must-see hokkaido

Top 5 Must-see Hokkaido Spots in Winter 

In this post, I’m gonna share my top 5 must-see spots Hokkaido spots in winter. These spots are recommended to me by the locals while I was living there. If you have only been to Sapporo, then you haven’t seen the REAL beauty of Hokkaido.

Spots are not in any particular ranking. All places are accessible via JR trains and buses.

  1. Biei

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Mile Seven Hill in Biei @dingalingy_

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Foxtracks at Mile Seven hill in Biei @dingalingy_

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Biei hills 美瑛の丘

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Ken and Mary tree, Biei ケンとメリーの木

Biei, also named Patchwork hills, is one of the prettiest places in Hokkaido and Japan. Your favourite Calbee potatoes are grown here if you still do not know. Biei is also famous for its agricultural products such as onions and pumpkin.

The reason why it is called Patchwork hills is because the pattern of its hills are like a patchwork quilt. I admit that I am partially biased to this place as I used to live here.

See also: My life as a helper-san

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Biei hills in Autumn after harvest.

If you’re looking for something that is rustic and countryside, this place is a must-see Hokkaido spot!

2. Furano

Furano is well know for its flower fields in spring and summer. In winter, you can’t see any of that but nevertheless it is still pretty like a winter wonderland.

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At Shikisai no oka, Furano.

Reasons why Furano is a must-see Hokkaido spot:

At Shikisai no oka (四季彩の丘), you can feed alpacas.

furano must-see hokkaido

Alpaca aiming to spit at my head.

You can enjoy a ride on the snow mobile or just look cool posing with it.


And play with their funny souvenirs in their souvenir shop.


And you can visit a famous cafe..


Heading for Mori-no-Tokei (Watch of the forest) – famous cafe


Mori-no-tokei (森の時計)- Arashi member Ninomiya used to star in a drama shot here more than 10 years ago.

And grind your own coffee..


While contemplating bout life.


And you wait for the illumination for Ningle Terrace, a shopping villge of 10 small shopping huts selling handmade handicrafts.

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Ningle Terrace ニングルテラス

3. Shiretoko – Utoro

In winter around Feb to mid March, tons of drift ice (Ryuhyou 流氷) from the Okhotsk sea would gather at Abashiri and Shiretoko. It’s a sight not to be missed!  photo GOPR0985_1488619114762_high_zps4dvgmfro.jpg

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Drift ice at Shiretoko @dingalingy_ 流氷

You can do even walk on the drift ice! See here.

You also cannot miss going to the Shiretoko Five Lakes. It is also said that they are one of the clearest lakes in Japan. But in winter they are frozen and covered with snow but still the snow capped mountains are a sight to behold.

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Shiretoko five lakes 知床五湖

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Close up of Shiretoko five lakes 知床五湖

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Shiretoko five lakes snowshoe tour

There are snowshoe walking tours conducted for Shiretoko Five Lakes. Bear in mind that this is a protected zone and only a certain number of visitors are allowed into this area and has to be led by a guide. Sightings of wild animals such as bears are not common in winter as they are still hibernating.

4. Teshikaga (弟子屈)

A lot of people don’t know that actually Teshikaga is a really beautiful place. It is not common on the tourist radar because of the lack of promotion of its tourist spots. The town is small but not out of the way. People are really friendly here too.

It is a must-see Hokkaido spot because:

Lake Mashu

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Lake Mashu @dingalingy_

A huge crater lake that used to formed part of an active volcano.

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Lake Kushiro canoeing

There’s plenty of activities you can do such as hot air balloon rides, canoeing, snowshoe tours. It is also very close to Lake Akan, another famous lake in Hokkaido.


Enjoying a hot cup of coffee while canoeing


The canoeing experience was really awesome. I had Never in my life canoed at 6am before but now i understood why – because you really get to see the sightings you don’t see at other times!

5. Otaru

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To be honest, I really only went to Otaru for this Canal and its sweets. It’s a huge draw for couples. If you are going to visit with your partner, this is a must-go place with your other half. In winter, this place turns ultra romantic when it snows.

Otaru is also the mecca of pastry sweets (in japanese we call it sweets). Many famous candymakers have their main branch there. For example:

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Rokkatei 六花亭

There’s also Kitakarou (北菓楼). All these shops have free tastings which is why I usually skip dessert after lunch.

However, beware of the hoards of tourists here.

Articles you might be interested in: Hokkaido Food Travel Guide


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