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5-Day Hokkaido Road Trip Itinerary for Spectacular Sights in Spring!

5-Day Hokkaido Road Trip Itinerary for Spectacular Sights in Spring!

Date published: 20 April 2021

Many tend to associate Hokkaido with the snowy sights of winter due to its northern location, but spring in the region is not to be missed as well! This is the period when Hokkaido's natural world starts coming back to life after a long slumber, filling the place up with colorful flowers and exuberant green foliage.

One of the best and most effective ways to enjoy all the sights on display during this period is to go on a road trip! This is because, in recent years, expressways have sprung up across the expansive prefecture, connecting formerly far-flung towns and cities together and facilitating convenient travel between them.

The abundance of rental car outlets located near New Chitose Airport is further proof that this is indeed the best way to travel around Hokkaido!

Take a look at this sample 5-day road trip itinerary recommended by a local writer, and see if it'll help make your Hokkaido trip in spring something completely fresh and exciting to experience!

Day 1 / 10:30 a.m.: Rent a car near New Chitose Airport, then head for Otaru

Day 1 / 10:30 a.m.: Rent a car near New Chitose Airport, then head for Otaru

The first thing to do upon landing at New Chitose Airport is to head to one of the many rental car shops nearby and make arrangements to rent a car for the entirety of your trip.

Once that's done, drive to Otaru to enjoy the scenic sight of sakura in full bloom. The Dō-Ō area, which Otaru is a part of, is about an hour and 20 minutes away from New Chitose Airport by car.

As you approach the coast leading towards Otaru, the beautiful sight of the Sea of Japan right will suddenly unfold before your very eyes. As mesmerizing as this can be, remember to keep your eyes on the road!

Noon: Swing by Otaru City Tourist Information Plaza in search of more information

Noon: Swing by Otaru City Tourist Information Plaza in search of more information
まずは情報収集

Otaru City Tourist Information Plaza (Canal Plaza) is ideally situated at the Otaru Canal intersection in a renovated olden warehouse and is easy to identify.

Inside, you'll find an International Information Center with staff that can speak English, Mandarin, or Korean and are trained to provide all sorts of useful tips and advice about places and activities to explore in Otaru.

Make full use of the services provided here and drop by to gather more information before starting your city tour!

12:30 p.m.: Seasonal Hokkaido spring mantis shrimps at Otaru Sushi Restaurant Street

12:30 p.m.: Seasonal Hokkaido spring mantis shrimps at Otaru Sushi Restaurant Street
You won't forget the incredible taste of these roe-filled mantis shrimps once you've had one

The Otaru fishing ground is a priceless treasure trove of delicious seafood. Just a short 200 meters (about 656 feet) away from the scenic Otaru Canal is an area known as Otaru Sushi Restaurant Street, where five well-established sushi restaurants have set up shop to provide visitors to Otaru with easy access to the freshest seafood in town.

While you're here, you absolutely have to try the Hokkaido-caught shako, or mantis shrimps sold in any of these restaurants. Like prawns and crabs, mantis shrimps are crustaceans and are often used as sushi ingredients. Open season on mantis shrimps in Hokkaido is between late April to late June.

Because it's springtime during this period, the mantis shrimps caught are often filled with roes. This gives the cooked shrimps a unique taste and crunchy texture that can't be enjoyed at any other time of the year! This is one of the must-try local specialties of Otaru during spring.

  • Otaru Sushi Restaurant Street
    小樽寿司屋通り
    • Address 1-1-9 Hanazono, Otaru-shi, Hokkaido 〒047-0024

2:00 p.m.: Flower admiration at the picturesque Temiya Park

2:00 p.m.: Flower admiration at the picturesque Temiya Park
One of the best sakura spots of Otaru

Drive towards Shukutsu from Otaru Canal and you'll see a signboard directing you to Temiya Park, where about 690 sakura trees, including the delicate Somei-Yoshino species, await your admiration.

