Traveling throughout the Hokkaido region in the spring is a great adventure. Sometimes spring season here is overshadowed by summer and winter. However, the region is packed with a lot of wonderful discoveries, and each season has its own special highlights to offer you.

Those of you who think that Hokkaido is not a perfect place to spend spring holidays, I want to change their minds. That’s my today’s challenge. I will not back down. I would make you fall in love with Hokkaido’s spring beauty.

If traveling is what you think as your passion, then before you die you have got to come here in Hokkaido, at least once. It is a unique destination, waiting you to blow your mind with its seasonal beauty and festival including its historical landmarks.

Sakura in Hokkaido. Photo Credit: satoshi sawada at Flickr.

I admit that in spring, except the Hokkaido region, rests of the regions of Japan are visited by a lot of foreign tourists. Usually, Kyoto, Tokyo, Fukushima, Okinawa, Yamanashi, Nara, Osaka, Yokohama, Kakunodate, Kamakura are the places they head to. These are without question popular and get crowded with lots of visitors when Hanami arrives.

Please note that due to geographical location, Hokkaido welcomes hanami a bit later than other parts of Japan. However, there is something hidden treasure you can find in Hokkaido than just viewing only beautiful sakura. I hope you would enjoy experiencing Hokkaido’s popular attractions that are wroth a visit in spring, so let’s get started.

1) Cherry Blossoms Viewing in Hokkaido

Path to the Hokkaido Shrine in the spring. Photo Credit: Kentaro Ohno at Flickr.

Officially spring season in Hokkaido begins in early March and ends in late May. It is similar to the rest of the part of Japan. Though, best time to view sakura in Hokkaido is from late April to early May.

If you come here in early-April, then you won’t see any sakura here. I would like to share two most popular spots for cherry blossom viewing, they are: Fort Goryokaku and Matsumae Castle Park.

Matsumae Castle and Sakura. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

A local from Hakodate (where Fort Goryokaku is located) once told me this “My spring season is not charming without viewing sakura of Fort Goryokaku, I am proud of this and it is my best hanami spot in Hokkaido.”

On the other hand, a friend of mine, who has been living in Matsumae for more than 11 years so far shared his opinion this way “Drinking sake under sakura trees in Matsume park area during hanami season is unique.”

I agree with him! According to my experience, it has more than 10 thousands of cherry trees around Matsumae Castle and its spacious park.

The last Cherry Blossom Viewing of Japan occurs at Seiryu-ji temple in late May in Nemuro city. Learn more here. This easternmost of city of Japan is proud of featuring this yearly spring wonder. Those who say there is nothing to do during spring in Hokkaido, should visit these three hanami spots this year.

Sapporo, the capital of Hokkaido is also features some amazing cherry blossom spots. You can find them all by reading this post. I have also a shared an itinerary that tells you how to enjoy 3 lovely days in the city.

2) Kamiyubetsu Tulip Park – A little Netherlands

Kamiyubetsu Tulip Park. Photo Credit: 湧別町役場.

Not so many foreign tourists are familiar with this beautiful tulip flower garden. Japanese have a mini desert called Tottori Sand Dunes. In terms of size, it is really a tiny desert, so don’t need to compare it with Sahara Desert.

In my eyes, Japan has everything so why not to have a tulip garden like Netherlands has! In fact, Nagasaki has a beautiful landmark, which reflects a real looking Dutch town. It is called Huis Ten Bosch.

Kamiyubetsu tulip matsuri is a month-long (Early May to Early June) tulip festival held in Yubetsu town, Hokkaido. On a sunny day, the tulip park looks absolutely stunning with a million colorful tulips of different varieties.

If one of your dreams is to visit Netherlands in the spring to see its breathtaking tulip fields, why don’t you just let go of your that dream for a day?! Yes you can do that!

Just enjoy Dutch tulip field atmosphere right here at Kamiyubetsu Tulip Park. You can take as many as photographs you want of the colorful tulips along with the windmills in the background.

If you bother walking in the park, then get in an Electric car, it would amuse you a lot while you just sit on your seat and gaze at the rainbow tulip fields. I hope you would not miss this natural wonder when you travel to Hokkaido.

3) The Shibazakura Festival in Takinoue

Moss phlox in Takinoue Park. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

You can experience a delightful day viewing tons of pink moss phloxes (Shibazakura) in Takinoue Park. This hilly park gets covered with countless pink moss phlox in spring from early May to early June.

