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Eastern Hokkaido Winter to Spring A Jouney to Experience the Season

Attractions of Early Spring in Eastern Hokkaido

The time the season turns to spring after severe freezing winter. Drift ice leaves the Sea of Okhotsk, and fisheries begin full operation. Sprouts of trees become lush as snow melts away in plains. Explore the early spring of eastern Hokkaido for amazing views and food that you can never experience anywhere else.

*The information is as of 2020 March. Please confirm the information beforehand as it is subject to change.

01 Early Spring Scenery in Eastern Hokkaido The Superb Views in Early Spring Only

Eastern Hokkaido is the last place in Japan that spring comes around. In April, drift ice is no longer visible, and it starts thawing in earnest. When it being close to May, cherry blossoms and flowers begin to bloom and greens get darker. The scenery, much different from winter, is calm, bright and vivid, and this is a rare view during the turns of seasons only. Let's go witness the early spring of eastern Hokkaido.

Walk on a Pink Carpet
A vast 10-ha (25 acres) park located at the foot of Mt. Mokoto in Higashimokoto. It's known as one of the best shibazakura (moss pink) spots whose peak season is early May to early June. Visitors will definitely be fascinated by the breathtaking contrast of the blue sky and the pink carpet of shibazakura.
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Where to Enjoy

大空町Higashimokoto Shibazakura Park

  • Address: 393 Suehiro Higashimokoto, Ozora
  • Phone: +81-152-66-3111
  • Hours: 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM
  • Holidays: None. Opens every day
  • Fees: 500 JPY (during the blooming season only)
Access
  • JR Abashiri Station

    45 min by Abashiri Kanko Kotsu Bus

  • Higashimokoto (the bus office)

    Free shuttle bus (May 16 – May 31)
    *Passengers of the local bus above only
    *Reservation required

  • Higashimokoto Shibazakura Park
Awake of Onneto
A lake, 2.5-km (1.6 mile) in circumference, located at the foot of Mt. Meakan in Akan-Mashu National Park. This lake, also called "Pond of Five Colors", gets covered with snow and become white in winter. In spring, the color changes into azure blue known as "Onneto Blue." The beautiful lake surface and the remaining snow create an incredible view.
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Where to Enjoy

Ashoro-choオンネトー

  • Address: Moashoro, Ashoro
  • Phone: +81-156-25-6131 (Ashoro Tourist Association)
  • Hours: No restrictions on hours
  • Holidays: Road* closed during winter period (early Dec. – early Apr.)
    *Section from the gate at Meakan Onsen on Hokkaido Route 949 Onneto Line
Access
  • JR Obihiro Station

    111km (69 miles) 1 hour 49 min.
    Doto Expressway (Otofuke-Obihiro IC – Ashoro IC), National Route 242&241, via Hokkaido Route

  • Onneto
Awake of Lake Akan
A crater lake located in Akan-Mashu National Park. It's famous as a habitat of Japan's special natural monument, Marimo (moss balls). The sightseeing cruise starts its operation in late April to early may. During the first week of the cruising season, the tour operates an ice-breaking ship that breaks through the frozen lake surface.
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Where to Enjoy

KushiroLake Akan

  • Address: Akanko-onsen Akan-cho, Kushiro
  • Phone: +81-154-67-3200
    (Akan Tourism Association & Community Development Organization)
  • Hours: No restrictions on hours
Access
  • JR Kushiro Station

    2 hours by Akan Bus (Akan-kohan Route), 5 mins on foot from the bus stop

  • Lake Akan
Smell of Sprouts & Sound of Bear’s Footsteps Around Shiretoko Goko Lakes (The Shiretoko Five Lakes)
The trail of the Shiretoko Goko Lake in the primeval forest and the sightseeing cruise viewing the sheer cliffs of the Shiretoko Peninsula are available from late April. Even though spring comes late around here, green leaves of mizubasho (skunk cabbages) appear lushly in the lakes, and you can see brown bears that have woken up from hibernation in Shiretoko Peninsula.
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Where to Enjoy

