Come and explore Hokkaido’s epic winter atmosphere! Trek through beautiful snow-filled landscapes, jump on drift ice in a “dry suit,” drill a hole into a frozen lake and fish for smelt, and of course visit the famous Sapporo Snow Festival where you’ll see massive snow and ice sculptures carved to perfection! There will also be many opportunities to learn about the “Ainu,” the indigenous people of Hokkaido. See how they survived the harsh winters and lived in harmony with nature, with bears and wild dogs as an essential part of their life! Get ready for delicious seafood, outdoor adventures, fun local experiences with local people and surreal National Parks. Enjoy!
Chitose Airport > Sapporo
Your journey starts now! Make your way through the Chitose Airport, which is actually quite an interesting destination on its own! Get acquainted with your driver and be sure to dress warm before heading outside bound for Sapporo! Welcome to the City of Sapporo, the capital of Hokkaido! Have fun exploring the beautiful city at your leisure and enjoy the spectacular winter atmosphere. Visit some local sightseeing spots all within walking distance or just a few stops away on the foreigner friendly public transportation. Sapporo Beer Factory, Sapporo Art Park, Hokkaido Museum and the Historical Hokkaido Village would all make for an excellent destination for your first day. Don’t forget to try some local favorites for dinner: Ramen, Genghis Khan, Yakitori and Soup Curry are highly recommended!
Sapporo > Sapporo
Get ready to explore the spectacular internationally recognized Sapporo Snow Festival! Here you’ll see massive sculptures made of Ice and snow detailed to perfection. The first Sapporo Snow festival was held in Odori Park in 1950, with only six statues made by local high school students and surprisingly attracted around 50,000 visitors. These days, the festival is held at 3 separate venues in Sapporo and attracts more than 2 million visitors each year with masterfully created snow and ice sculpture displays running approximately 1.5 kilometers through Odori Park. Bundle up in your warm winter apparel and have fun! The 2019 Sapporo Snow Festival is held from February 4th~11th.
Sapporo > Asahidake
Let’s visit the morning market in Sapporo for a fresh seafood breakfast! This is a wholesale market with restaurants opening from 7:00am providing some of the best seafood in all of Japan. We highly recommend the juicy Hokkaido King Crab! Next stop, Arte Piazza in Bibai, a sculpture park in the countryside mountains where forty sculptures of Kan Yasuda, an internationally renowned sculptor, are exhibited. Kan Yasuda is originally from Bibai and now lives and works in his studio in Pietrasanta, Northern Italy where he continues to work with marble and bronze. His works can be spotted in public spaces all throughout Hokkaido! Finish the day with a fun local experience making Udon or Soba noodles from scratch with friendly locals!
Asahidake > Asahidake
Get ready for an epic snow shoeing adventure to see picturesque landscapes and volcanic activity on Mt. Asahidake, an active volcano! Explore the breathtaking beauty and mysteriously powerful landscape of Daisetsuzan National Park. You’ll take the Mt. Asahi ropeway to a disembarkation station and from there enjoy a trekking tour on one of the most picturesque paths to the highest point in all of Hokkaido. Your experienced guide will take you on a scenic route close to areas with volcanic steam and snow-white smoke spewing from the earth’s core! Finish your day with a well-deserved relaxing time in the hot springs.
Asahidake > Shikaoi
Check out of your hotel and make your way to Furano for a fun cultural experience with local people where you’ll get to test your hand-eye coordination in making ceramics and wooden chopsticks! After lunch, you’ll stop by Lake Kanayama, an area known for its rich wildlife. Giant phantom fish, rainbow trout and smelt inhabit the lake in abundance. Today you’ll have a unique Smelt Ice Fishing experience! Try drilling a hole into the ice of the frozen lake and see how long it takes before you get a nibble on your fishing line! How many smelt can you catch as a team? The best part is that you’ll get to make fresh tasty tempura right there on the spot! Enjoy!
