Otaru is one of my favourite spots for a day tour from Sapporo in all seasons. This old town of Hokkaido is known for its glass works, sushi, ski resorts, and a romantic canal giving it a feel of Venice. However, all this while I never knew about a secret that Otaru holds. It has the largest lily garden in Hokkaido, and probably one of the biggest in the country. The Onze Harukyama Yurien (lily garden) opens only for one short month in summer. In 2013, to attract more business, Snow cruise Onze ski resort in Otaru started this garden. Easy accessibility along with a view of stunning flowers with the Ishikari bay, makes the Onze Harukayama Lily garden, a great site for a quick visit.
Hokkaido is known as a wintry fairyland. For half a year, outdoors here is mostly white. However, with the arrival of spring, pink and white cherry and plum blossoms, rainbow coloured tulips, stunning lilacs, and aromatic lavenders abloom. A number of flower admirers from all over the country come here in spring and summer to enjoy the beautiful flowers. The Higashimokoto Shibazakura Park is a captivating flower park in Hokkaido famous for the Shibazakura (lawn Cherry blossoms) flowers. Every year in May and June, vibrant Shibazakuras blushing around the foothill of Mt. Mokoto, along with lush green forests and a blue sky create a fantasia. You can make the most of your trip to the park by combining it with a visit to the famous Higashimokoto Nyurakukan (Dairy museum), popular for its cheese.
At Shiretoko, the north-eastern part of Hokkaido, brown bears roam free on the mountains overlooking the Sea of Okhostk and Stellars Sea Eagle fly above the deep blue ocean full of whales and dolphins. The Shiretoko peninsula is the home of Shiretoko National Park, a UNESCO world heritage centre to protect the diverse and unique wildlife. It was one of the first settlements for the Ainu people in Hokkaido and now my favourite getaway when I want to be surrounded by mountains and sea. There is a lot more to Shiretoko than wildlife watching, so read along to know what awaits in this remote sanctuary.
Second in the series of secret islands in Hokkaido, is Rebun. With a tiny population of 2000 residents, Rebun island is a sibling of Rishiri. Surrounded by the Sea of Japan, it boasts secluded mountains with gentle hilly curves decorated with wild flowers in the warmer season. Deliciously fresh seafood adds an extraordinary zing to this faraway land. Low altitudes and fewer mountains makes it much easier to trek and to witness the greens and blues of the island. There are plenty of places in Rebun, where you can feast your eyes on nature’s chemistry; below are some of the top spots.
Ever dreamt of spending summer, on a remote island, where the four elements of nature meet? Where you get pure air to breath, peaceful and cold blue sea for a swim, dormant volcanoes a constant reminder of the fire burning within the Earth and isles covered with rare flora and fauna. Hokkaido is such a place where summer lasts for a very short period, but when it does it is nature at its best. In this summer series, I am going to talk about the unfrequented islands on the northernmost frontiers of Hokkaido which are quietly tucked away from mainland’s hustle and bustle. Rishiri is one such islands, a true bliss for nature lovers.