Hokkaido

Hokkaido, the most northerly of Japan's main islands, is Japan's frontier country: far north and Wild West rolled into one. Sweeping, dramatic volcanic landscapes and cultural mix of indigenous Ainu and Japanese make Hokkaido a unique and spectacular destination.

Deep winter snows meet cattle ranches and pristine national parks in Hokkaido, where hikers can explore crater lakes and volcanic caldera, and bathe under steaming hot waterfalls. Wildlife abounds, and fox, brown bear, and deer sightings are common within the breath-taking Daisetsuzan, Shiretoko, and Akan national parks.

Adding to Hokkaido's allure is recently revitalizing culture of the indigenous Ainu people, long the sole inhabitants of the island. Ainu words pepper Hokkaido's landscape, and their traditional salmon based cuisine flavours modern Hokkaido dishes. Ainu culture can be experienced in a number of excellent museums throughout Hokkaido, and Into Japan Specialist Tours would be delighted to organise a visit to the ethnically Ainu town of Nebutani as part of your tailor made tour to Japan.

Hokkaido's northern seasons, degrees cooler than those in Honshu, mean the cherry blossoms, or sakura, bloom a full month later than in Tokyo or Kyoto, and the summers are pleasantly cool. Crisp, cold winters bring plenty of powder snow, and Hokkaido's mountains are home to some of the best ski resorts in the country. .