Amazing Adventures in Hokkaido

  • Water sports during the summer in Japan and Hokkaido are an integral part of life! The Hokkaido locals love to make the most of the short summer season by heading to the many lakes, beaches and ri...

  • 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.

  • The indigenous tanuki is ubiquitous throughout the four main islands of Japan, including Hokkaidō, and I see it quite frequently here, where I live, in the Akan–Mashu National Park. For most Japanese residents however, this creature remains rarely seen and more mythical than real. After all, it is widespread and numerous, at least in ceramic form, appearing outside taverns and eateries throughout the land, and every child learns, via folk tales and fables, of its strange guile and bewildering shape-shifting capabilities. By Mark Brazil

  • At the Daisetsuzan Nature School, we provide environmental education for local children. As I covered in my last article, we are putting together a list of 100 things that all kids in Hokkaido should experience. In this article, I’d like to explain two natural experiences that – during summer – draw people to Daisetsuzan National Park, located in the middle of Hokkaido: snowball fights and discovering Daisetsuzan “at the intersection of alpine flora.”

  • My first recollection of contact with the Ainu was when I was 10 or 11 years old, during a visit to Shiraoi on a school study trip. I can remember an enormous statue standing tall at the entrance of Poroto Kotan, a former cultural site now replaced by Upopoy, the National Ainu Museum. You may think that 10 years old is a little late considering I grew up where the Ainu's presence is supposedly the strongest in all of Japan. If you take New Zealand as a contrast, children grow up watching the All Blacks perform the haka, and many learn to sing the national anthem in the Maori language. That kind of quotidian contact with the indigenous culture didn't occur in my childhood, something I only started questioning after living in New Zealand.

  • Spring is the season of hope and anticipation after the long winter months in Hokkaido, particularly for cyclists. Even for those who continued riding in the snow and ice, spring is a time when heavy weights seem to have been lifted from your wheels and legs, and the thrill of speed returns.

  • Jozankei Onsen is one of Japan’s most famous natural hot-spring resort With over a 150-year history, and more than 75 different naturally occurring hot springs from the bottom of the Toyohira river which runs through the valley, Jozankei is well known to the Japanese public. Often being featured on TV programs extolling the benefits of the healing waters and introducing the many hotels and activities which can be enjoyed in the area.

  • In southern Japan, delicate vernal blossoms of plum, peach and cherry now bedeck the branches, proving that a new season has arrived and showing that everything is alive — It’s spring! Meanwhile, in northern Japan, it is snow that coats the limbs of trees, snow that blizzards and lies deeply piled and drifted between forest trees, snow that brightens mountain flanks and threatens to crush the ageing roof beams of abandoned houses, and it is drift ice that covers the sea, proving that the old season’s frosty, vicelike grip remains hard — It’s still winter!! By Mark Brazil

  • Life in Hokkaido is dictated by the seasons, and winter in Hokkaido is the season for skiing. Unlike many ski destinations around the world that are found in high mountainous areas, Hokkaido receives an abundance of snow all the way to sea level – making every town with a small hill – a ski town.

  • At the Daisetsuzan Nature School, we provide environmental education for local children. We are putting together a list of 100 things that all kids in Hokkaido should experience. These experiences are not just fun outdoor activities, but also those we adults think would help develop an understanding of our environment. Understanding the environment and how our actions affect it, is key for us to live sustainably for generations to come.