"Hokkaido" is one of the most popular tourist destinations among foreigners who love Japan. With its majestic nature, activities, fresh ingredients that can't be tasted anywhere else, and various attractions, there are many people who not only want to visit Hokkaido at least once, but have already become heavy repeaters.
This time, I would like to hear from Mr. Chen, who first visited Hokkaido during his study abroad and later got a job at a travel agency in Hokkaido, about spots he can recommend from the perspective of a "foreign resident living locally".
Mr. Chen, who has thoroughly researched (experienced) Hokkaido as a travel professional as well as a traveler, says there are "unexpected spots" he would like to recommend to travelers who love Japan and have limited opportunities to visit.
By obtaining information about spots that can be enjoyed anytime, your next trip to Hokkaido is sure to be deeper and more enjoyable.
Recommended for repeat visitors! The 7 different features of the Hidaka region are attractive
Mr. Chen, who has moved to Hokkaido from abroad and has already been there for over 20 years, first came to Asahikawa, Hokkaido. Initially, he visited Japan as a student, then returned home temporarily, but returned to Hokkaido to enter graduate school and got a job at a travel agency in Sapporo, where he is now. The reasons he likes Hokkaido are that it is calming, easy to live in, and comfortable. Through his work in travel, he has deepened his interaction with local governments and locals, and has been able to learn more about the deep charm of Hokkaido.
Mr. Chen, who is full of love for Hokkaido, recommends the Hidaka region to FUN! JAPAN members.
The Hidaka region is composed of seven cities and towns: Hidaka Town, Biratori Town, Niikappu Town, Shinhidaka Town, Urakawa Town, Samani Town, and Erimo Town. It is nationally famous as a production area for racehorses and kelp. Starting from Cape Erimo and spreading west, each area has its own unique charm, hence it is also called "Nanairo Hidaka". It is a region full of natural beauty that heals daily fatigue and is blessed with abundant nature.
"It's a great area for driving or trekking. I think it's a region that is not yet well known but can meet the needs of the mature market repeater layer in Taiwan and Hong Kong."
Mr. Chen picked up recommended spots in each of the seven cities and towns.
The Hidaka region was originally farmland, but it is said to be very suitable for raising thoroughbreds because it is warm and has less snowfall in Hokkaido. The practice of raising horses began in the Meiji era. Even now, it is nationally famous as a production area for racehorses, and there are many horse-related spots. For example, Monbetsu Racecourse (Hidaka Town), Thoroughbred Ginza (Niikappu Town), Urakawa Thoroughbred Road (Urakawa Town), etc., where you can see the unique Hokkaido ranch and grassland scenery and the gallant appearance of horses.
When it comes to Ainu culture, it's not just Shiraoi Town, but also Biratori Town that is a hub of Ainu culture. At the Nibutani Ainu Culture Museum (Biratori Town), you can learn about the history and culture of the Ainu. Mount Apoi in Samani Town, with an altitude of 810.5M, was registered as a World Geopark in 2015, and you can enjoy climbing and rare alpine plants in Hokkaido. Around early May, over 2,000 cherry trees bloom along a straight 7-kilometer stretch of the Nijukken Road (Shinhidaka Town), with both sides of the road turning pink and bustling with crowds. Lake Toyonuma (Erimo Town), which became a topic of conversation in commercials, is nicknamed Heart Lake because it looks like a heart shape from above. In early October, the forest begins to change color, and it is known as a popular autumn foliage spot in Hokkaido.
"There is demand from East Asia and Southeast Asia, and Hidaka region can accommodate all seasons, so it is particularly recommended for repeat visitors," says Mr. Chen.
- Monbetsu Racecourse（門別競馬場）：https://maps.app.goo.gl/ezEb4dLSBVe9tTKq5
- Thoroughbred Ginza（サラブレッド銀座）：https://maps.app.goo.gl/EP5JwM4TGQd1LeyLA
- Thoroughbred Road（サラブレッドロード）：https://maps.app.goo.gl/jb7Hn9qcpat26qbH8
- Nibutani Ainu Culture Museum（二風谷アイヌ文化博物館）：https://maps.app.goo.gl/wBJDwwyRCohSGqzs5
- Mt. Apoi Geopark（アポイ岳ジオパーク）：https://maps.app.goo.gl/spBEkufKAtM8AKLr8
- Nijukken road cherry blossom trees（二十間道路の桜並木）：https://maps.app.goo.gl/vPzfrJ3v86hvNKeC8
- Lake Toyoni（豊似湖）：https://maps.app.goo.gl/3eNjeqAEwHP6mDea7
Enjoy Wagyu, Vegetables, and Seafood in the Hidaka Region
When you visit the Hidaka region, you can enjoy a variety of local dishes such as meat, vegetables, and seafood. Among them, what Mr. Chen recommends is "Biratori Wagyu" produced in Biratori Town. Each "Biratori Wagyu" is carefully raised, and because it cannot be mass-produced, it is a high-quality branded beef that can only be eaten locally. Also, tomatoes from Biratori Town are famous, and processed products such as tomato juice, tomato puree, ketchup, and mead sauce are popular. In addition, "Niikappu Bell Pepper Yokan" and "Niikappu Bell Pepper Chips" from Niikappu Town are also Mr. Chen's favorite souvenirs.
For those who love sea urchin, you can't miss "Spring Sea Urchin"! The season for Hidaka's sea urchin is not summer, but spring! In the Hidaka coastal area, the season comes from March to June ahead of other regions, so it is called "Spring Sea Urchin". The Ezo Bafun sea urchin, which grows with the abundant water flowing from the Hidaka Mountains to the Pacific Ocean and the nutritious Hidaka kelp as nutrients, has a bright color and a rich, melting sweetness that is exquisite.
Unexpectedly Unknown Customs and Culture of Hokkaido Residents
We asked Mr. Chen, who has lived in Hokkaido for over 20 years, how he feels about the character of Hokkaido residents.
"People in Hokkaido call themselves 'Dosanko', which means a child born in Hokkaido. Historically, there is a culture of migration, so they are not exclusive to outsiders, but rather, they tend to accept and respect each other."
Also, many people work hard on weekdays and enjoy the nature of Hokkaido on holidays.
Hokkaido, which ranks high in the list of prefectures people most want to visit in Japan, is full of unique attractions such as magnificent nature, various local dishes and special products, unique history and culture, and hot springs that Japan is proud of. It attracts a large number of people from both inside and outside the country.
This time, thanks to the introduction by Mr. Chen who moved to Hokkaido, we learned for the first time about the charm of the Hidaka region of Hokkaido, which has not been known until now.
As an international student and a traveler, Mr. Chen encountered the beloved Hokkaido.
Then, through his work in the tourism industry and various planning and proposals, he was able to delve deeper into the charm of the region, which made him love Hokkaido even more.
"Even after 20 years, I never get tired of it," says Mr. Chen, who will likely continue to share the deeper charm of Hokkaido for tourists in the future.