Hokkaido spots

8 Breathtaking Spots In Hokkaido You Won’t Want To Miss


Nasreen Nasir •  Nov 28, 2023

When you think of Hokkaido, you may think of the metropolis that is Sapporo, or the mouth-watering seafood, but did you know that Hokkaido houses some of the most incredible natural wonders in the world?

That’s true, and it’s also the best place for aspiring photographers, nature lovers and Instagram enthusiasts to capture some surreal photos! From the beautiful clouds of Nakatomamu to the historical Otaru Canal, get ready to experience Hokkaido’s natural beauty like never before!

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1. Mount Hakodate

Observatories are aplenty in Hokkaido but there’s only one place you shouldn’t miss out on - Mount Hakodate. The observation deck offers sweeping vistas across the city of Hakodate – perfect time to take out your camera and snap away!

A woman in a hijab at the top of Mount Hakodate

Credit: @najasaf on Instagram

As Hakodate is one of the major port cities in Japan, the panoramic view from above is incredible! End your day by gazing at the stunning night view from the summit as it’s said to be one of Japan’s top night views. Be in awe of the multi-coloured lights in the city that form an impressive hourglass shape.

Is it your first time going to Hokkaido? We have a guide for you to ease your worries!

2. Otaru Canal

Otaru Canal

Credit: Spud & Zucchini on Facebook

Otaru may just look like an ordinary place but it holds a significant history. There are historical buildings around the port city that still stand strong today, many of them can be witnessed at the Otaru Canal. Take a scenic stroll through the promenade along the canal that’s surrounded by stone warehouses - makes you feel like walking in the city’s old black-and-white photograph.

Man next to the Otaru Canal

Credit: @_kengcomp on Instagram

Having retained much of its original features, it’s no wonder that it’s called one of the most photographed spots in all over Hokkaido. The canal is also the host of the city’s annual event called “Otaru Snow Light Road” where guests can witness tens of thousands of beautiful candles illuminate the snowy city landscape and glass lanterns whimsically reflect the surface of the canal.

3. Unkai Terrace

At Unkai Terrace, visitors can expect a rare natural phenomenon where a sea of clouds gather around you, making it possible for you to touch the clouds. Situated at the mountains of Hidaka and Tokachi at an altitude of 1,088 meters, the best time to experience this is in the wee hours of the morning.

Take the gondola from the foothill of Hoshino Resorts Tomamu and it’ll lead you to a white sea of unkai right in front of your eyes. Locals and tourists alike have used this platform to their advantage, using the remarkable view of the clouds for their social media posts. Aside from being a photographer’s haven, there is a cloud walk that was established where visitors can walk along the trails and even lie on fluffy, white clouds.

Want to relax after a long day of walking? Here are some ryokans with private onsens you can retire to.

4. Higashimokoto Shibazakura Park

Japan is filled with many flower seasons throughout the year. Take a trip to the hills of Abashiri district and a bed or shibazakura blossoms awaits. Often many people who don’t reside in Hokkaido think that the pink blossoms are not as popular as the cherry blossoms, but the locals beg to differ.

Come between May-June and you’ll find the residents in Ozora happily celebrating the arrival of the shibazakura flowers. If you’re a nature lover and have a passion for discovering flower parks around the world, look no further and make your way to the Higashimoto Shibazakura Park and take Instagram-worthy pictures against the backdrop of the Hokkaido mountains.

5. Blue Pond of Biei

On the outskirts of the hot spring town of Shirogane Onsen lies a whimsical Instagram-famous Blue Pond of Biei that’s becoming one of Hokkaido’s must-visit sights as of late, and we’d understand why. Thanks to the minerals from the nearby hot springs, the pond emits a deep blue colour while the bed turns white from the sulfur and lime.

Though it’s a man-made pond, the blue colour makes the entire atmosphere look so magical that it’s risen to popularity amongst amateur and professional photographers who are eager to strike this place off their shot bucket list.

6. Lake Onnetō

This beautiful blue lake has been dubbed as one of Hokkaido's best-kept secrets, with a 300 year-old forest surrounding the area. There are volcanoes and other lakes around that you can visit too. If you're lucky, you might be able to see frost covering the trees, giving the whole area an ethereal feeling.

In the wintertime, the lake falls below-freezing temperatures where the air bubbles get frozen. The clear ice that Lake Onneto forms gives you a clear view of these beautiful structures under the ice.

If you want to experience sweet treats, check out our article here on the only Royce Chocolate Town in the world!

7. Abashiri

Drift ice can only be seen in Hokkaido and it is a sight to behold! The freshwater from the Amur River flows to the Seao of Okhotsk and freezes up, creating sheets of ice on the surface of the water. You can book an ice-breaking cruise if you would like to see them up close!

So, when is your turn? ;) We won’t deny that there are more places waiting to be explored in Hokkaido, and the ones on this list are just the tip of the iceberg! So, the next time you’re in Hokkaido, get your cameras ready and discover parts of Hokkaido you never knew before. For more information, visit JNTO’s website and Facebook page.

8. Jigokudani

Jigokudani pathway

Jigokudani pathway

Situated in Noboribetsu, Jigokudani, better yet known as Hell Valley is a huge volcanic crater with bubbling sulfuric hot springs, hot steam vents, and a wooden pathway that you can use to explore the area. It's a respite from the cold weather if you're there in the winter! Or if you're coming down during the autumn season, the area is filled with colourful fall colours as the trees begin to shed their leaves.

This article is brought to you by AirAsia X and JNTO.