Our first trip visiting Hokkaido on our own – Sapporo > Otaru > Niseko > Hakodate > Toya-ko (by public transport).
Remaining snow was on the roads/pavements here and there, while some Azaleas were blossoming.
Former Gov’t Bldg
Tower in Odori Park
Sapporo Beer factory
Easy day visit and stayed in hotel overlooking Otaru Port.
BOJ Otaru Museum
kitaichi glass emporium
“Sea Cat house”
old Hokkaido bank (otaru bine)
Port view from Hilton hotel
stayed in Niseko Konbu onsen for the first time. Returned in 2008 by car.
visited the Historical Buildings area including the ex-British Consulate where we had a tea set. Had dinner in the warehouse area. Returned in 2008 for Mt Hakodate night view and others.
russian orthodox church
view from Hachiman-saka dori
old public hall of hakodate
Onuma National Park
On next day, went to the famous morning market to have breakfast. Took the Steam Locomotive (SL train) to visit Onuma National Park. Spent about 2 hours there.
breakfast at morning market
Steam Locomotive (SL) ride
Onuma National Park
red brick warehouses
2nd stay in onsen hotel. Lucky to have fireworks commencing from 29th April – the first day of the golden week.
Mt Yotei in background
Shichiku garden (紫竹ガーデン)
visited Shichiku garden when tulip was blossoming on a sunny day.
Drove by beautiful Tokachi plain and onward to Furano. Visited Tomita Farm for the first time in early June.
Tokachi plain along the way
visited rapeseed farms outside Takikawa.
sheep were rarely seen in Japan
returned to Sapporo and stayed in hotel on top of station.
views from room
view from dining place
My first time driving in Japan.
After landing in New Chitose airport, took train to Obihiro and stayed overnight. Picked up rental car on next morning then drove to Akan-ko. Stayed in Tsuruga onsen ryokan for the first time.
It was a rainy and cold day, around 11C if my memory was correct even in end May.
view of Akan-ko
Higashi-Mokoto Shibazakura Park (
It was a rainy day with drizzles at times, but the scenery was awesome with the scale of Shibazakura on the hill slope.
visited this lake for the first time and immediately fell in love with it. It was serene with almost perfect reflections from the hotel garden and from room.
wild onsen along lake rim
serene reflections in lake
plants in the hotel garden
view from room
Kotan onsen in the wild
stayed in this onsen for the first time and would return another 5 times.
view from balcony
The Yuni Garden is a huge English garden. Various flowers were blooming in late June when we visited. Worthy to spend a few hours there for those who love gardens and flowers.
Second visit in Shikotsu-ko for relaxing onsen stay.
Visited and stayed in Toya-ko 4th time. The sculptures around the lake rim are interesting.
Fireworks in the evening and on the next day before returning to Sapporo
Mt Annupuri in the distance
Visited Hokkaido in late June for 1 week after the 3.11 Tohoku big earthquake to support Japan.
CTS > Yubari > Tokachigawa onsen > Furano > Toya-ko > Sapporo
After a brief overnight stay in Yubari, drove to Obihiro and stayed in our favourite Tokachigawa onsen again.
90-year old soba shop in Obihiro
Tokachigawa onsen park
stayed in one of our favourite onsen ryokans
overlooking Tokachigawa from our balcony
Tokachi plain from observatory
stopped by serene Kanayama-ko while driving en route to Furano.
flowers were blooming such as Iris, Dahlia, Gazania, Poppy and early Lavender etc.
early Lavender species
Tokachi range in the distance
Stopped by Senbou-toge for panoramic view of Tokachi plain, and to our surprise Wisteria (Fuji) was blooming in the resting area. Wild Lupins were blooming here and there on the road side and Flowerland.
Shikisai-no-oka, Biei Patchwork Road
Dropped by Shikisai-no-oka as usual and had quick lunch there. Re-visited some famous trees in that area before visiting the Philosophical Tree. We did not realize this would be our last encounter 🙁
Biei Patchwork road
The Philosophical Tree
2nd visit since 2004. Dropped by Onuma National Park while en route. Koyo was about 10%. Took an easy walking path of 1 hour. Nice view of Mount Komagatake in the distance.
Yunokawa onsen and Trappist Convent
While we took a day time onsen in Yunokawa in 2004, we stayed in an onsen ryokan with seaview and rotenburo in-room. On the next morning, visited the Trappist Monastery before returning to Hakodate city.
view of Mt Hakodate from onsen ryokan
Kaiseki dinner in-room
our room with rotenburo facing the sea
Back in Hakodate city, we first visited Kosetsu-en, a famous garden for Koyo. Though Koyo was about 10%, it was a nice walk. We then headed to the morning market for lunch and checked in to new onsen hotel with view of Mt Hakodate and bay. Went up to Mt Hakodate for famous nightview. The narrow road up to the peak was so congested that there were long lines of cars and buses on either way. On the next morning, we strolled around in the bay area before heading back to Sapporo.
