Amazing Adventures in Hokkaido
The abundance of the natural environment, the lifestyles and culture of the people who live there – Hokkaido has many incredible stories that are as yet unknown.
In this column, we learn about the appeal of Hokkaido’s four seasons from the people who guide adventure tours there. We hope such stories enrich the time spent in Hokkaido, the next time you visit.
Column：Summer in Shiribeshi – A vibrant season of blue and green!
As summer arrives in Shiribeshi, the energy of the region is reflected in the vibrant greens of the forests and iridescent blues of the seas and lakes in the area. It’s the season of blues and greens, sunny days and great adventures.
It’s a short summer, but one full of natural energy, where life is drawn to water. It’s the time when the lakes, rivers and coastlines come to life – while the weather is perfect.
Hokkaido’s summers, in my opinion, are the best in Asia. While escaping the oppressive humidity that engulfs many other islands in Japan and South East Asia, Hokkaido’s summers are warm and temperate, with just a few weeks a year where the thermometer peaks over 30 degrees Celsius. The long twilight hours extend the days well into evening and the early sunrises ensure the days are long, with plenty of hours for enjoying the outdoors.
The lakeside campsites at Lake Shikotsu and Lake Toya are two of my favourite places to unwind, and the smell of a charcoal barbeque at sunset brings to mind many fond memories of relaxing through the weekend with friends in these picturesque locations.
Setting up camp for the weekend, firing up the barbeque and spending the days beside the lake, swimming or paddling canoes and SUP’s to explore is a perfect getaway. There are many different campsite options on both lakes, all with their own unique charm – from grassy lawns to pebbly beaches.
Beyond these two main lakes, the area is dotted with many other smaller water holes and mountain lakes perfect for quick explorations. Shinsen-numa is a highland marshland located on the Panorama Line mountain pass linking the Niseko and Iwanai areas. It’s a charming wetland area with timber walkways meandering through the glassy ponds. On a sunny day these mirror-like ponds reflect the deep blue skies of Hokkaido’s summer. It’s a unique and beautiful landscape, only revealed once the last of the winter snow retreats.
On a hot afternoon a quick visit to one of the many swimming holes along the Shiribetsu River is a great way to refresh. The river provides a consistent flow of invigoratingly cold and deliciously fresh water, perfect for a quick dip and a place to sit and watch the rafting boats float by.
Of all of the aquatic adventures of summer, without a doubt my favourite is sea kayaking around the Shakotan Peninsular to explore the absolutely pristine blue waters of this wild coastline. The peninsular is a large finger of land dropping into the ocean with volcanic-rock cliffs capped with vibrant green vegetation.
The peninsular ends at Kamui Misaki (cape of the gods), which is a dotted sequence of rocks extending out from the peninsula’s tip. As the name suggests, this is a truly special place with a geography and energy that you can feel as you navigate the surrounding waters. This striking coastline has to be seen to be believed as the blues and green here are so vibrant, they seem almost artificial.
Like so much of Hokkaido, the striking difference of the seasons and the transition from stark white to vibrant colour opens the door for a whole new style of outdoor exploration. It’s this seasonal change that defines the cycle of life here and with it comes renewed energy and motivation to get out and experience everything each season has to offer.
Written by Aaron Jamieson; Australian, 15-year resident of Niseko.
Photographer, Director, Cinematographer whose artworks can be viewed at his Fine Art Photographic Gallery in Hirafu, Niseko.