6daysEastern Hokkaido in winter The miracles of nature: Eastern Hokkaido, from the 3-star Road to frolicking in the snow in the Daisetsu Mountains
- Asahikawa Airport〜Asahikawa, Sounkyo Onsen, Abashiri, Mombetsu, Shiretoko, Utoro Onsen, Kushiro, Tokachigawa Onsen, Lake Shikaribetsu
- Asahiyama Zoo, Sounkyo Onsen, Drift-ice icebreaker ship Garinko-go, Lake Saroma, Okhotsk Ryuhyo Museum, Abashiri Prison Museum, Oshinkoshin WaterFall, Akan International Crane Center Grus, Fuyu no Shitsugen-go Steam Locomotive, Lake Shikaribetsu
1DAYAsahikawa Airport → Sounkyo Onsen
Asahikawa Airport → Asahikawa
"Welcome!" Step inside this marvelous zoo and enter an amazing world of animals. Penguins soar through the water as if flying, and polar bears dive with a mighty splash! Orangutans display masterful balance and grace on ropes and nets. Wolves howl in the distance. Now nationally famous, Asahiyama Zoo has revolutionized the zoo experience throughout Japan by installing displays to maximize the natural ecology and behavior of each animal. The lively animals create vivid new scenes every day. How about a visit to this very special world?
■Address／Higashiasahikawacho Kuranuma, Asahikawa-shi ■TEL／+81-166-36-1104 ■http://www5.city.asahikawa.hokkaido.jp/asahiyamazoo/zoo/top&index/pamphlet/english/top-english.html
Hyobaku (Ice Waterfall) Festival
Winter, when even the waterfalls that flow from the sheer cliffs freeze. The Hyobaku Festival is an event that's representative of winter in Sounkyo. Ice columns, tunnels and domes - sculptures created in their most natural form on the banks of the Ishikari River. In the daytime the natural forms sparkle in the sunlight, at nighttime they're floodlit in a multitude of colors to create a mystical scene.
■Address／Sounkyo, Kamikawa-cho Kamikawa-gun ■TEL／+81-1658-2-1811 ■http://www.sounkyo.net/english/
2DAYSounkyo Onsen → Abashiri
Garinko-go was Japan's first drift-ice sightseeing icebreaker ship. The name is derived from the noise made as the ship's screw cuts through the ice. Experience a dynamic cruise on the ship as it floats above the ice that turns a mysterious color as it mixes with the seawater.
■Address／1, Kaiyokoen, Mombetsu-shi ■TEL／+81-158-24-8000
Lake Saroma is the largest lake in Hokkaido and the third largest in Japan., as well as being the largest brackish-water lake in Japan. The 25-km-long sand spit that separates the lake and sea is a treasure trove of precious flora.
Have you ever touched an ice floe? Or tried spinning a damp towel in subzero temperatures? At the Ryu-hyo (Drift Ice) Museum, visitors can try these and other arctic experiences, even in the middle of summer. The facility is located at the peak of Mt. Tento, about 10 minutes drive from JR Abashiri Station. The Hands-On Drift Ice Terrace is kept at -15 degrees Celsius, and contains actual drift ice. Visitors can touch the drift ice firsthand, or try spinning a damp towel until it freezes solid. You can also meet creatures from the Okhotsk Sea, such as the clione sea angel. The observation terrace provides a breathtaking panorama.
■Address／244-3, Tentozan, Abashiri-shi ■TEL／+81-152-43-5951
Japan's only prison museum. Set over an expansive ground, this facility preserves and displays the prison complex buildings of Abashiri Prison, which was in service since the Meiji Period. Perhaps most impressive is the five-winged radial prison house of five buildings fanned out from a central watch tower. A registered tangible cultural heritage of Japan, this structure is also the oldest wooden prison building in the world. These historical buildings are populated by mannequin inmates so realistic you can almost hear them breathe. Step inside the Abashiri Prison Museum and take a trip back in time. The cafeteria even serves meals based on the actual recipes served to prisoners.
■Address／1-1, Yobito, Abashiri-shi ■TEL／+81-152-45-2411 ■http://www.kangoku.jp/world/
3DAYAbashiri → Utoro Onsen
The most popular means of drift-ice sightseeing is from the icebreaker ship, which cuts through the drift ice with its heavy hull. Experience the dynamic drift ice from the deck, or view in comfort while drinking coffee in the warm observation cabin. You may even see a seal resting on the ice, or a white-tailed- or Steller's sea eagle with a wingspan of up to two meters.