The park is situated on elevated ground and overlooks the Sea of Japan, and the contrast between the sakura's pastel pink and the deep navy blue of the sea is a captivating sight that draws many to it every spring. On your visit, you may even encounter an artist or two set up with their easels, trying to capture this beautiful scene on canvas! Temiya Park is a great way to spend a leisurely and relaxing afternoon surrounded by the peaceful sights and sounds of nature.

3:30 p.m.: Stroll along Otaru's most iconic tourist hotspot, Otaru Canal

3:30 p.m.: Stroll along Otaru's most iconic tourist hotspot, Otaru Canal
You haven't been to Otaru until you've visited Otaru Canal!

Otaru Port was the gateway to Hokkaido in the early days when the land was still under development, and Otaru Canal was completed in 1923 to increase the berthing clearance distance for vessels docking here.

While it has since been retired from this particular duty, the canal continues to serve the city of Otaru in a different capacity these days - that of a major tourist attraction, along with 63 vintage roadside gas lamps lined up against the entire stretch, as well as stone warehouses on the opposite side that have been preserved in their original forms.

Taking a stroll down the paved roads here can feel a little bit like you've traveled back in time to the canal's heydays.

After exploring Otaru City, it's time to head to Sapporo City to turn in for the night, so that you can get ready for the next day.

To bask in the city's lively energy, book a hotel in the downtown area of Susukino, or if you prefer a slower pace, choose something that's a little farther away from the city centre. Can't decide? Maybe our pick might be just what you're looking for!

10:00 p.m.: Check into the hostel-like Choine Hotel on the outskirts of Sapporo City

10:00 p.m.: Check into the hostel-like Choine Hotel on the outskirts of Sapporo City
A cozy place with homely accommodations (Photo credit: Choine Hotel)

Choine Hotel is located on the outskirts of Sapporo City in Teine Ward. Cozy little bed spaces are carved out in a large shared room with black-out curtains as separators, giving guests a basic level of privacy despite the hostel-like environment.

Although the hotel does not serve food itself, there are plenty of restaurants and eateries nearby, and guests are welcome to use the shared kitchens to make their own meals as well.

Guests are free to use the cookware and utensils available

Parking is free at the hotel, which is strategically located near the very convenient Dō-Ō Expressway Teine Interchange. You can also choose to book a bed just for morning naps (6:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.) or afternoon naps (12 noon – 4:00 p.m.), even if you don't intend to stay overnight here. Note that staff here will communicate with foreign language-speaking guests using a Pocketalk interpreter device.

Also, as part of the hotel's countermeasures against Covid-19, the facilities are regularly and thoroughly disinfected, and all guests are required to put on face masks.

  • Choine Hotel
    ちょい寝ホテル
    • Address 3-7-58 Tomioka, Teine-ku, Sapporo-shi, Hokkaido 006-0013
    • Phone Number 011-688-8707
    • Check-in: 6:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m.
      Admission: 3,278 yen onwards per night / 1,000 yen per morning nap or afternoon nap session
      Closed: Open daily

    Vacancy search, reservation

    • Please enquire directly about rates.

    Check with our partner site as the latest rates, rate details, and guest room requirements may vary.

Day 2 / 9:00 a.m.: Asahikawa in spring!

After checking out of your hotel, get back onto the Dō-Ō Expressway and drive towards Asahikawa City. As you catch glimpses of splotches of unmelted snow still clinging onto the peaks of the mountain range you'll pass by on the way there, it will slowly start sinking in that it is indeed spring in Hokkaido now!

11:00 a.m.: Appreciate the preciousness of life with a visit to Asahiyama Zoo

11:00 a.m.: Appreciate the preciousness of life with a visit to Asahiyama Zoo
Visitors are greeted by a bevy of lively animals with amusing antics

It takes about two hours of driving on the expressway to get to Asahiyama Zoo from Sapporo. Mini fun fact: This is the northernmost zoo in Japan! Much effort has gone into presenting the animals here in ways that will show off their natural activities.

As such, visitors will be able to observe how penguins swim underwater in their tanks, or how wild beasts tear into their meat during mealtime. No wonder the zoo is so popular among local and foreign visitors alike!

Family groups can also have fun together here with the children-friendly Kids' Farm petting area, where everyone is encouraged to come in contact with domestic animals like rabbits and guinea pigs and familiarize themselves with their touch and smells.