SharichoShiretoko Goko Lakes

  • Address: Onnebetsu-mura, Shari-cho
  • Phone: +81-152-24-3323 (Shiretoko Goko Lakes Field House)
  • Hours: No restrictions on hours from late April to early November (It may vary depending on the year)
Access
  • JR Shiretoko-Shari Station

    1 hour 25 mins by Shari Bus (Shiretoko Goko Lakes Route), shortly on foot from the bus stop

  • Shiretoko Goko Lakes 
Where to Enjoy

SharichoGojiraiwa Kanko

  • Address: 51 Higashi Utoro, Shari-cho
  • Phone: +81-152-24-3060
  • Period: Apr. 25 – Oct. 27
  • Holidays: Canceled on bad weather
Access
  • JR Shiretoko-Shari Station

    1 hour by Shari Bus (Utoro Onsen Route), 5 mins on foot from Utoro Onsen Bus Terminal

  • Gojiraiwa Kanko
Spring & Mountain Ice on the Land
Around eastern Hokkaido in April, the lowest temperature of the day goes beyond the freezing point and snows begin to melt away. Cherry blossoms bloom and greens of trees gradually sprout in mid-May, but a quite amount of snow still sits on mountains. The view is an amazing art created by the contrast of greens on plains and white on mountains in early spring.
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A Mysterious Mirage Phenomenon of Drift Ice, “Genpyo”
As drift ice leaves the Sea of Okhotsk around late March and early April, one of the common features of spring season in this area, Genpyo, occurs. This phenomenon is known as mirage generated when warm air lies on a layer of air cooled by drift ice. It looks as if drift ice were floating above the horizon.
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02 Early Spring Gourmet” in Eastern Hokkaido Umiake Crabs of Abashiri

Abashiri's spring specialty is "Umiake (opening fishery) Horsehair Crab" without a doubt. Umiake crabs, which ate phytoplankton under the drift ice and have stored a plenty of nutrition, taste incredibly rich. Furthermore, they are so fresh and delicious because crabs in Abashiri get boiled right after being caught. Not to mention the meat, the crab butter is rich and creamy. In this section, we introduce how to enjoy umiake crabs by categorizing them into lunch, events, souvenir, and dinner.

“Umiake Horsehair Crab” for Lunch
Okhotsk Sanchoku Ichiba Kaniya" is located 5 minutes away from JR Abashiri Station by car. It's known as a market offering extremely fresh live crabs. Its specialty is "Horsehair Crab Sashimi Teishoku (set menu)" using freshly captured crabs from the water tank in the market.
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Where to Enjoy

AbashiriOkhotsk Sanchoku Ichiba Kaniya

  • Address: 3-6 Omagari 1 cho-me, Abashiri
  • Phone: +81-152-67-5550
  • Hours: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
  • Holidays: No fixed holidays
Access
  • JR Abashiri Station

    3 mins by Abashiri Bus (Tsukushigaoka-Danchi Route), nearby Kemusho-mae (prison) stop

  • Okhotsk Sanchoku Ichiba Kaniya
“Umiake Crab” at an Event
The main attraction, without a doubt, is "Kani-Maki (Crab Throwing)" that whole crabs are thrown to catch just like candies thrown from festival floats. The event ticket includes all-you-can-drink of beer and non-alcoholic beverage, a 400-yen-shopping ticket, and the lottery ticket for "Kani-Maki."
*It has been canceled in 2020 due to self-restraint.
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Where to Enjoy

AbashiriHarukani Gassen in Abashiri

  • Address: Michi-no-eki “Ryuhyo Kaido Abashiri” Higashi 4 Minami 3, Abashiri
  • Phone: +81-152-44-5849 (Abashiri Seasonal Festival Executive Committee)
  • Date: May 17 (as of today) 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM
  • Fees: ,500 JPY for an advance ticket, 2,000 JPY for the day ticket
  • *It has been canceled in 2020 due to self-restraint.
Access
  • JR Abashiri Station