Cosmos were blooming
lunch in morning market
as happy as this cat
cool city trams
Mt Hakodate view from room
Mt Hakodate nightview
Cape Kamui and Shakotan Peninsula
at the north-western tip of Hokkaido. Took about 2 hours from Niseko to skirt around the coastline to get there.
coastline while heading north to Cape Kamui
Shimamui-kaikan in Shakotan Peninsula
clear blue sea water from above
Took about 1 hour drive from Shakotan to Otaru. Stayed in a hotel overlooking the Shukutsu coastline in Otaru. as we have visited Otaru twice before, did not stop by the city centre this time.
Hoheikyo and Jozankei onsen
our first visit – Koyo was a bit late in both, which are in the outskirts of Sapporo. Stayed overnight in an onsen ryokan in Jozankei.
In this Koyo trip, we visited Hokkaido from mid to late Oct starting from Shikotsu-ko, Toya-ko, Niseko, Cape Kamui, Otaru, Sapporo and Hakodate.
First stay right after landing in nearby New Chitose airport, about 30min by car. Deep-blue lake in peak Koyo.
sunrise from onsen ryokan
Koyo was a bit after peak. Nevertheless, it was a sunny day and it was my first shots on fireworks.
view from Sairo Observatory
Mt Yotei in the distance
visited Shinsen-numa for the 1st time. Koyo was clearly beyond peak in mid-Oct due to higher elevation. Refer to our trip in Oct 2013 when we visited 1 week earlier to catch peak Koyo.
At the foothill of Mt Yotei, about 15-20min walk from car park through a forest of White Birch (Shirakaba in Japanese).
Mt Yotei with a cap 🙂
Lakes in Hokkaido East
After visiting the Kamiyubetsu Tulip Park, drove to Abashiri-ko for onsen resort, while stopping by Saroma-ko, Notoro-ko en route. Each of these lakes are huge and almost indiscernible from the sea. On the next day, visited Kussharo-ko, Mashu-ko and Onneto while heading to Tokachigawa onsen.
Coral grass habitat in Notoro-ko
sunset view from Abashiri-ko onsen hotel
4th visit – lucky to have clear views
Onneto – 2nd visit
View from Tokachigawa onsen hotel
There were not many flowers blooming in Tomita Farm in end May, except for some poppies. The Hoshi Hayazaki (deep purple early blossom) Lavender grown in a small house was always an attraction, same for the dried flowers in the shop.
Hoshi Hayazaki lavender with fragrance
lots of dried flowers sets in shop
Daisetsuzan in Spring
Out of the several times we had visited Biei, this is the 1st time when Daisetsuzan could be seen so clearly in blue sky and not covered by clouds/mists. In fact, when we passed by Minami-Furano, it rained quite heavily. We also dropped by the blue bond before checking in an onsen hotel in Furano. Though it is beautiful, it is overrated in my opinion if compared with the lakes in Hokkaido East.
view from Senbo toge
Daisetsuzan in the distance
view from Shiki-no-oka
Sapporo Moerenuma Park
This is another huge park in the north-eastern corner of the city. This park is a fusion of art and nature. Bicycles can be rented from the entrance.
Moerenuma Park website
Sapporo Lilac Festival
The Sapporo Lilac Festival lasted from mid to late May. There were 2 venues but we went to the one in Odori Park only. During the weekends, there were live music performances, food stalls and wine bars offering fresh food and drinks. There were many people on that Sunday morning, all having a good time welcoming the arrival of Spring.
Old Government Building
Lilac with slight fragrance
Food stalls from all over the world
Grilled shellfish from Akeshi
Wine bar from Hokkaido
Sapporo Lilac Festival
Drove to Tomita Farm in Kami-Furano. When we arrived at Hinode (sunrise) garden in Biei after 3pm, sun was slowly setting and it shined a warm yellowish orange glow in the fields, a slightly pink glow in the far away Mt Tokachi range.
On the next day, we continued our visits in Biei. First we went to Flowerland where the deep red Kochia quickly caught our attention, whereas the pink Cosmos is a widely seen in Autumn Hokkaido. Next we quickly drove around the Patchwork road to visit the Mild-Seven trees, the family trees, Ken & Mary tree, the Philosophical tree – our favourite. From Shikisai-no-oka, we noticed the Mt Tokachi range was well covered in snow (in the distance), so we headed up to the mountain gate where it was covered in snow.
Ken & Mary tree
Mt Tokachi range
Mt Tokachi from Biei
in Sapporo, fall foliage was probably at 70% peak. Visited the campus of University of Hokkaido, and Nakajima Park.