  • Asahiyama Zoo
    旭山動物園
    • Address Kuranuma, Higashiasahikawa-cho, Asahikawa-shi 078-8205
    • Phone Number 0166-36-1104
    • Hours: 9:30 a.m. – 5:15 p.m. (Thursday, April 29 – Friday, October 15, 2021), last entry 4:00 p.m.
      Admission: Adults 1,000 yen; Minors (16 and below) Free
      Closed: April 8 – April 28, 2021

4:00 p.m.: Shirogane Blue Pond, the product of miraculous coincidences

4:00 p.m.: Shirogane Blue Pond, the product of miraculous coincidences
4:00 p.m.: Shirogane Blue Pond, the product of miraculous coincidences

Hop back into the car after your romp at Asahiyama Zoo and drive for about 40 minutes to Shirogane Blue Pond, an interesting product of the marriage of man-made events and natural activity.

The pond was created when the dam made during disaster prevention work in Tokachi started filling up with water that contained fine white-colored particles, giving the pond its stark blue appearance.

The pond is surrounded by Tokachi's magnificent natural world, and the withered Japanese larch tree trunks looming silently over the water surface gives this scenic site a fantastical, otherworldly vibe.

5:20 p.m.: Simulated winter experience atop Mount Tokachi, where spring has yet to touch

5:20 p.m.: Simulated winter experience atop Mount Tokachi, where spring has yet to touch
Spring comes a little later for Mount Tokachi's snow-covered slopes! (Photo credit: Biei Tourism Association)

Finished taking all the amazing pictures you can of Shirogane Blue Pond? Then it's time to drive for about 45 minutes to the next stop: Tokachidake Onsen.

Although spring greens and blooming flowers should have taken over most of the low-lying lands by now, the area near Tokachidake Onsen Village, located 1,280 meters (about 4,200 feet) above sea level, is still covered with pockets of snow here and there, allowing you to experience a simulated winter experience in spring.

Note that this also means parts of the roads leading up the mountain may still be frozen, so ensure that your car is equipped with winter tires before driving up!

  • Togachitake Onsen Village
    十勝岳温泉郷
    • Address Suitoe, Kami furano-cho, S44-gun, Hokkaido 071-0579
    • Phone: 0167-45-3150 (Kamifurano Tokachidake Tourism Association)
      Hours: 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
      Hours: Mid-May – Mid-October

6:30 p.m.: Check into B&B Plus+ Shooting Star Hotel, which overlooks the Tokachidake Mountain Range and an idyllic countryside scene

6:30 p.m.: Check into B&B Plus+ Shooting Star Hotel, which overlooks the Tokachidake Mountain Range and an idyllic countryside scene
A king room with a swing. No two rooms are the same in this hotel!

After having your fill of pseudo-Hokkaido winter, drive carefully down the mountains and head towards B&B plus+ Shooting Star via regular roads. This should take about 40 minutes.

This hotel is being run by a Japanese and Singaporean couple, whose goal is to, in their own words, "Let us color your life!"

To live up to this mantra, the hotel has a few unique activities that visitors can sign up for, such as a yoga retreat, and Singaporean home cuisine is also available for those with adventurous taste buds!

The amazing view of Tokachidake Mountain Range from the living area is one of the hotel's main allures

The three guestrooms in this hotel are brimming with the owner couple's excellent sense of design and hospitality. Looking out from within the building gives you either a view of the Tokachidake Mountain Range or the area's peaceful and idyllic surroundings. What a great way to relax in luxury!

Overcrowding is quite unlikely in this small hotel, but the facilities are thoroughly and regularly disinfected as part of their countermeasures against Covid-19.

The owner and his wife both speak English and are great conversation partners to talk about your trip with!

Day 3/ 9:00 a.m.: Exploring Hokkaido's natural landscape from Furano to Tokachi

Day three is (mostly) nature day, because you'll be driving down a route in the Tokachi area that will take you through and beyond the dynamic views of Karakachi Pass from Furano to Obihiro.

