Hokkaido and nature are practically synonymous—what with the island’s seemingly endless natural beauty to be found around every corner. It’s no wonder the area boasts so many outdoor activities for you to choose from. Read on to plan your own Hokkaido adventure!
In the skies
Furano, located in the heartland of Hokkaido, is a great place to start your exploration—and from here we’ll be taking to the skies for our first activity. For families and those who want to take time to admire their surroundings, there is the option of doing so in an anchored hot-air balloon for ¥2,500 for adults or ¥2,000 for children under 12 years of age, with the price going up for longer, less anchored flights. For more adventurous travelers, there is also the option to take off in a powered paraglider from Takikawa Sky Park. Rushing over the colorful fields or snow-covered mountain slopes for 30 minutes costs around ¥7,500.
Horseback trekking is probably the most well-known and highly recommended outdoor activity to at least try once during your trip to Japan’s far north. This 40-minute horseback trekking tour includes a quick lesson in Lake Toya for about ¥5,860. You can choose a 90-minute trek for ¥11,500.
There are many horse ranches across Hokkaido, each of which has their own trekking trial offering stunning views as you ride your horse off into the horizon. Ranches will generally provide you with some cowboy boots (yeehaw!), but do make sure to wear clothing you don’t mind getting a bit dirty. Ranches operate throughout the warmer months of the year, but some even offer unique tours during Hokkaido’s cold winter months, allowing you to witness its snowy landscape.
In a canoe
Apart from an abundance of forests and plains, Hokkaido is also home to many rivers. When the snow starts melting in April, they grow stronger and faster. Such a sight is alluring for any adventurer, making canoeing one of the most popular outdoor activities during the warmer months.
For those of you wanting to take a canoe through narrow creeks, leaping over boulders and splashing back down into the clear melt-water of Hokkaido, there are several options. You could try this family-friendly whitewater rafting tour on the Shiribetsu River, or opt for canoeing and trekking around Lake Shikotsu.
Tours usually take half a day, spanning several kilometers in distance and costing between ¥5,000 and ¥12,000, which is not too bad. This price includes a wetsuit, but most operators advise you to wear easy clothes that you do not mind getting wet since you still … get wet … in a wetsuit. A spare set of clothing and a towel are also highly advisable. With regards to safety, a life jacket, helmet and, just in case, insurance are provided by the operators.
Catching your own lunch
Hokkaido’s rivers are loved by fishermen, as even a first-timer can reel in a rewarding lunch for a day of exploring. Many rivers feature small campsites with a stone BBQ to catch and cook your fish on the spot! Try your hand at catching rainbow trout in the Tokaichi River, or use your bare hands while wading in the Niseko River.