Takinoue is famous for this stunning flower park where you can have an experience of a lifetime. There are several walking trails to those enjoy pink moss flower blossoms. In my opinion, if you are a nature fanatic, this is a precious gift that Hokkaido can present you.

Locals there celebrate the Shibazakura festival during the peak season of pink moss. I saw visitors were enjoying their lunch as I did the same with my friend. We bought foods from the foot stalls that took place there at time of the festival.

You can also enjoy various live stage performances, which could entertain you to make your trip even unforgettable. I believe the Shibazakura festival is one of the most popular photogenic spots in Hokkaido.

Want to know more about this flora arena? Read my own travel experience to this site in detail here.

4) Scenic Road Trip to Biei and Furano

Want to drive your car along this road? Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Some hilly towns look awesome! This is my opinion that suits to Biei and Furano perfectly. These are hilly towns in the central Hokkaido with beautiful landscape around.

If you ever come to Hokkaido in spring, please don’t forget to witness encounter picturesque landscapes that they highlight.

To experience an enjoyable scenic road trip, you have to rent a car from Ashaikawa airport or Furano town. Drive your car through the areas of Patchwork Road and Panorama Road. You are advised to drive slowly as a result you could pleasantly enjoy the picture-perfect rural landscapes along the way.

Vast open green fields, flower gardens and trees with birds can be seen on the way to Furano town. Visit these places to see spring flowers: Zerubu Hill & Atom Hill, Hokusei Hill, Shikisai-no-Oka, Kanno Farm, and Flower Land Kamifurano and Farm Tomita.

The lands you will be seeing in Biei are private property. So it is advisable to you that don’t interrupt farmers as well as their property. Just enjoy the breathtaking views and ride.

5) Unkai Terrace (Sea of Clouds)

That’s simply incredible! Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

This is not a recommended place to go for those who can’t wake up early in the morning. I don’t want to interrupt your sweet morning sleep. As Unkai means sea of Clouds, you have got to wake very early morning to see clouds from a terrace.

Though, afternoon is recommended for viewing beautiful landscape up from the terrace. It is located at the top of the Tomamu Mountains which can be reached by Gondolas.

There are many clouds which even cover the summit of Hidaka Mountain. Viewing clouds is not the main highlight rather it offers you to have a practical Yoga class. Just imagine how effective and wonderful it would be to exercise your mind and body in a lovely early morning!

There is a café called Tenbu Café, located next to Unkai terrace. From there, you can order a cup of coffee and enjoy the morning session while sipping it.

Remember that, you are requested to pay in cash, as there is no credit card payment option. Every year, Unkai terrace opening period starts in mid May and closes its operation late October. So, plan accordingly and I suggest you to book a hotel room near Tomamu Ski Resort.

6) Spring Flowers at Farm Tomita

Farm Tomita – a flower paradise in Furano town. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Farm Tomita is a great place to see summer flowers like lavender and poppies. And the farm itself is divided into some areas and one of the areas is known as “Spring Field”.

Therefore, don’t just assume that Farm Tomita highlights only lavender. Though there is a little surprise for you, which is – I have seen lavender in the Greenhouse located inside Farm Tomita.

Obviously, if you plan to visit Farm Tomita in the spring you can view splendid lavender there, not outside in the field but inside the greenhouse.

After the end of harsh cold winter season, spring flower starts to bloom from late April. Flowers like tulips, chives, poppies, perennials are typical spring flower at Farm Tomita.

Every year, flower blooming season here begins in early May and ends in mid August. In fact, if you arrive here in mid-July you would see a lot lavender flowers.

7) Viewing Alpine Flowers on Rebun Island While Trekking

Rebun Island seen from Rishiri Island. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Rebun Island is a paradise for Alpine flowers. They start to bloom in early spring. If you are not familiar with it then read this book right away.

I did not know that there were about 300 kinds of alpine plants on the island until I was informed by an official of Rebun Island Tourist Association. Though, it is incredible to experience alpine flower at sea level!

They usually don’t grow up in such environment but they do on Rebun Island. That’s a miracle!

On the island, there are six footpaths for visitors through which you can start trekking and explore variety colors of alpine flowers.

To reach the island, first you have to arrive in Wakkanai city, then take a ferry (Heartland Ferry) to Rebun Island. Check out the time table here.