Stay alert and keep an eye out for wild animals, though, like the yezo sika deer, as they may sometimes jump out onto the road as you're driving along!

9:20 a.m.: Souvenir shopping for all of Furano's best goods at Furano Marche

9:20 a.m.: Souvenir shopping for all of Furano's best goods at Furano Marche
One of Furano's must-visit souvenir stores

After bidding the owners of B&B plus+ Shooting Star farewell, drive for about 20 minutes to Furano Marche, a central mall where you can experience all the charms of Furano in one spot.

Building 1 contains plenty of Furano-made produce and specialty souvenirs, including snacks made from fresh food ingredients. Building 2 is chock-full of eateries and general stores selling local goods.

Restaurants regularly rotate the items on their menu, so each visit during a different season is bound to yield some pleasant and delicious surprises!

  • Furano Marche
    フラノマルシェ
    • Address 13-1 Saiwaicho, Furano City, Hokkaido 076-0024
    • Phone Number 0167-22-1001
    • Hours: 10:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. (6:00 p.m. during winter)
      Closed: November 15 – November 19; December 31, and January 1
      Furano Marche

Noon: Lunch at Garden Spa Tokachigawa Roadside Station, where the best tastes Tokachi has come together

Noon: Lunch at Garden Spa Tokachigawa Roadside Station, where the best tastes Tokachi has come together
With so much good food available, you'll be completely spoiled for choice (Photo credit: Tokachigawa Onsen Kanko Kyoukai)

After leaving Furano Marche, drive for about two hours on regular roads through the Tokachi area, enjoying the sights along the way until noon. For lunch, drop by Garden Spa Tokachigawa Roadside Station in Otofuke Town, where freshly baked Tokachi curry bread buns are being sold at the Yorimichi Bakery here.

This tasty morsel is made using dairy products made from raw milk produced in the Tokachi area. There's also Kokage Cafe and their aromatic soybean-based menu, Table Veggie and their generously cheese-laden pizzas (using Tokachi cheese, of course!), Karaage House and their simple but tasty fried chicken cooked with premium Nakasatsunai chicken meat, and many other restaurants serving food made with fresh local ingredients.

Tokachi is well-known as one of Japan's top agriculture and cheese production region, so your trip to the area would not be complete without at least trying a meal or two featuring these products!

  • Roadside Station Garden Spa Tokachigawa
    道の駅ガーデンスパ十勝川
    • Address 14-1 Tokachigawa Onsen Kita, Otofuke-cho, Kato-gun, Hokkaido 080-0262
    • Phone Number 0155-46-2447
    • Hours: 9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. (9:00 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays)
      Closed: Every second Tuesday of the month, every third Tuesday of the month in August, and every second and third Tuesday of the month from November to March

1:30 p.m.: Take a Tokachigawa Canoe Tour to get up-close-and-personal with nature

1:30 p.m.: Take a Tokachigawa Canoe Tour to get up-close-and-personal with nature
Enjoy nature at leisure (Photo credit: Tokachigawa Canoe Tour)

Once you've recharged yourself at Roadside Station Garden Spa Tokachigawa, hop over to the Tokachi Nature Center just next door and sign up for their Tokachigawa Canoe Tour, a 2.5-hour canoeing activity.

This will put you on a two-person canoe through a 6-kilometer (3.7-mile) stretch of the massive Tokachigawa river's midstream section, where you can taste the pure air of nature and listen to the song of wild birds at the same time.

Midway through the activity, participants will take a tea break on the river sandbank while being surrounded by the area's natural landscape, and time will pass so quickly, the canoe tour is over before you realize it.

If you happen to be there at the right time, you may even encounter some white-tailed eagles or red-crowned cranes. This tour is conducted by an experienced outdoor guide who will show you the best and safest way to enjoy the great outdoors on a canoe.

