Itinerary Highlights

  • Explore a lesser-known island of Japan
  • Soak in in-room onsens
  • Dine on superlative local produce and seafood
  • Learn about the Indigenous Ainu culture
  • Take in panoramas from cable cars
  • Hike around picturesque marshes, mountains and lakes

Follow in Our Footsteps

Editor’s Itinerary

Hokkaido, Japan
Duration: 6 Days
For most Americans, especially those visiting Japan for the first time, the large and rural island of Hokkaido works best as a relaxing coda to a longer itinerary. It’s easy to add in. Nonstop flights connect Sapporo’s New Chitose Airport with several cities farther south, including Kyoto, Osaka and Hiroshima, as well as Tokyo. And from the capital, the bullet train takes about four hours to reach the southern Hokkaido city of Hakodate. In summer, Hokkaido offers scenic hiking and crater lake excursions. In autumn, the changing leaves put on a spectacular show rivaling that of New England. Winters offer superlative skiing and snowboarding — southwestern Hokkaido receives more snow than almost anywhere else in the world. And in spring, mountain meadows bloom with wildflowers. In all seasons, top-notch restaurants and sybaritic onsens (natural hot spring baths rich with minerals) delight visitors. The following itinerary can be undertaken in any season. And because the properties we recommend are all within two hours of the airport, it would also be possible (and rewarding) to fly into Sapporo, base yourself at just one hotel, and fly back out again.