8) Asahiyama Zoo in Asahikawa

A polar bear at Asahiyama Zoo. Photo Credit: pelican at Wikimedia Commons.

I always recommend this incredible landmark to the one who asks me about “What are the best things to do in Hokkaido?” To be honest, I don’t know why, maybe it is because – everyone in Japan thinks that it is the best zoo in the country.

When traveling to Hokkaido, you should never miss this attraction, especially when you travel with kids. Indeed it’s one of the spring activities that the whole family of yours would love.

Located in Asahikawa city, it does not only feature the animals and birds that we typically find in Japanese wildlife, but also endangered species of animals such as polar bears, red pandas, cranes, big cats and etc.

According to Asahiyama Zoo, it has more than 800 animals of 150 species. Does not it sound great to you? My favorite animals of this zoo are penguin and seals. They are really cute!

I think it is always better and positive, if you visit this place first, and then rent a car to have drive to Biei and Furano area.

9) Visit Sapporo in the Spring

Tulips in Sapporo. Photo Credit: Hideyuki KAMON at Flickr.

Sapporo in the spring looks splendid! Do you know why? It is because the weather sounds good, there is no snowfall, and everything looks pretty wonderful. You won’t have to wear attire like you are supposed in the winter season.

As it is the capital city of Hokkaido, I believe everybody should pay a big attention to this city. It does not matter whether it is winter, spring, summer, or autumn. It is a city which can be explored all year round. Though, winter atmosphere in Sapporo is unforgettable with Sapporo Yuki Matsuri.

You can take a stroll in the Odori Park in spring (May) to see cherry blossoms, lilac, tulips and other variety of beautiful flowers there. The park has about 400 lilac trees and they look pretty stunning with their green leaves and light purple blossoms.

Every year, the city hosts a marvelous lilac festival, taking place in two separate locations: Odori Park and Kawashimo. You can be part of the festival that begins in mid May. Please learn more about the Sapporo Lilac Festival.

In addition, you can observe the city up from the Sapporo TV Tower and JR Tower. The similar kind of experience can be done from the summit of the Mt. Moiwa. This is where many visitors like to experience when they travel Sapporo.

Amazing night view of the entire Sapporo city can be observed from the observation deck, situated on the summit of the mountain. Mt. Moiwa Ropeway would take you there, so no worries at all! Nothing bad is going to be happened, just open your eyes and enjoy the scenery.

Sapporo has many restaurants and bars. Most of them serve delicious Hokkaido’s local foods. Eat Hokkaido’s freshest sushi, ramen, yakitori, soup curry and jingisukan.

I don’t shop a lot, though if you like it, then Sapporo’s shopping centers will leave you breathless. You can pay a visit to Sapporo ESTA, Daimaru, and JR Tower Sapporo Stellar Palace, these are the shopping areas in the city where locals always head to. Shops there offer brand new style of summer clothes. You can buy them at a cheap price.

You will be impressed exploring the historic landmarks such as Former Hokkaido Government Office Building, The Historical Village of Hokkaido, and Moerenuma Park.

10) Lake Toya and Toyako Onsen

Lake Toya – a truly amazing place to spend a day trip from Sapporo. Photo Credit: 663highland at Wikimedia Commons

Part of the Shikotsu-Toya National Park, Lake Toya is one of the most beautiful caldera lakes in Japan. This wonderful attraction in Hokkaido is a must-see place for many tourists.

Toyako Onsen is located at the foot of Mount Usu along the shore of Lake Toya. This hot spring resort town features numerous hot spring baths including different viewpoints to enjoy the scenic beauty of lake toya.

Looking for ideas on what to do while you are there?

Many people go on a hike through the designated walking trails around the town. Besides, visitors pay a visit to Mount Usu. To ascend the mountain, they take the Usuzan Ropeway to get to the upper station’s observation deck, from where they wow panoramic views of lake toya. Views of Mt. Yotei is particularly impressive!

One of the exciting things to do here is to go for a hilarious lake cruise tour. This will give you amazing views of the lake, as well as the hot spring town including the surrounding mountains.

You can stay at this hotel in Toyako Onsen as it has Japanese style rooms, and hot springs. Impressive Lake Toya view from the room is also a great feature of this hotel.

In conclusion, it is clear that spring season in Hokkaido brings us so many things to experience and discover. Are not you interested in exploring all of these attractions? Thanks for reading.