Hokkaido, Japan - The Traveller


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Friday, February 19, 2016

Hokkaido, Japan


Hokkaido – Second Largest/Northern/Least Developed Island of Japan

Hokkaido is the second largest, northernmost and also the least developed of the four main islands of Japan. Hokkaido means Northern Sea Circuit and was formerly known as Ezo, Yezo, Yeso or Yesso. The Tsugaru Strait separates Hokkaido from Honshu though the two islands are lined by the underwater railway called Seikan Tunnel.

 The Seikan Tunnel is the world’s longest rail tunnel which is the only land link that Hokkaido has to Japan’s main island of Honshu. The trains through the tunnel, ferries and airliners seems to be the only means of reaching Hokkaido and the only way to enter Hokkaido by car is to ship it across one of the various car ferries. The train network of Hokkaido is said to be limited though it is more than sufficient for travel between the main cities.

Access, however to several of the interesting places like Hokkaido’s various national parks would require either depending on infrequent and expensive buses, renting your own car or trying luck at hitchhiking.Its capitalSapporo is the largest city of Hokkaido which is also the only ordinance designated city. The weather is harsh in winter with plenty of snowfall below zero temperature and frozen seas.

Extensive Vistas/Untouched Wilderness

The summer is not as hot and humid as in the other areas of the country. With its unchanged nature, Hokkaido tends to draw several outdoor lovers comprising of skiers and snowboarders in the colder seasons as well as hikers, campers and cyclist during June to September.

Hokkaido is frequently considered to be the country’s last frontier by the Japanese and unlike Japan’s other islands, is a place of extensive vistas and untouched wilderness. Being the second largest island of Japan, less than 5% of its population tend to live there inclusive of most of the country’s lasting native inhabitants, the Ainu. Hokkaido provides an appealing range of riches which establishes a rarely seen side of Japan for foreign as well as Japanese tourists.

 Moreover, it also offers a seductive variety of onsen or hot spring baths with facilities of lavish luxurious modern resorts as well as simple hot spring pools deep in the mountains. Hokkaido continues to represent the natural wilderness together with several great national parks.

Ever Present Hot Spring

For most of the tourists, the scenery looks like northern Europe with rice paddies together with concrete burrows that is characteristic of the rest of Japan replaced by rolling field as well as faux-German cottages. But the ever present hot-spring resorts in most of the island are a reminder that one is still in Japan.

Hokkaido is Japan’s largest region comprising of Japan’s total northern island together with its surrounding islets. It is cooler than the rest of Japan and the lack of Japan’s humid and rainy season tends to make it a popular national location between May and August. Some of the inland areas of Hokkaido have a continental climate with daily large and yearly temperature variation.

Most of Hokkaido had been settled by the Japanese during the last 100 years when compared to the thousands of years of Japanese history and pre-history. Prior to that it was inhabited only by the hunter gatherer Ainu culture owing to which its architecture as well as the cities was much more modern and was based on western-like grid layouts.

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