Sapporo (New Chitose)
Upopoy National Ainu Museum and Park
Experience and understand the culture and history of Hokkaido's indigenous Ainu people
2-chome 3, Wakakusacho, Shiraoi Town, Shiraoi District
0144-82-3914 (The Foundation for Ainu Culture)
Official website https://ainu-upopoy.jp/
A Hub to Revive and Further Develop Ainu Culture
Upopoy faces the shores of scenic Lake Poroto, overlooking beautiful scenery which changes with the seasons. The phrase 'upopoy' means 'to sing (together in a large group)' in the Ainu language, and this museum is designed as a hub for the revival and further development of Ainu culture. The Ainu are an indigenous people with their own unique language, culture, and history. Through the displays and activity programs at Upopoy, visitors will experience the Ainu world values centered about coexistence with the kamuy (deities), and gain appreciation of diversity in Japan. Throughout the museum, the primary language is Ainu, so please try greeting the staff with 'irankarapte' ('hello').
An Innovative Museum Teaching about the Past and Present of the Ainu
On the second floor of the Ainu National Museum, the permanent exhibition room contains displays themed on language, universe, lifestyle, history, work, and exchange, which explore Ainu culture from a variety of viewpoints. Displays include exemplary materials such as clothing featuring Ainu patterns and ceremonial implements, as well as crafts and artwork created by present-day Ainu artisans. These exhibitions allow visitors to understand how Ainu traditional culture has changed over time, and in what manner Ainu traditional culture lives on today. Also, on the first floor, the museum shop sells original items only available at Upopoy, such as Ainu crafts.
Experience Ainu Culture through Interactive Programs
When you visit Upopoy, please don't miss out on the opportunity to participate in interactive programs, including mukkuri (mouth harp) performance and making, cooking Ainu cuisine, carving and embroidery of Ainu patterns, and more. Of these, we particularly recommend the 'Traditional Performing Arts' program, which features traditional song, dance, and musical instrument performances amidst video presentations inspired by Hokkaido's natural environment. Programs vary each time, but all allow visitors to experience the beautiful sound and profound expressiveness of the Ainu language.
Experience a World of 'Lake Shikotsu Blue' at one of Japan's Clearest Lakes
Chitose City, Hokkaido
0123-25-2404 (Lake Shikotsu Visitor Center, Lake Shikotsu Tourist Information)
Official website http://shikotsukovc.sakura.ne.jp/
Enjoy Canoeing on one of Japan's Clearest Lakes
Lake Shikotsu is a gigantic caldera lake located within the municipality of Chitose City. As Japan's northernmost non-freezing lake, Shikotsu is renowned for its remarkable clarity, and has been selected as Japan's clearest lake a number of times in the past. A variety of activities, such as fishing and cycling, are available throughout the area. Of these, we particularly recommend canoeing and kayaking. It's a truly special experience to leisurely row across the striking blue lake surface, which seems to change its expression with the daily weather. A great range of program options await, from simple tours to serious lessons.
Breathtaking Scenery and Hot Spring Baths to Refresh Body and Mind
Shikotsu Kohan is a renowned hot spring district, with a variety of hot spring lodges scattered around the vicinity. Of these, the oldest is Marukoma Onsen, established 1915. In this rare configuration, seen in only about 20 hot springs throughout Japan, hot spring water wells up from directly beneath your feet, allowing visitors to experience hot spring water which has never been exposed to air, directly from the source. Only a rocky stretch separates the open-air bath from the lake, providing a remarkably rustic, natural location from which to appreciate the beauty of the changing seasons whilst soaking in the hot spring waters.
Savor Local Delicacies Featuring Lake Shikotsu's Famed 'Chippu' Salmon
Lake Shikotsu is renowned for its local sockeye salmon, which are affectionately known as 'chippu' by the locals. These chippu are freshwater salmonid species, and are commonly enjoyed as sashimi or roasted. A local dish, known as 'Aki Hime Ontama Rice', is another popular way to savor this special local ingredient. This dish is plated atop a layer of sauce styled after Lake Shikotsu, and features rice mixed with chippu flakes, shaped to represent the volcanic Mt. Tarumae to the south of Lake Shikotsu. Breaking into the rice will reveal a soft-boiled egg, which runs forth like lava. Inspired by the area's natural beauty, this dramatic dish is a memorable part of experiencing the area.