    6 mins by Abashiri Bus (Tsukushi-ga-oka Danchi Route), 8 mins on foot from Abashiri Bus Terminal stop

  • The Venue of Harukani Gassen in Abashiri (roadside area, “Ryuyo Kaido Abashiri”)
“Umiake Horsehair Crab” for Souvenir
Kanékatsu Watanabe Suisan” has an abundant lineup of the seafood freshly caught in the Sea of OKhotsk. It's run by a crab fisherman and sells all kinds of seafood including meaty crabs, which come directly from the Abashiri Market. You can also eat crabs just boiled.
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Where to Enjoy

AbashiriKanékatsu Watanabe Suisan

  • Address: 21 Masuura, Abashiri
  • Phone: +81-152-45-3188
  • Hours: 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM
  • Holidays: Wednesdays, Jan. 1 – Jan. 5
Access
  • JR Abashiri Station

    18 mins by Abashiri Bus (Koshimizu Route), nearby Masuura Chikko stop

  • Kanékatsu Watanabe Suisan
“Umiake Crab” for Dinner
“Notori-no-sho Kagariya“ is located at the side of Lake Notori. It is a long-established ryokan (inn) which serves the special dinner, "Kaiseki Ryori (traditionally arranged dinner meal)" using ingredients produced in Abashiri such as luxury fish called channel rockfish and umiake crabs. It has private hot-spring facilities and guest rooms with hot-spring bath.
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Where to Enjoy

AbashiriNotori-no-sho Kagariya<

  • Address: 60-3 Ubaranai, Abashiri
  • Phone: +81-152-47-2301
  • Hours: Check-in 3:00 PM, Check-out 10:00 AM or 11:00 AM
  • Holidays: None
  • Fees: :7,000 JPY or above for 2 people from Sun. – Fri.
    29,000 JPY or above for 2 people on Saturdays and the day before national holidays
Access
  • JR Abashiri Station

    18 mins by Abashiri Bus (Tokoro Route), 3 mins on foot from Sangoso-Iriguchi stop

  • Notori-no-sho Kagariya

03 “Early-Spring Experiences” in Eastern Hokkaido Picnic in Farm

Tokachi area is called "Food Base of Japan" which produces a variety of crops such as high-quality grain including adsuki beans, soy beans and wheat, and also fresh milk and sugar. Itadakimasu Company offers guided farm picnics that let you have a meal cooked with freshly harvested crops in the farm. The contents vary depending on the season. In spring, you can enjoy extraordinary view as you learn about food at a vast rape-flower field.

Guided Picnic in Rape-Flower Field
As feeling spring has come, you can experience a picnic surrounded by rape flowers. The picnic tour serves rapeseed oil, bread made from 100% Tokachi wheat, BBQ of Tokachi vegetables. In the snack tour, you can eat potatoes fried in the rapeseed oil. You can also try oil tasting of rapeseed oil and olive oil.
  • Period: mid-May to mid-June
  • Location: Otofuke-cho
  • Hours: Picnic tour (11:30 AM – 2:00 PM), Snack tour (9:00 AM - 10:30 AM, 2:30 PM – 4:00 PM)
  • Fees: Picnic tour (5,600 JPY *4,100 JPY for 3-year-older to high-school students) Snack Tour (3,600 JPY *2,100 JPY for 3-year-older to high-school students)
    *Reservation required
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Picnics in Other Seasons

Where to Enjoy

TokachiItadakimasu Company

  • Address: Within Tokachi district (It varies depending on the theme)
  • Phone: +81-155-29-4821
  • Hours: Depending on each tour
  • Holidays: No fixed holidays (Mondays between Nov. and Apr.)
WEB

04 “Flower Tours of Early Spring” in Eastern Hokkaido Hanakaiyu

What is Hanakaiyu?
"Hanakaiyu" is a flower road that connects 6 districts in Okhotsk area: Takinoue, Mombetsu, Yubetsu, Engaru, Maruseppu-Engaru, and Shirataki-Engaru. It's a nice drive route where marvelous flower scenic spots are scattered, and each sight is just breathtaking.