In Hokkaido, the first snow falls in early November, and the average temperature drops below freezing in December. Snowstorms sometimes disrupt the transportation system. In winter, the temperature indoors is high and the difference in temperature between inside and outside is over 30 degrees Celsius, so it is necessary to wear layers of clothing that can be easily removed. By the second half of March, the accumulated snow begins to melt and the sounds of spring can be heard.
Hokkaido in winter is known for its illuminations. Illuminations are held in various parts of Hokkaido from mid-November. In Sapporo, the Sapporo White Illumination and the Sapporo Snow Festival are major winter events. Many tourists visit the city and enjoy the delicious food. The Lake Shikotsu Ice Festival near New Chitose Airport is also popular, and the Sounkyo Ice Fall Festival, which takes three months to create, is fantastic. The Shiretoko Drift Ice Cruise is a must-see.
Jozankei Onsen Shiraito waterfalls
This waterfall is popular for its beauty, which changes its appearance from early summer to autumn when the leaves change color. During the severe cold season, the waterfall freezes over, creating a fantastic sight.
There is a guidance map of the whole Jozankei Onsen area in Jozankei Tourist Information Center.
Sounkyo Ice Fall Festival
Three months in the making. The ice sculptures were created by working in sub-zero temperatures and freezing multiple layers of ice. The seven colored lights create a fantastic world. On weekends, fireworks are also set off, making it one of the most popular winter festivals in Hokkaido.
Jewelry Ice in Toyokoro Town
Jewelry Ice can be seen from mid-January to late February every year at Otsu Beach in Toyokoro.
Ice from the Tokachi River flows into the Pacific Ocean and is washed up on the Otsu Coast.
The sight of the crystal-clear ice blocks sparkling in the sunshine is truly breathtaking.
Drift Ice Sightseeing & Icebreaker Ship “Aurora”
If you’re in Abashiri, climb aboard! The drift ice sightseeing icebreaker is only available during the winter. You can also see animals such as seals and Steller’s sea eagles. The view from the observation deck is fantastic! Don’t forget to bring warm clothes.
Foggy Ice Spots in Sarabetsu
When the temperature is below minus 20 degrees Celsius, the water vapor rising from the surface of the Sarubetsu River turns into ice and adheres to the plants and trees as silver frost. You can enjoy nature’s art in the beautiful world of ice from mid-January to early February.
Hakodate Tropical Botanical Garden
The Hakodate City Tropical Botanical Garden, located in a corner of Yunokawa Onsen Town, is home to 3,000 tropical plants of about 300 species. Also, at the Saruyama Hot Springs, about 90 Japanese macaques can be seen taking a dip in the hot springs from December through May.
Hakodate Hachimanzaka slope
Going back from Old Public Hall of Hakodate Ward, there are streets where luxurious brick construction and traditional houses of wooden Western-style buildings have been built along with the development of foreign trade.
This is a beautiful road that overlooks the harbor as a slope following the original Hakodate Hachimangu Shrine (now relocated). At the bottom of the slope, you can see Hakodate Port and the Hakodate City Seikan Train Ferry Memorial Museum Mashu-maru, and at night the slope is beautifully lit with twinkling city lights.