Pentru a-3-a calatorie-vizita în Japonia, am ales în iunie-trecut Hokkaido, cea mai nordica insula din arhipelagul japonez si cea mai putin dezvoltata, industrializata. Prima impresie? Senzatia de-a fi în Europa: Germania, Elvetia, Austria sau Franta, în nici-un caz în Japonia traditionala, unde fusesem de doua ori.
Hokkaido is the second largest, northernmost and least developed of Japan’s four main islands.
Hokkaido’s weather is harsh in winter with lots of snowfall, below zero temperatures and frozen seas, while in summer, it does not get as hot and humid as in the other parts of the country.
With its unspoiled nature, Hokkaido attracts many outdoor lovers, including skiers and snowboarders in the colder seasons and hikers, cyclists and campers from June to Sept ===
Sapporo (“important river flowing through a plain” in Ainu language) is the capital of Hokkaido and Japan’s fifth largest city. Sapporo is also one of the nation’s youngest major cities. In 1857, the city’s population stood at just seven people.
In the beginning of the Meiji Period, when the development of Hokkaido was started on a large scale, Sapporo was chosen as the island’s administrative center and enlarged according to the advice of foreign specialists. Consequently, Sapporo was built based on a North American style rectangular street system.
Sapporo became world famous in 1972 when the Olympic Winter Games were held there. Today, the city is well known for its ramen, beer, and the annual snow festival held in February.
Noboribetsu Onsen is Hokkaido’s most famous hot spring resort. A large amount of Noboribetsu’s many types of hot spring water surfaces in the spectacular Jigokudani or “Hell Valley” just above the resort town.
Noboribetsu is part of Shikotsu-Toya National Park.
Otaru is a harbor city, half an hour northwest of Sapporo by train. Its beautiful canal area and interesting herring mansion make Otaru a pleasant one day trip from Sapporo or a nice stop en route to or from the Shakotan Peninsula.
Ferries from Niigata and Maizuru on Honshu arrive at Otaru Port.
Abashiri is a city of 40,000 people on the eastern coast of Hokkaido, not far from Shiretoko and Akan national parks. The city’s main tourist attractions are its prison museum and the drift ice, which can be observed in the Okhotsk Sea during winter.
Shiretoko National Park, located on the Shiretoko Peninsula in eastern Hokkaido, is one of Japan’s most beautiful and unspoiled national parks.
No roads lead further than about three fourth up the peninsula, and the northern tip can only be viewed from boats or be reached on multi day trekking tours.
The peninsula is home to a variety of wildlife, including brown bears, dear and foxes. In winter, the peninsula’s coast along the Sea of Okhotsk becomes one of the northern hemisphere’s southernmost regions to see drift ice.
In July 2005, Shiretoko was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites for the irreplaceable value of the peninsula’s ecosystem and biodiversity.
Daisetsuzan is Hokkaido’s largest national park. It preserves a densely forested, mountainous area of virtually unspoiled wilderness, which equals more than ten times the size of Osaka City. It is a paradise for hikers, outdoor lovers, deer and brown bears.
Akan National Park is located in eastern Hokkaido. The park is well known for its three beautiful lakes: Lake Akan, Lake Mashu and Lake Kussharo. Lake Mashu is of particular fame. Although often covered by fog, its waters are some of the clearest in the world.
Akan National Park is composed of two separate parts. The smaller, western portion contains Lake Akan with the lakeside hot spring resort of Akankohan Onsen. The larger, eastern part contains Lake Mashu, Lake Kussharo, Iozan (Sulfur Mountain) and centrally located Kawayu Onsen.
Lake Toya (Toyako) is part of the Shikotsu-Toya National Park. In addition to the lake itself, the Toyako region features hot springs and an active volcano, Mount Usu, which last erupted in the year 2000. The area also offers many fishing, hiking, and camping opportunities.
The picturesque lake was chosen as the location of the the G8 summit which Japan hosted from July 7 to 9, 2008. The leaders of the world’s eight major industrialized democracies met at the Windsor Hotel Toya Resort & Spa.