Let’s just say that Hokkaido was a learning experience for my travel buddy and me. We went during our spring break as teachers, and it turned out to be off season for just about everything. It was too warm for the snow attractions and too cold for the spring attractions. This was our first big trip together and we learned our first big lesson: always check your location out for seasonal closings. So many of the popular tourist places were ghost-towns or just completely closed. On the last day, we hiked up a road for several kilometers, hauling our luggage, only to find out that the dam we were going to was closed until May.
For the record, I do not recommend visiting Hokkaido in April. But we had a fun time, anyway. Here are some of the things we did that were actually open and enjoyable! (also, please excuse the photos, these are iPhone only because I didn’t bring my DSLR)
1. Mt. Moiwa
This was, by far, my favorite part of the trip. We rode up the cable care over the enchanting, snow-covered mountains and when we reached the top… The view was spectacular. To this day, I haven’t seen a prettier landscape. The pictures do not do it justice.
2. Sapporo Clock Tower
This place was pretty cool. It was built in 1878 and the clock hasn’t been adjusted since. It still rings right on the dot every time. It has a definite western feel, as Sapporo was initially settled by Japanese that had western investors backing their ventures. It’s cheap, interesting, and doesn’t take long to visit. It’s also one of the things Sapporo is most well-known for.
3. (Former) Government Office
This is another museum that is full of interesting history of the international dealings that built Sapporo. If you’re not a Social Studies teacher (like me) you might not enjoy it so much, but there is a room full of gifts from sister cities all over the world, which is pretty cool.
4. Sapporo Ramen
Sapporo Ramen is known for being extra tasty and this place did not let us down. We had to wait outside in the cold for a bit, but it was totally worth it.
5. Sapporo TV Tower
We waited until the evening to go up and the lights were gorgeous. But if you want to pick one vantage point to take in the city, I definitely recommend Mt. Moiwa over the TV Tower.
6. Moerenuma Park
This was a nice, big park with a giant glass pyramid reminiscent of the Louvre. It’s in the middle of nowhere, so we had to take a bus and then make sure to not miss the next one. There was also a large hill to hike and apparently attractions in the pyramid during the summer season. Again, check out season times!
7. Otaku Canal Village
This place was really pretty and fun. It’s not too far outside of Sapporo and it is full of beautiful buildings and interesting shops. It’s right off the coast and laced with these canals throughout. Make sure to go in the morning. We went in the afternoon and most everywhere closed around 5.
8. Asahiyama Zoo
I put this one last because it is the most expensive and the farthest away from Sapporo. We had to take a bus for two hours (which wasn’t cheap) and then buy (also not cheap) tickets to go here. But it was really fun! The exhibits were really interesting and the animals were unique. We even got to see emperor penguins walking around the zoo as part of their (optional) daily exercise. If you like seeing animals, it’s definitely worth going.
Have you ever been to Hokkaido? What was your favorite place to see?