  • Tokachi River Canoe Tour
    十勝川カヌーツアー
    • Address 12-1-12 Minami Tokachigawa Onsen, Otosara-Town, Kato-gun, Hokkaido 080-0263
    • Phone Number 0155-32-6116
    • Event period: April 29 – November 30, 2021
      Admission: Adults 7,700 yen (16 and above)

4:00 p.m.: Check into Tokachigawa Onsen and dip into their famous beauty hot springs

4:00 p.m.: Check into Tokachigawa Onsen and dip into their famous beauty hot springs
The best hot spring village in the Tokachi area (Photo credit: Tokachigawa Onsen Kanko Kyoukai)

After all that vigorous paddling, you're likely keen to warm yourself up before dinner. Rejoice! For Tokachigawa Onsen is located right next to Tokachi Nature Center, and the hot spring resort is famous for its unusual moor baths that contain both plant essence and rock minerals.

The spring water is thus like a natural lotion that helps to lock in moisture and leaves your skin feeling smooth and supple, earning it the moniker of Beauty Bath.

The village also has lodgings for all budgets, from luxury inns to value hotels, so pick one that your budget can accommodate! Check into your lodgings early so that you can spend the rest of the day soaking up as much hot spring goodness as you can.

  • Sanyoan
    • Address Tokachigawa Onsen Minami 13, Otofuke, Hokkaido, 080-0263
      View Map
    • Nearest Station Satsunai Station (Nemuro Main Line)

    Vacancy search, reservation

    Check with our partner site as the latest rates, rate details, and guest room requirements may vary.

Day 4 / Onwards to Cape Erimo in the Hidaka area!

It's time to leave Tokachi behind and set off for Hidaka. Take the Japan National Route 336 expressway that stretches for 33.5 kilometers (about 20.8 miles) from Hiroo Town to the Erimo Town's Shoya district.

Much time and money went into the construction of this highway that is now known as The Golden Road because of the scenic view along the coastline of the North Pacific Ocean that drivers and passengers get to enjoy as they make their way to their next destination.

10:00 a.m.: The perfectly picturesque garden known as Rokka Forest

10:00 a.m.: The perfectly picturesque garden known as Rokka Forest
Presenting the Rokkatei perspective to the world (Photo credit: Rokkatei Confectionery)

After departing from Tokachigawa Onsen, drive for about 50 minutes to reach Rokka Forest, a landscaping project by Rokkatei, one of Hokkaido's most iconic confectionery companies.

You may be wondering what confectionery has to do with planting a garden. The concept behind Rokka Forest is to bring to life the flowering plants often depicted on the company's candy wrappers in the form of a living, breathing field of flowers.

The result is a large garden covering an area of 100,000 square meters (about 1 million square feet) that is filled with beautiful blossoms such as clustered gentians, beach roses, trillium camschatcense, Asian fawnlilies, and marsh marigolds.

A few relocated traditional Croatian folk houses serving as galleries can also be found on garden grounds. With so much to see and do, there's never a dull moment for visitors here!

1:00 p.m.: Bite into some rare shorthorn beef at Farm Restaurant Maburitto

1:00 p.m.: Bite into some rare shorthorn beef at Farm Restaurant Maburitto
Who can resist delicious lean meat? (Photo credit: Takahashi Dairy Farm)

As you drive farther away from Tokachi and get closer to Hidaka, you'll reach Erimo town in about two hours, and your first stop here should be for lunch at Farm Restaurant Maburitto, located atop a small hill.

The restaurant is operated by Takahashi Dairy Farm and serves beef that comes from the rare Japanese shorthorn being raised on the farm, which results in reasonably-priced favorites like beef rice bowls and Hamburg steaks. There's even a grilled meat bar space as well!

This is the perfect place for a road trip lunch. The Erimo shorthorn cattle are raised on spacious pastures that thrive because of the minerals carried by the sea breeze sweeping over this part of the land, allowing the grass to survive even the harsh Hokkaido winters.

This produces lean meat rich with glutamic acid and savory umami. The more you chew on the meat, the more its fragrant taste spreads throughout your mouth, so take your time to enjoy your satisfying meal!

Guestrooms with a homely touch (Photo credit: Takahashi Dairy Farm)

In order to really help visitors to fully appreciate the allure of Erimo's shorthorn cattle as well as its natural environment, the farm offers lodgings in the form of a Farm Inn (per night including two meals: Adults 8,800 yen; Minors (12 and under) 7,700 yen), an isolated building located on the farm itself that is surrounded by pastures on all sides and grazing Japanese shorthorn cattle.

