Enjoy Hokkaido sightseeing with all one’s senses by bicycle from Sapporo Cycling tour guide Mr. Yuya Ishizuka

In the United States, Europe and Taiwan, “bike trips”, where you travel around by bicycle, are becoming popular, and in the last few years, the number of cyclists visiting Hokkaido has been rising. The fact that, compared to traveling by train or by car, it allows you to experience the charm of Hokkaido with all one’s senses is highly rated. We asked Sapporo based Mr. Yuya Ishizuka, who works as a cycling tour guide all over Hokkaido, about the charm of Sapporo and sightseeing of Hokkaido that can only be experienced by bicycle.

The clean surfaced roads of Hokkaido are ideal for cycling.

The number of people who want to travel around Hokkaido by bicycle is apparently doubling each year. Particularly, many cyclists are visiting Hokkaido from Taiwan, where bicycle tourism is being promoted all over the country.

“For the Taiwanese, Hokkaido is a place with nice scenery to rival that of North America and Scandinavia. There are even some advanced cyclists who take on the challenge of a nine-night, ten-day Hokkaido long-ride tour. Overseas, many roads with low-traffic tend to be gravel roads, but in Hokkaido, even farm roads are well surfaced, which is a surprise unique to Japan. When riding a bicycle, it is best to have an environment with few cars and traffic lights. In addition, in Hokkaido, after you have been riding and gotten some exercise, you can enjoy delicious food and a dip in a hot spring.”

How to enjoy cycling with the changing of the seasons. Ride through the snow in winter.

“The true joy of cycling is the fact that you can go sightseeing like you would if your were walking, but you can cover a much wider range,” says Mr. Ishizuka. Another part of its charm is being able to enjoy the fragrances of the various trees and flowers of each season. One-day courses to Tobetsu and Atsuta, on the outskirts of Sapporo, are popular with beginner and intermediate cyclists. Along the approximately 80km route, there are many spots for photo opportunities, including the land and sea horizons and hills, said to be the three magnificent views of Hokkaido.

“Since becoming a guide, the tourists have taught me how moving the sight of the horizon can be. As a resident of Hokkaido, it is a scene I see every day, so at first I could not understand its attraction. Certainly, if you live in Tokyo, it is hard to encounter a view where “the earth looks round”. Hokkaido’s cool and dry summer is the perfect climate for riding a bicycle. In autumn, from the cycling road which runs alongside the Chitose River, you can see salmon swimming upstream, and in winter, you can enjoy biking on the snow with spiked tires. They say that in winter you cannot ride a bicycle because of the snowfall, but in fact, in Hokkaido it is possible to enjoy cycling all year round.”

Making full use of Hokkaido’s terrain, to make it an advanced area for cycling culture

“From 2014, we start guided sightseeing of the city center using Sapporo’s ‘Porocle’ community bicycles. We are considering a two-hour course, going around the clock towerTV tower and the red-brick former Hokkaido Government Office building, known as Sapporo’s three major sightseeing spots; the traditional marketplace Nijo Market; and Nakajima Park and Toyohira River, where you can come into contact with the natural environment. I am also working as a driver of a “VeloTaxi”, the cycle taxis which run around the city center. As I am going around, through interacting with tourists from all over the world and all over Japan, as well as local customers, I am learning all of Sapporo’s good points.”

Mr. Ishizuka also participates in races once a month as a road racer, as a member of a the Kansai corporate team. His goal is to build a professional team in Hokkaido five years from now. This is because he is convinced that if the natural beauty of Sapporo and Hokkaido can be made full use of, it will become an advanced area for cycling culture.

Those of you sightseeing Sapporo for the first time, why not go for a carefree stroll around town with a tour guide in the city? If you have visited Sapporo several times before, please experience going cycling on a course around the outskirts of the city with Mr. Ishizuka. You will surely find your new favorite place.


Yuya Ishizuka

Cycling tour guide

Born in Muroran City, Hokkaido, in 1978. He moved to Sapporo City when he was in elementary school, and, as a junior high school student, he traveled all the way around Hokkaido by bicycle. He started competing in cycling when he was in high school. His joined a corporate team as a first-year graduate student by entering the top corporate team “Kinan Maruishi (now MUUR・ZERO). In 2009 he founded Cycling Frontier Hokkaido. The company offers truly innovative tours, renting full-fledged road bikes and providing guidance on routes with superb views of Hokkaido.