A Breathtaking Field of Lights, Selected as One of Japan's New Three Most Spectacular Night Views
5-chome 3-7, Fushimi, Chuo-ku, Sapporo City (Moiwa Sanroku Station)
011-561-8177 (Sapporo Mt. Moiwa Ropeway)
Official website https://mt-moiwa.jp/
Panoramic Views of Sapporo's Cityscape from the Mountaintop
Located roughly in the middle of Sapporo, Mt. Moiwa stands at an elevation of 531 meters. From the mountain base, take the ropeway or drive your car mid-way up the mountain. Once there, the 'Morris Car' mini cable car provides access to the peak. In the Ainu language, Mt. Moiwa is known as 'Inkar-us-pe', or 'place to always climb and observe'. Fittingly, the peak affords outstanding views over Sapporo's cityscape, on to the distant Ishikari Bay, and even as far as Mt. Mashike-Shokanbetsu. For these breathtaking sights, Mt. Moiwa is one of Sapporo's foremost tourist destinations.
Renowned as One of Japan's New Three Most Spectacular Night Views
The spectacular views from Mt. Moiwa are by no means limited by daylight. With a population of two million, the metropolis of Sapporo creates spectacular night views, which have been selected as one of "Japan's New Three Most Spectacular Night Views". As you gaze into this vast "field of light", you might lose track of time. In clear weather, the moon enters this enchanting view, which has also been accredited as one of the "Japan 100 Moon" sites. The mountaintop restaurant offers dining over breathtaking night views, and is a popular evening date spot.
Mt. Moiwa's Popular Alpine Trails
Mt. Moiwa is popular among locals as an easily-ascended mountain, and on summer weekends, you are likely to meet many locals on the alpine trails. There are a total of five courses of alpine trails. From the 'Jikeikai Hospital Entrance', it is about a 2.9 km hike to the peak, which can be ascended even by beginners in a matter of about 75 minutes one-way. The virgin forests of Mt. Moiwa are home to some 450 plant species, and observing these plants from the trail adds to the joy of hiking. Rest areas, toilets, and changing rooms are available on the first floor of the Sancho (Peak) Station.
Snow Activities and Many Other Wonderful Experiences Await
Niseko Town, Abuta District
0136-44-2468 (Niseko Resort Tourist Association)
Official website https://www.niseko-ta.jp/
A Holy Ground for Snow Activities
The township of Niseko is nestled between Mt. Yohtei (national parkland) to the east and Mt. Niseko-Annupuri (quasi-national parkland) to the north. Known as Hokkaido's foremost holy ground for snow activities, Niseko draws many visitors from throughout Japan and around the world in winter. The secret is Niseko's remarkable snow quality, which features a pleasant thickness and spring underfoot. Due to the region's heavy snowfalls, it's not uncommon to find the ski slopes have been freshly covered in powder in the time it takes to ride the lifts back up. The area contains four ski slopes, providing plenty of variation to suit all skill levels.
Wash Away Your Exhaustion in a Hot Spring Bath
Summer offers its own opportunities to experience nature, with river sports including SUP (stand-up paddleboarding) and alpinist destinations such as Mt. Yohtei (elevation 1898 meters). After a hard day outdoors, try a refreshing soak in one of many natural hot spring spas scattered throughout the township. A total of eleven hot spring spas each offer unique mineral content. One option that is particularly popular among the locals is 'Kiranoyu', a spa located just across from JR Niseko Station. In addition to the very convenient access, entry to this easily-enjoyed spa costs just a single coin (500 yen).
Savor Popular Niseko Brand Dairy Products
When you visit Niseko, don't miss the opportunity to stop by 'Niseko Takahashi Dairy Farm'. Raw milk sourced directly from their own dairy ranch is the secret behind the wonderful flavor of their sweets. We particularly recommend trying the soft-serve ice cream, which offers the rich, creamy flavor of milk balanced with a clean, fresh aftertaste. In summer, this Niseko Takahashi Dairy Farm is a very popular attraction visited by many tourists. Also, cheese from 'Niseko Cheese Factory' makes an excellent souvenir. The great effort and dedication of the cheesemakers can be appreciated in their blue cheese, 'Niseko Ku', which has received Japan Cheese Awards numerous times.
