Spring in Hokkaido starts a little later than in the rest of Japan, while cherry blossoms are in full bloom in Tokyo and Kansai around early April when spring in Hokkaido is only just beginning. The Hokkaido cherry blossom season is usually in early May, a whole month later!
With the vast array of parks and national parks in Hokkaido, there are always opportunities to get outside and enjoy nature while living in Hokkaido.
Jigokudani “Hell Valley”
Hell Valley is a magical spot above Noboribetsu, the onsen town; it is home to some of Hokkaido’s most dramatic scenery. It’s a volcanic caldera and the largest heat source of the onsen. Jigokudani Hell Valley is not to be confused with the Jigokudani park in Nagano prefecture.
Jigokudani Hell Valley is a desolate area with vibrant rocks and gravel, it is one of the unique parks in Hokkaido. There are powerful jets of steam bursting from the hot springs and various spectacular walking trails through Jigokudani Park.
The Hell Valley itself looks a lot like another planet and nature is more volcanic rather than lush greenery, although there is plenty of greenery along the river and in the forest.
Oyunuma is a sulfurous pond in Hell Valley area, it’s around 50 degrees with steam rising from it. The water in the pond is around 50 degrees Celsius and it flows out in a river through the forest, which you can follow. Most people make sure to use the natural foot bath that the river provides
The Jigokudani Park is a five-minute walk from the Noboribetsu Onsen bus terminal.
無番地 Noboribetsuonsencho, Noboribetsu, Hokkaido 059-0551
Great news, there is no Jigokudani Hell Valley entrance fee, it’s completely free!
Shiretoko National Park
Shiretoko National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located on the eastern tip of Hokkaido, on the Shiretoko peninsula.
Hiking, dolphin watching, whale watching, and bear spotting are just a few of the things you can do at Shiretoko National Park. It is one of the best parks in Hokkaido with the best coastline views, multi-day hikes, and beautiful boat trips.
Wildlife and nature lovers, Shiretoko National Park is the one for you! The park is home to killer whales, brown bears, dolphins, sea eagles, and even spotted seals. As well as all the animals, the park is famous for the Shiretoko Five Lakes (Shiretoko Goko), located in an ancient forest on Mount Rausu.
The best time to visit is at the start of spring in Hokkaido, around April, up until November. Whether you are living in Hokkaido or just visiting, Shiretoko National Park is worth the trip!
Access to the national park is most convenient by car.
The end of the Shiretoko peninsula can only be reached via a multiple-day hike or it can be viewed on a boat trip. The park can be accessed through Utoro, an onsen town, through highway buses from Sapporo that runs during the summer months.
The closest train station is JR Shiretoko Shari Station, however, trains and bus connections can be infrequent.
Goryokaku Park (Fort Goryokaku)
Wondering where to see sakura in Hokkaido? This one is for you! Once it turns to spring in Hokkaido, Goryokaku Park transforms into a sea of pink flowers.
Goryokaku is located in Hakodate and it’s one of the beloved unique parks in Hokkaido due to the star-shaped moat outlining the park. If you are living in Hokkaido, you may know about its history. It was built as a fort to defend against the imperialist threat towards the end of the Edo Period.
It’s an impressive combination of nature and architecture. If you are considering where to see sakura in Hokkaido, or even in Japan, Goryokaku has plenty to offer, with over 5000 cherry blossom trees.
The Goryokaku Tower right next to the park offers a birds-eye view of the park, where you can really take in the unique shape of the park and see just how many cherry blossoms there are.
Goryokaku Park is a 30-minute bus ride from Hakodate.
44-2 Goryokakucho, Hakodate, Hokkaido 040-0001
Daisetsuzan National Park
If you are living in Hokkaido, you must visit Daisetsuzan National Park! Daisetsuzan is one of the most famous national parks in Japan for a good reason. It is home to the Daisetsuzan volcanic group, an impressive collection of active volcanoes and mountains, the tallest of which is Mount Asahi (Asahidake). Not only this, but it is also where you can find various other volcanic groups, such as the Tokachi and Shikaribetsu groups.
Mount Asahidake, the tallest peak, is a popular power spot, which means it is a place believed to possess special powers. The indigenous Ainu people called the area Kamui Mintara, which means ‘playground of Gods’. You can access the power spot right at the peak of the mountain. It is a short climb up from the top station of the Asahidake Ropeway.
Daisetsuzan National Park can be accessed from Asahikawa, Hokkaido’s second-largest city. Daisetsuzan is a 90-minute bus ride from Asahikawa Station to Asahidake Onsen.
Now that it is spring in Hokkaido, there’s no better time than the present to get outside and explore some of the beauty and nature that the land has to offer!
Living in Hokkaido means that there’s always access to some of the World’s most breath-taking nature! Be sure to check our website if you are interested in living in Hokkaido!