The region's gentle sea breeze brings cool comfort during the day, and skies are filled with clearly visible twinkling stars at night! Staying here allows you to experience a lifestyle that's completely different from modern city life, adding a different sort of depth and flavor to your Hokkaido trip.

  • Farm Restaurant Maburitto
    ファームレストラン守人
    • Address 406-1 Erimomisaki, Erimo-Town, Horoizumi-gun, Hokkaido 058-0342
    • Phone Number 01466-3-1129
    • Hours: Farm Inn 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
      Closed: Sundays and Mondays (from April 2021)

2:30 p.m.: Experience Cape Erimo's mighty gales

2:30 p.m.: Experience Cape Erimo's mighty gales
Strong winds are the hallmark of a Cape Erimo outing (Photo credit: Erimo Town Hall)

About a 5-minute walk from Farm Restaurant Maburitto is your next destination for today: Cape Erimo, one of the places in Japan with the strongest winds! Speeds can reach up to 10 meters per second (about 22 miles per hour) for more than 260 days a year.

Not sure how that translates to real-life? Get a simulated experience of the strength of the winds at Kaze no Yakata, a building located on the cape itself, and you may be astonished by what you find out!

Harbor seal with pup (Photo credit: Erimo Town Hall)

Some 600 seals reside on the shores of the cape, and every March to April is birthing season for them. Which means if you're visiting between mid-April to June, you'll be able to use the telescope in the observatory deck to catch a rare glimpse of some adorable little baby seal pups swimming alongside their parents.

  • Cape Erimo
    • Address Erimomisaki, Erimo-cho, Horoizumi-gun, Hokkaido, 058-0342
      View Map
    • Nearest Station Samani Station (Hidaka Main Line)
      60 minutes by bus
    • Phone Number 01466-2-4626
Seasonal Hidaka sea urchins in spring

Springtime is also fishing season for the Hidaka area, so this is the period when you'll see a lot of tasty sea urchins that have been raised on nutritious seaweed feed, such as Hidaka kombu being sold on the market.

The unique aroma of this marine delicacy fills your senses as you bite into its sweet and succulent meat. Fresh sea urchin is only available between early April to May and will be offered by most sushi restaurants and eateries in Erimo Town, Samani Town, Urakawa Town, and Shinhidaka Town.

The shopfronts will have brightly colored banners advertising their shipment of haru uni, or spring sea urchin, so they'll be very hard to miss! Don't miss out on this rare chance to savor a time-limited Hokkaido delicacy while you're in town!

6:00 p.m.: End the last night of your trip in opulence at Natural Resort Hygeia

6:00 p.m.: End the last night of your trip in opulence at Natural Resort Hygeia
Relaxing in sweet serenity

To round off your last night in Hokkaido, check into the rustic and relaxing Natural Resort Hygeia that's about a 1.5-hour drive from Cape Erimo.

The hotel is aptly named after Hygeia, the Greek goddess of beauty and health, for its soothing atmosphere, because this is a place where you'll be able to experience the healing benefits of nature, from the comforting breeze coming from Hidaka Mountains to the relaxing murmurs of a nearby brook, the aromatic fragrance of seasonal flowers, and much more.

Local organic produce and fresh seasonal ingredients are generously used by the hotel's head chef to prepare meals that taste every bit as good as they look. Each dish is a memorable experience in itself!

After dinner, take some time to go stargazing and be amazed by the star-filled sky outside, a sight that isn't always available in a well-lit city. The hotel regularly disinfects its facilities as part of its countermeasures against Covid-19.

Staff are also able to handle foreign languages, so feel free to communicate your requests to them even if you don't speak much Japanese!

Day 5 / Explore the Hidaka area, then back to New Chitose Airport

For the final day, drive back to New Chitose Airport from Hidaka while taking in the sights of the area's majestic flora and fauna thriving in spring. As sad as it is to have to say goodbye, remember that you now have many great memories to bring home with you from this fulfilling trip!