Shikaoi > Akan
Wake up and get ready to be refreshed by a ride in a Hot Air Balloon taking you up sky high. You’ll love the serene picturesque view of the vast snow-covered landscape. What a great way to start your day! After the wonderful view, head back to your cottage for a heartwarming breakfast and get ready for a day full of fun cultural activities! First, your guide will take you to meet with a team of friendly locals where you’ll learn how to make Tofu and delicious Shabushabu for lunch! Have fun meeting new people and making friends. Next, you’ll make your way to Akan, a special site where you can learn about and experience Ainu culture, the indigenous people of Hokkaido. The workshops, performances and museums offer close-up insight into the way of life of the Ainu people, who lived in harmony with nature. Bears and Hokkaido dogs were an essential part of Ainu life too! Enjoy a traditional Ainu carving workshop!
Akan > Akan
Enjoy a full day packed with wildlife and nature! Start your day with a visit to Lake Kussahro, the largest caldera in all of Japan in terms of surface area, located in Akan National Park. As with many geographic names in Hokkaido, the name “Kussharo” derives from the Ainu Language meaning, “where God’s walk.” Enjoy a surreal outdoor activity canoeing through fairy-tail like fog and glistening diamond dust! Lake Kussharo is also a famous area where whooper swans return every year. Appreciate their graceful presence and have fun capturing them on camera! Next, your guide will drive you to Teshikaga Town for a cozy lunch and coffee break before making your way to Tsurui Town to see the majestic Japanese Cranes! The Tsuri-Ito Tancho Sanctuary was established by the Wild Bird Society of Japan to protect the cranes and their natural habitat. These beautiful red-crowned cranes are known for their lifelong romantic partnerships that begin with courtships consisting of posing, bowing and leaping high into the air. It can also be interpreted as a kind of “love dance.” With a little luck, you may be able to see one of these majestic performances!
Finish the day relaxing at your resort hotel enjoying the hot springs.
Akan > Rausu
Today you’ll visit the mysterious Lake Mashu, known as the second clearest lake in the world, second to Lake Baikal in Russia. The name, “Mashuko” also derives from the Ainu Language meaning, “A mountain god’s lake” and is quite mysterious in the sense that even though there is no river connected to it, the water levels barely change after heavy rainfall. Follow your guide to an observation deck built on a cliff overlooking the lake at a height of 300 to 400 meters above the lake’s surface! You’ll surely feel inspired by the scenery. You’ll then stop for lunch at a local restaurant on your way to Hashirikotan, where you’ll get to see an abundance of wildlife, including deer, foxes, birds and more!
Rausu > Rausu
Wake up in Shiretoko National Park, one of the most beautiful places in Japan, registered as a World Heritage Site, thanks to the well-preserved nature and abundance of wildlife. Take a drift ice nature cruise from Rausu known as the “EverGreen!” From the ship, you can see such natural treasures as white-tailed and sea eagles flocking in a world of ice. You may even be able to see the faces of seals peeping from between the waves. Rausu is an area famous for having the most delicious seasonal sea urchin from January through June. Enjoy learning how to shuck sea urchin and make your own fresh seafood bowl for lunch. Finish the day relaxing in all-natural hot springs followed by a spectacular dinner in your resort hotel.
Rausu > Memanbetsu Airport
After breakfast at your hotel, sit back and enjoy a 2-hour scenic drive to through Shiretoko National Park to a town called Utoro. Here you’ll get to experience one of the rarest things to do in all of Hokkaido! Put on a “Dry Suit” and get ready for an adventure of a lifetime! Experience walking on drift ice out in the frozen sea. These massive blocks of floating ice are at their peak during February and March and truly are a spectacular sight. Finish the day with an interesting tour through the “Hokkaido Museum of Northern People,” where you’ll learn all about the indigenous people of Hokkaido including the Ainu, the Inuit, the Sami and the Siberian Peoples. The established museum has beautiful exhibitions covering a variety of topics including, clothing, food, transportation, dwellings, and the spiritual world of the indigenous people and how they lived.
We hope you had a wonderful experience here in Hokkaido and look forward to traveling with you again in the near future!