■Address／4-5-1, Minami3-johigashi, Abashiri-shi ■TEL／+81-152-43-6000 ■https://www.ms-aurora.com/abashiri/en/
It is located along the national highway as one heads from the center of Shari town towards the outskirts of Utoro hot spring.
It is possible to see the sheet of spray surfacing from bare rock and the powerful waterfall falling down at a short distance.
■Address／Utoronishi, Shari-cho Shari-gun ■TEL／+81-152-22-2125
4DAYUtoro Onsen → Kushiro
Scenes of drift ice naturally coloring the Sea of Okhotsk are unique to Hokkaido. At first glance, the drift-ice fields look flat but, in fact, overlap and rise up, three dimensionally. If the light conditions are right, you may even see drift ice that's not white, but ice blue.
Originating from a restaurant named Robata in Sendai, where locally produced seafood and vegetables were grilled in front of the customers and served on a long rice scoop. The restaurant's second apprentice then open an establishment called Robata in Kushiro. Seafood, freshly caught in the waters off the coast of Kushiro, is grilled and served.
5DAYKushiro → Tokachigawa Onsen
The town of Akan is known as the birthplace of artificial feeding of Japanese cranes. A display explaining the activities and behavior of the cranes, as well as an image corner and library corner with crane-related literature are established within the center.
■Address／23-40, Akancho Kamiakan, Kushiro-shi ■TEL／+81-154-66-4011
Fuyu no Shitsugen-go Steam Locomotive
Fuyu no Shitsugen-go Steam Locomotive is a traditional part of the winter scenery in the Kushiro Wetland, billowing white smoke as it speeds heroically through the expansive white snowfields.
■Kushiro station ■TEL／+81-154-24-3176
Sairinka - a fantastical light and snow pageant of beauty and color held at nighttime during the Swan Festival, a traditional winter of Tokachigawa Onsen. Colorful LED-filled objects synchronized with music, inviting visitors into a another world.
■Address／14tyoume, Tokachigawaonsen Kita, Otofuke-cho Kato-gun ■TEL／ +81-155-32-6633 ■http://www.tokachigawa.net/english/
6DAYTokachigawa Onsen → Sapporo
Experience the Tokachigawa morning unryu
In January and February, temperatures in the Tokachi Plain sometimes drop to below minus 15 degrees Celsius for several days on end. On fine days in mid-winter, icy fog occurs in the Tokachi River basin, and the clouds that cover the meandering river seem just like a dragon (unryu = cloud dragon).
■Address／14tyoume, Tokachigawaonsen Kita, Otofuke-cho Kato-gun ■TEL／ +81-155-32-6633 ■http://www.tokachigawa.net
Hokkaido is known for its sweets and Obihiro is particularly famous for its delicious confectionery. That is because the flour, milk, sugar, eggs, beans and other high-quality ingredients used to make the sweets are all produced in Tokachi.
Lake Shikaribetsu Kotan
The Lake Shikaribetsu Kotan is a fun-filled spot that appears on the frozen lake surface during the severe winter period. Kotan means "village" in the Ainu language, and this village - made out of snow and ice - features an ice bar and outdoor hot bath on the ice, to enable visitors to enjoy the pleasures of living in frozen land.
■Address／Shikaribetsukohan,Shikaoi-cho Kato-gun ■TEL／+81-156-69-8181
Ice bar and outdoor bath on the ice
As well as the building itself, the counter and tables of the Ice Bar are also made of ice, as are the glasses. Choose from over 20 kinds of cocktails in this authentic bar, which opens as a cafe during the daytime.
Eastern Hokkaido in summer ROUTE 01 Enjoy the great outdoors, from the Garden Road to the Shiretoko World Natural Heritage site and four national parks
Eastern Hokkaido in summer ROUTE 02 Enjoy the great outdoors, from the Garden Road to the Shiretoko World Natural Heritage site and four national parks
Eastern Hokkaido in summer ROUTE 03 Enjoy the great outdoors, from the Garden Road to the Shiretoko World Natural Heritage site and four national parks