9:30 a.m.: Drive through the cheerfully pink Nijukken Road of Cherry Blossoms

9:30 a.m.: Drive through the cheerfully pink Nijukken Road of Cherry Blossoms
About 8 kilometers (about 5 miles) of road lined with sakura trees

Now that you're all well-rested and ready, depart from Natural Resort Hygeia and drive towards a popular sakura spot in Shizunai known as Nijukken Road Cherry Blossoms, so named because the roads are nijukken (about 36 meters or 118 feet) wide.

Every year between early May to mid-May, the more than 2,200 sakura trees lined up along this roughly 8-kilometer (or 5-mile) long road will greet drivers with sakura blossoms of all sorts of species, including north Japanese hill cherry, Prunus Leveilleana, and miyamazakura.

When the wind picks up and rustles through the branches in full bloom, petals come loose and flutter about the air in a spontaneous performance that plunges those seeing the sight into a fantastical world. This is one of the most memorable scenes of the trip that is likely to stay with you for a long time to come.

2:00 p.m.: Lake Utonai Sanctuary Nature Center

2:00 p.m.: Lake Utonai Sanctuary Nature Center
The brave little marsh tit will land very closely to you! (Photo credit: Lake Utonai Sanctuary Nature Center)

Continue heading towards New Chitose Airport, now with the image of the beautiful sakura-lined avenue imprinted onto your mind! After about 1.5 hours, take a little breather at Lake Utonai Roadside Station and enjoy a panoramic view of Lake Utonai, a bird sanctuary listed in the Ramsar Convention.

In total, at least 270 different species of resident and migratory wild birds can be spotted here, such as great spotted woodpeckers, marsh tits, and eastern crowned warblers.

Around the lake is a well-maintained nature trail that visitors can feel free to take walks in, and the Nature Center offers tours and experiences that will provide information about the natural environment here, as well as how it is being studied and conserved.

  • Lake Utonai Sanctuary Nature Center
    ウトナイ湖サンクチュアリネイチャーセンター
    • Address 150-3 Uenae, Tomakomai City, Hokkaido 059-1365
    • Phone Number 0144-58-2505
    • Hours: 9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
      Admission: Free
      Closed: Weekends and holidays

5:00 p.m.: Make full use of flight waiting time to check out attractions in New Chitose Airport itself!

5:00 p.m.: Make full use of flight waiting time to check out attractions in New Chitose Airport itself!
How about a dip in an airport hot spring as a nice, warm finale?

You don't want to be late for your flight home, so be sure to reach the airport with plenty of time to spare! It won't be for nothing, either, because the airport is full of shops with snacks, souvenirs, and local produce for you to peruse and purchase.

Even if you've already done all your shopping, you can still check out the activities available for visitors here, such as a theme park, movie theater, or even a hot spring! Who knows, you may even end up lamenting not arranging to come to the airport earlier.

In fact, many Hokkaido residents visit the airport regularly just to have some fun, even if they're not intending to take a flight anywhere.

Check out the collection of Hokkaido's most popular ramen in the airport's Hokkaido Ramen Dojo

Feed your growling stomach at Hokkaido Ramen Dojo, a ramen theme park in the airport featuring 10 ramen shops that each serve different styles of ramen from popular stores around Hokkaido.

Pick an item from any shop and it's bound to be delicious! This is a great place to relish your last taste of Hokkaido before finally making your way home.

Feel Hokkaido's vibrant energy in-person this spring!

As your flight takes off from the tarmac and you gaze out of the cabin window, the twinkling street lights of the streets below pull farther and farther away until the window becomes enshrouded in darkness, giving you pause to reflect on all the wonderful memories you've made during this trip to Hokkaido in spring, a season that marks the end of the region's relatively long winter and the start of revival, both in natural and human activities.

So if you haven't already gone on a road trip in Hokkaido during spring, consider turning this into a chapter in your book of travels today!

Text by: Masakazu
*Information in this article is accurate as of April 2021. For the latest information, check the official websites.

English translation by: Huimin Pan

*This information is from the time of this article's publication.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.

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