christmas market in Sapporo. 10. Marvel at ice sculptures at the Sapporo Snow Festival. Check out these Hokkaido winter activities. Find out more about Klook's Hokkaido offerings.

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  16. Sapporo in Winter: Travel Guide to Japan

    6. Hokkaido Kani Syougun. Japan's love for crab is legendary, and Hokkaido is one of the best places in the country to have it. When it's in season in winter, the city looks like it was invaded by crab. You'll have several types to choose from like king crab, snow crab, hairy crab, and thorny crab.

  17. One Week in Hokkaido: Itinerary & Where to Go in 7 Days

    As much as you might avoid visiting Hokkaido in winter, Odori Park is at its most intriguing during the Sapporo Snow Festival. In this annual 7-day celebration, snow & ice sculptures emerge at a handful of sites around Sapporo, creating a lovely winter wonderland scene. Odari Park is the biggest of the venues.

  18. Hokkaido Travel Guide

    Japan's wild north island, a nature-lover's paradise with world-class skiing. Hokkaido (北海道, Hokkaidō) is the second largest, northernmost and least developed of Japan's four main islands. Its weather is harsh in winter with lots of snowfall, below zero temperatures and frozen seas, while in summer it does not get as hot and humid as ...

  19. 10-Day in Tokyo and Hokkaido Itinerary

    In early December, you won't see a lot of snow on the grounds in Sapporo, but surly in the north of Hokkaido. You will not have to travel that much far in the north to see snow; instead you will visit two amazing areas known as Biei and Furano. ... That's the end of your Hokkaido trip in December. Day 10 - Sapporo to New Chitose Airport.

  20. Best Time to Visit Hokkaido: Weather by Season & Month

    Weather By Month January. Overview: January is the first complete winter month in Hokkaido, and is a chilly time to be travelling around the island.By now, average temperatures are firmly in the minuses with snowfall hitting its peak during the month. The increased snowfall makes it more difficult and less safe to travel by road.

  21. 15 Day Hokkaido Itinerary

    Day 1 - 3: Visit Sapporo. There are so many cool things to do in Sapporo but one of the best is going around for the beautiful autumn leaves. Of course, if you visit during other seasons, rest assured there are plenty of fun festivals. As with most Japanese cities, it's pretty impossible to ever get bored.

  22. 5 Day Hokkaido Itinerary

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  24. Private drivers in Furano

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    December 2023: Ohtani signs with the Dodgers Ohtani shattered the record for largest MLB contract with a 10-year, $700 million deal that defers $680 million to be paid after the life of the contract.