It may be an island, but Hokkaido, Japan’s second-largest, is boundless in terms of attractions. There’s something for every traveler to see, do and eat in Hokkaido: visit a volcano, dip in the hot springs, climb a mountain (or ski down one!) and enjoy the famous food and drink native to this northern region.
1. Shikotsu-Tōya National Park
Shikotsu-Tōya National Park has 1,000 square kilometers of beautiful scenery, hiking, onsen (natural hot springs) and two lakes, including Lake Toya, a caldera (volcanic) lake that never freezes. Three active volcanoes (Showa-Shin-zan, Usa-zan, and Tarumae-zan) surround Lake Shikotsu, which is a great place for hiking, camping and vista viewing. Unwind at the hot springs in Noboribetsu, which features a bevy of springs, including one called “hell” because of its smell.
Yes, you guessed it, the city is that Sapporo—home to Japan’s number-one beer, which was first brewed here in 1876. But when you visit the capital (and largest city) of Hokkaido, you can do more than tour the Sapporo Beer Museum (and get a tasting, of course). Hit up Ramen Alley (Ramen Yokocho) on Ganso Sapporo Street with its dozen ramen joints at various price points for tourists and locals alike. Or find your own personal favorite noodle spot, as they’re scattered throughout the city.