Made up of a jigsaw of wildlife-packed national parks, mountainous landscapes, and crystal clear lakes it’s not hard to see why the eastern part of Hokkaido is known as a nature lover’s paradise. While not one of the most accessible parts of Japan to visit, the rural countryside of Eastern Hokkaido offers myriad adventures off the beaten track which make it a region well worth the trek.
Hokkaido, in the very north of Japan, is an island loved by many for its endless natural landscapes that stretch across the 500+ kilometers of mountainous land. While the prefecture’s capital, Sapporo, attracts most of the island’s visitors, the eastern side of Hokkaido is home to a whole host of breathtaking views and outdoorsy activities that no adventurer should miss. The region is made up of a number of national parks as well as the cities of Obihiro, Abashiri, Kushiro, and Nemuro each of which has its own unique reasons for visiting.
The many national parks of Eastern Hokkaido include UNESCO World Heritage site Shiretoko National Park, as well as Akan National Park, Daisetsuzan National Park, and Kushiro Shitsugen National Park. These wide expanses of diverse countryside promise some of the country’s most impressive landscapes including mountains, lakes, and forests which also act as home to an array of wild animals. From Japanese cranes and sea life to deer and brown bears, the national parks’ wide expanses of untouched nature invite some of the country’s most fascinating wildlife to live among its woodland and waters.
Facing onto the Okhotsk Sea, the ocean off Eastern Hokkaido fills up with impressive ice floes during the winter months due to frozen fresh water flowing into the sea from the Amur River. This fascinating naturally occurring phenomenon can be seen on a boat trip out to sea from the east coast, on a drift-ice walking excursion, or even by visiting the Okhotsk Ryuhyo Museum in Abashiri which is open all year round.
With its cooler summers and chilly winters, the east of Hokkaido, much like the rest of the island, is a perfect escape from the hot and humid Japanese summer while it still benefits from an array of spring cherry blossom and colorful autumn leaves before it transforms into a winter wonderland full of natural hot springs and snowy scenery.