Hokkaido: Best Things to Do in Winter 2019

Hokkaido in Winter: Best Things to Do

When is the best time to visit Hokkaido?? After reading this article, you may think winter (from December to February) is the best season to visit and have most wonderful experience in Hokkaido!


Japanese northern wonderland, Hokkaido is one of the most popular travel destinations in the country through the year. With the tremendous nature, beautiful cities and delicious food, Hokkaido is a pure treasure land of Japan.

As it’s located in northernmost of the country, the climate in Hokkaido is much cooler than mainland of Japan. During winter time from December to February, it snows regularly and the temperature drops below 0℃, which results many tourists avoid visiting there due to the unfamiliar weather condition. However, it’s also the most beautiful time of the year when the vast land is covered in white snow, creating the most spectacular scenery.

So today, I’d like to introduce some of most wonderful things you can see/experience in Hokkaido only in winter time and why it could be the best time to visit 😉


1. Ski/Snowboarding

Hokkaido is home to several world class ski/snowboarding resorts, which attracts visitors from all over the world. The quality of powder snow in Hokkaido is highly praised and the magnificent scenery of mountain range is just breathtaking. Multiple slopes are offered depending on your skii levels, and even if you are not into winter sports, most of resorts offers snow parks, onsen and some indoor facilities. Most of ski resorts in Hokkaido open from late November~early December till April~May.

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2. Natural Phenomena

Winter in Hokkaido is so cold that something very extraordinary can happen. There are some “natural phenomena” which we can only see in Hokkaido with particular conditions, such as “Diamond Dust”, “Sun Pillar” or “Snow Roller”. This is why Hokkaido deserves to be called Japanese winter wonderland 🙂

3. Sapporo Snow Festival

The country’s biggest winter snow festival is held in Sapporo City, Hokkaido every year and invites millions of visitors. It’s simply amazing to see the amount of man-made snow/ice sculptures are displayed, and the city gets so festive by celebrating the frozen winter. It’s definitely one of best festivals in the world.

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4. Otaru

Otaru (小樽) is a harbour city near Sapporo (approx 38 km away). It’s a popular side trip destination best known for the scenic streetscape with the canal and old warehouses as the city used to serve as a port town in late 19th century. There is a light-up event “Snow Light Path Festival” held during February, and the city glows with white snow at night.

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5. Watching Drift Ice

Drift ice can be seen in the Okhotsk Sea in the eastern part of Hokkaido during winter. But how?? Of course with “Icebreaker Ship”!! There are two ships operates during winter: Garinko from Monbetsu City and Aurora from Abashiri City, both can take passengers to the frozen open sea through drift ice. Take the most exciting winter voyage 😉

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6. Ice Village

The ice village of Lake Shikaribetsu only appears during the coldest time of year from late January to early March, literally on the frozen lake. The village consist of an ice and snow made bar, concert hall, chapel, lodge and open air Onsen bath.

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7. Crab

What’s the best thing to do in Hokkaido?? I guess one of biggest reasons for many is to try their delicious local food. Especially winter is the best time to taste their famous seafood products, CRAB. Early winter is the best time to try Hokkaido’s signature King Crab (Tarabagani), which is very thick and has rich taste. You can also find other crabs like Snow Crab (Zuwaigani) in mid winter and Hairy crab (Kegani) from late winter.

▼Book the famous CRAB restaurant in Sapporo city!▼


▼Check out more Winter Festivals in Hokkaido! ▼

What did you think about my list of most attractive things about Hokkaido in winter time?? There are more spots where you can have special “winter” experiences in Japan! You may wanna check out these articles below to find out where! 😉

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