Experience Otaru's 'Good Old Days' Vibe, Remarkable History, and Delectable Cuisine
Official website https://otaru.gr.jp/
Otaru's Iconic Canal
Otaru was once a financial town known as 'The Wall Street of the North'. Even today, Otaru's Ironai-Odori Street is lined with old-fashioned buildings harkening back to those times. To the east of Ironai-Odori Street lies Otaru Canal, which was originally constructed to facilitate efficient unloading of cargo from ships anchoring at Otaru Bay. Nowadays, the canal is an iconic symbol of sightseeing in Otaru. The canal is 1,140 meters long, and the adjacent walking path is lit by 63 old-fashioned gas lamps. At dusk, the illuminated stone warehouses create an enchanting scene.
Savor a Variety of Local Otaru Gourmet Foods
Otaru is renowned for its variety of local cuisine. This port town's renowned sushi and kaisendon (rice bowls topped with sashimi) are perhaps most popular among tourists, but you will also find local soul foods, such as 'Otaru Ankake Yakisoba' (yakisoba noodles topped with a thick sauce including plenty of vegetables, pork, and seafood), on the menus of most restaurants. If you had to pick just one local dish to try, we'd recommend the 'Wakadori Hanmi Age' found at the 'Otaru Narutoya' restaurant. In this dish, an entire half chicken is deep-fried, creating an irresistible combination of crispy skin and juicy meat.
Popular Souvenirs Include 'LeTAO' and 'Amato'
Otaru offers a wide range of delightful souvenirs. Start with the classic sweets from 'Otaru Patisserie LeTAO', or try the sleeper hit 'Marron Coron' cookies from 'Otaru Amato'. The Marron Coron series features original chocolate fillings sandwiched between crisp sablé biscuits, in four flavors: almond, cheese, cacao, and walnut. With a long shelf life, they make ideal souvenirs. In addition to Otaru's renowned sweets, other attractive souvenirs include music boxes, glassware, and accessories.
A Historic Hot Spring District just a short trip from Downtown Sapporo
Jozankei Onsen, Minami-ku, Sapporo City
011-598-2012 (Jozankei Tourist Association)
Official website https://jozankei.jp/
A Hot Spring District with over 150 Years of History
Jozankei Onsen is a hot spring district located in Minami-ku, Sapporo. Its long history as a hot spring district began in 1866. According to records, Miizumi Jozan, a Buddhist priest, heard rumors of a hidden hot spring where deer go to heal their wounds, and later discovered the hot spring source under the guidance of the Ainu people. Later, a hot spring village was developed to complement the vibrant nature and excellent water quality. Jozankei Onsen has since grown into one of Hokkaido's foremost hot spring resorts, attracting some 2.4 million visitors yearly. The area includes ten hot spring hotels, and features foot baths which can be enjoyed free of charge.
Charming Location Amidst Vibrant Nature
Nestled amidst abundant nature and overlooking the beautiful scenes of the changing seasons, it may be difficult to believe that Jozankei Onsen is located only about an hour from Sapporo's city center. The region's autumns are particularly vibrant, offering views of magnificent mountainscapes tinged by crimson leaves whilst luxuriating in a hot spring bath. Other attractions include 'Iwato Kannondo Temple', which is decorated with 33 statues of the Buddhist goddess Kannon, 'Jozankei Gensen Park', which recreates the scene of Miizumi Jozan's discovery of the spring source, and 'Kokoro no Sato Jozan', a place of peaceful relaxation.
Colorful Events Create Beautifully Illuminated Scenes
Jozankei Onsen is home to a number of events held throughout the year. One of the most popular is 'Jozankei Nature Luminarie', which is held every summer. During this art installation event, the abundant nature of Jozankei is illuminated by colorful lights, creating the unique sensation that you have become a part of the artwork itself. Another popular event is 'Yukitouro' ('Snow Candle Way'), where 2,000 snow lanterns illuminate the Jozankei Shrine grounds, creating a magical scene.
These are some of the destinations in Hokkaido served by AIRDO.
Watch some videos that showcase their appeal.