7 Things to Do in Hokkaido, Japan

Hokkaido, Japan is the northernmost island of Japan. It was the last to be developed by the mainland Japanese. Most people who go to Japan usually only go to Tokyo or Kyoto and sometimes Osaka. The island of Hokkaido has a lot of interesting things to offer. 

1. Watch some glass-blowing and see some canals in Otaru.

Think that Venice is the only city with canals? This small city a 25 minute drive from Sapporo is considered one of the most picturesque Japanese cities. It is also famous for it’s glass industry. See workers make glass objects the old-fashioned way, by heating and blowing blobs of glass into beautiful art. Shop at the many glass-art stores and buy pretty souveniers 

2. Ride a swan boat on lake Shikotsu.

This beautiful lake within driving distance of Sapporo was formed from the crater of a volcano. Rent out a swan-shaped paddle boat or visit the historical centre for a Free English DVD for tourists. This lake is one of the only places in the world where you can find a creature called a marimo. Marimo  are small spheres of moss that grow on the bottom of certain lakes. 

3. Eat Jingisu Kan (Gengis Khan).

Jingisu Kan, a dish named after Gengis Khan, is a delicacy unique to Hokkaido. If you order Jingisu Kan, you will receive a plate of raw lamb meat and vegetables. Don’t worry, though the Japanese have a certain fondness for raw fish, it does not extend to lamb as well. In the middle of the table will be a cast iron barbeque. You cook the lamb meat and vegetables on this. If you have ever had the desire to barbeque indoors, here is your chance. 

4. Drink Sapporo beer in Sapporo.

The worldwide headquarters of the Sapporo Beer Brewing Company. You can go to the Sapporo Beer Museum. Even if you don’t like museums, you get beer at the end of this one. 

5. Eat Ramen.

Hokkaido is famous for its quality ramen noodles. These are not to be confused with the instant cups of noodles available in the west. These are big bowls of steaming noodles, topped with things like pork, vegetables or even seafood. 

6. Play around in Moerenuma Park.

Located in Sapporo, this park was designed to be as much a work of sculpture as it was a functional outdoor space. High points include the Tetra Mound, a giant stainless steel pyramid, a man-made mountain with a spectacular view of the surrounding area, and a giant fountain. 

7. Visit the Gods at Hokkaido Temple.

No trip to Japan would be complete without visiting at least one temple. Hokkaido Temple is one of the largest and oldest on Hokkaido. Buy a wooden plate, write your wish on it and hang it on a frame for your wish to come true. Make an offering to the gods or buy a charm to ward against evil. If you're not worried about evil, buy one for safety in travel.  

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Posted on Nov 9, 2010