Few months back, while everyone was busy planning a winter trip to Hokkaido, I wrote a post on Essential Travel Tips for Planning a Hokkaido Winter Trip. Now that year-end holidays have ended, it’s time to…. plan for the Summer holidays!
Since most of my readers are from Singapore and our school holidays are in June, this article will focus on places to visit in Hokkaido’s early Summer – that is late May to June. For a visit in the REAL Hokkaido Summer, which is July & August, it’s a different story altogether so let’s leave that for another time.
Late May – June is actually somewhat in between seasons in Hokkaido. You may consider it late Spring – too late for cherry blossoms. You may also consider it early Summer – too early for lavender. But neverthess, there is still plenty to see (and eat) at this time.
Hokkaido Places to Visit in Late May
Shibazakura & Tulips in Northern Hokkaido
If you are visiting in late May, like flying off the very night school’s out, I recommend you head up NORTH. This is the time for shibazakura and there are two famous spots in Hokkaido for them: Takinoue and Higashimokoto. Both of them are in Northern Hokkaido.
Also in the region is Kamiyubetsu Tulip Park which is located in between Takinoue and Higashimokoto.
If you are visiting at this time of the year, I recommend you rent a car and drive the route from Takinoue to Kamiyubetsu to Higashimokoto. The larger towns in the region are Abashiri and Kitami and you can find a hotel in these towns to base yourself.
If you have more time, I would recommend driving all the way up to Shiretoko. Shiretoko Five Lakes is gorgeous in summer.
Video Credit: goko.go.jp
In Summer, besides trekking around the five lakes, you can also join wildlife cruises to see brown bears and whales.
Hokkaido Places to Visit in Early-Mid June
Eat eat eat
By early June, the tulips in Kamiyubetsu are probably wilting, as are most of the shibazakura. During this period, I would just hang around the major cities like Sapporo, Otaru and Hakodate and eat eat eat.
In particular, Sakaimachi in Otaru has some of the best confectionery in Hokkaido (or imo the whole of Japan) lined up in a row.
And Hakodate, with its morning market, Snaffles cafe and Lucky Pierrot is a food galore!
If you are going to Hakodate in early June, you may want to plan a side-trip to Mount Esan where Azalea will be in bloom. The annual Esan Azalea Festival (Tsutsuji-matsuri Festival) is held from late may to early June.
Yasokoi Soran Festival
If you are planning to visit Hokkaido in early-mid June, take note of the dates for the Yasokoi Soran Festival and plan to be in Sapporo when it is happening. The dates fluctuate quite a bit from year to year, so you will need to visit the website each year to check the exact dates. Book your accommodation well in advance for this though. When I checked in January, my favourite Hotel Mercure Sapporo was already fully booked for the weekend of this year’s festival.
Video credit: YouTube ‘Tourism’
Hokkaido Places to Visit in Mid-Late June
By this time, the lavender around Furano will have grown quite a bit, though nothing as spectacular as what you see in travel guides where the photos are usually taken during the flowering peak in July / August. However, this is still a nice time to check out the lavender buds while enjoying relatively cheap accommodation. (Accommodation prices in the region sky-rocket in July and August.) As tiny as they are, you will be able to smell them already when you are there.
Despite not reaching its peak, the flower fields at Tomita Farm are still a sight to behold.
Heading up North from Furano, Biei is another town you should definitely visit. If you have time for one flower field in Biei, make it Shikisai No Oka.
But in my opinion, the beauty of Biei does not just lie in the colourful flower fields. The whole countryside scenery of Biei is breath-taking.
Everywhere you drive in Biei, you will be surrounded by these beautiful ‘patchworks’.
Hokkaido Shrine Festival
Back in Sapporo, the Hokkaido Shrine Festival will be happening from 14 to 16 June annually. The parade that takes place around the city on 16 June is something you would not want to miss.
Other Places of Interest Worth Visiting
In this section, I will recommend places that are only open during Summer and closed in Winter – so you may want to consider putting them into your Summer trips.
Unkai Terrace (Tomamu)
In early Summer through Autumn, a gondola brings you up to the terrace where you will be above a sea of clouds. Note, however, that unkai (the sea of clouds) does not always appear – it really depends on your luck that morning. Unkai Terrace is open from mid-May to mid October. Please check the official website for exact opening dates for the year.
Most of the restaurants and ryokan at Shakotan Peninsular close throughout winter. But by late April, they will slowly start to open for business again as people start to visit the area for hiking (if you consider a walk along the cape hiking) and seafood.
In particular, the region is famous for its uni (sea urchin) and the uni here is only available in the months of June to August.
Below are some suggested itineraries for travel in Hokkaido between late May to June. You will have to tweak it depending on the number of days you have and your exact dates of travel, but base it on the following:
- To visit Northern Hokkaido in late May
- To be in Sapporo during the Yasokoi Soran Festival and Hokkaido Shrine Festival
- To visit Furano / Biei as late as possible in June
Hokkaido trip in late May
Day 1: CTS – Asahikawa (lunch break at Asahikawa Ramen Village) – Takinoue – Abashiri
Day 2: Abashiri – Kamiyubetsu – Higashimokoto – Shiretoko
Day 3 – 4: Shiretoko
Day 5: Shiretoko – Lake Akan
Day 6: Akan National Park
Day 7: Lake Akan – Kushiro – Obihiro
Day 8: Obihiro – Tomamu
Day 9: Tomamu – CTS
If you have more time, you can return to Sapporo at the end of this. Chances are you will be there in time for Yasokoi Soran Festival.
Hokkaido in Early June
Day 1: CTS – Lake Shikotsu – Lake Toya
Day 2: Lake Toya – Hakodate
Day 3: Hakodate / Mount Esan
Day 4: Hakodate – Niseko
Day 5: Niseko
Day 6: Niseko – Shakotan Peninsular – Otaru
Day 7: Otaru – Sapporo
You can spend the rest of the time in Sapporo, and try to coincide this with Yasokoi Soran Festival.
Hokkaido in mid – end June:
Day 1 – 3: Start your trip in Sapporo, try to coincide the date with Hokkaido Shrine Festival.
Day 4: Day trip to Otaru from Sapporo
Day 5: Sapporo – Tomamu
Day 6: Tomamu – Furano
Day 7 – 8: Furano / Biei
Day 9: Furano – CTS
Links / Telephone Numbers / Map Codes
- Takinoue Shibazakura Park 芝ざくら滝上公園
[Map Code: 570 699 650]
- Higashimokoto Shibazakura Park 東藻琴芝桜公園
[Tel: 0152-66-3111 | Map Code: 638 713 571]
- Kamiyubetsu Tulip Park 湧別のチューリップ公園
[Tel: 01586-2-3000 | Map Code: 404 550 751]
- Shiretoko Five Lakes 知床五湖
[Tel: 0152- 24 – 3323 | Map Code: 757 730 365]
- Mount Esan 恵山
[Map Code: 875 185 761]
- Tomita Farm ファーム富田
[Tel: 0167 39 3939 | Map Code: 349 306 019]
- Shikisai No Oka 四季彩の丘
[Tel: 0166-95-2758 | Map Code: 349 701 186]
- Hoshino Resort Tomamu 星野リゾート トマム
[Tel: 0167-58-1111 | Map Code: 608 511 277]
- Cape Kamui 神岬町
[Map Code: 932 582 660]
- Cape Shakotan 積丹岬
[Map Code: 932 745 326]
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