Sapporo is the gateway to winter activities
Hokkaido editor-in-chief Naoki Hayashi

Gourmet food, hot springs and nature spots are not the only ways to enjoy Sapporo, Hokkaido’s largest city. In Sapporo there are numerous activities where you can experience the natural beauty of Hokkaido. We asked Naoki Hayashi, editor-in-chief of “Hokkaido”—the tourism site for fully enjoying the nature of Hokkaido—about the charm of winter in Sapporo and how to enjoy it.

Experiences of Hokkaido in winter just around the corner

“The three main Hokkaido winter activities would have to be smelt fishing, snowmobiling and dog sledding. Smelt fishing is hugely popular with visitors from outside Hokkaido. People want to stand on the ice, make a hole in it and enjoy eating tempura made with the fish they have caught. These are the kinds of people who participate. Did you know that Sapporo has the largest dedicated snowmobile course in Japan? After a 25 minute drive from Sapporo Station, you arrive at the foot of Mt. Bankei where you can enjoy zooming through the forest, making it increasingly popular with visitors from Asia. Recently, horse riding in the snow is also popular. You get on a horse, and with the help of a guide, crunch your way along the snow covered path. Riding a horse on the snow must be a refreshing experience which would surprise even experienced horse riders, and we get many repeat customers.”

Sapporo is the gateway to experience activities in Hokkaido

If you really want an authentic experience of the nature of Hokkaido, we recommend that you go to Kushiro and Furano. So what are the main points when experiencing activities in Sapporo? Sapporo is a city of 1.9 million people with forests and mountains nearby, so with just a one-hour drive you can easily get a taste of the nature of Hokkaido.

“I would like people living in Sapporo to not just introduce friends from outside Hokkaido to the gourmet food, hot springs and nature spots when they visit Sapporo, but also to introduce them to the various activities. In summer, aerial sports, rafting and visiting farms are also rewarding experiences. With the emergence of low-cost carriers, it has become possible to visit Hokkaido from the Kanto and Kansai regions easily. It is even possible to visit Sapporo, just for the day, to have a play in the snow. I recommend that you first come along to Sapporo to experience winter in snowy Hokkaido, and then, if you get the urge to pursue some activities in earnest, pay a visit to some of the various towns in Hokkaido”.

Experience activities as a means of achieving objectives

“Recently, there has been an increase in the number of people experiencing activities as a means of achieving certain objectives, such as getting in a canoe to take photos of spectacular views and walking in the forest with snowshoes to see frozen trees in a cave. Activities where, in search of delicious food, you visit a farm to experience the harvest and can cook and eat freshly picked vegetables there and then are also popular. If you have a clear purpose, then this should determine the right activity for you to participate in”.

In Sapporo in winter, activities are sometimes canceled due to adverse weather conditions such as blizzards. “On days like that, you can experience the slow passing of time in Sapporo in winter, by just staying in your place of accommodation and watching the snow falling or relaxing in a hot spring,” says Mr. Hayashi. If you visit Hokkaido in the winter, as well as skiing and snowboarding, why not try the rich variety of activities and explore around in the natural environment?

Naoki Hayashi

Editor-in-chief of tourism site “Hokkaido”

Born in Sakura city, Chiba in 1967. After graduating from Nihon University College of Law in 1990, he joined human resources company Recruit Co., Ltd. He was involved in the HR business in the Tokyo metropolitan area, and moved to Hokkaido in 1997. After that, he was involved in projects to revitalize local communities and the HR business. In 2006, he took flexible retirement from Recruit Co., Ltd. In 2007 he founded Hokkaido Treasure Island Tour, Inc. and became Representative Director and Vice President of the company.