Hokkaido, the ever-popular holiday destination in winter, offers a great variety of things to do. From skiing to attending snow festivals and illumination events, there’s something for everyone. Not to mention, the winter scene in Hokkaido is truly magnificent and will leave a lasting impression on you.
How is Hokkaido in Winter?
With mountains, lakes and waterfalls in abundance, Hokkaido is the place to be to experience an authentic Japanese winter. With heavy snowfalls and illumination shows, you’ll be presented with a magical scenery that’s bound to be etched in your memory.
The Temperature is Sub Zero
While there’s plenty of sightseeing spots with memorable views to visit, do keep in mind that it can get very cold. As the coolest prefecture, the average temperatures lie around -4°C and can get as low as -6°C.
Clothes to Wear during Winter in Hokkaido
Please make sure to bring clothes that will keep you comfortably warm and wear many layers to protect yourself from the cold.
Fun Things to Do in Hokkaido in Winter
Partake in Winter Sports
Hokkaido is perfect for winter sports, especially skiing, due to its top-quality snow. There are loads of ski resorts and depending on what you’re interested in, you can choose one that meets your requirements. Either go for one in Niseko that has hot springs, Sapporo that has beer, or Rusutsu that has an amusement park.
Visit the Stunning Hoshi no Yume
Designated as a historical sight, Goryokaku Fortress is star-shaped and was the main fortress of the short-lived Republic of Ezo. This makes it a compelling place for history fans to visit.
What makes it even more stunning is that the outline of the fortress’ moat is adorned with thousands of light bulbs; this paired with the snow offers a surreal sight, which can be enjoyed from the tower nearby.
- Spot name: Goryokaku Hoshi no Yume
- Street address: 44 Goryokaku-cho, 040-0001 Hakodate-shi, Hokkaido
- Access: About 8 minutes’ walk from Goryokaku Park Entrance Bus Stop
Enjoy the Winter Festivals in Hokkaido
Here are some great winter festivals you should not miss:
Sapporo Snow Festival
This is a huge winter event with millions of visitors, both Japanese and foreign alike. Odori Koen is lined with various snow sculptures and are illuminated from sunset till 10pm.
The International Snow Sculpture Contest is held here, with participants from all over the country, making it exciting for spectators as they’re able to watch these works of art being built.
- Spot name: Sapporo Snow Festival
- Street address: 4 Odorinishi, Chuo-ku, 060-0042 Sapporo-shi, Hokkaido
- Access: About 1 minute walk from Odori Station, and 4 minutes’ walk from Tokeidaimae Bus Stop
Sounkyo Hyoubaku Festival
This ice waterfall festival exhibits diverse ice carvings that are illuminated with colourful lights at night. Also, to add to the excitement, there’s a fireworks display. The Ishikari river flows in the centre of the venue, giving it an ethereal feel. Moreover, there’s an observatory from which you’ll have a splendid view of the surroundings.
- Spot name: Sounkyo Hyoubaku Festival
- Street address: Sounkyo, Kamikawa-cho, 078-1701 Kamikawa-gun, Hokkaido
- Access: About 35 minute drive from Kamikawa Station
Revel in the Beauty of Blue Pond in Hokkaido during Winter
This brilliant man-made pond is one of the most beautiful in the world. Offering a different scenery each season, it will absolutely delight nature-lovers. Its bluish clear water presents a sense of tranquility. What’s more, in winter, not only is the pond frozen over and covered in white snow, but the surrounding trees are also illuminated.
- Spot name: Shirogane Blue Pond
- Street address: Shirogane, Biei-cho, 071-0235 Kamikawa-gun, Hokkaido
- Access: About 5 minutes’ walk from Shirogane-Aoi Ike Entrance Bus Stop