About Hokkaido Banner


Japan's northern most island, is a far cry from the busy lives of the people around the capital.
In the summer, its milder climate serves to reflect the more relaxed attitudes of the smiling locals while the sub-arctic conditions
in the winter offer the perfect backdrop for skiing and other winter sports.
From the world renowned Sapporo Snow festival to the picture-perfect fields of Biei, Hokkaido radiates an air of leisure and recreation.
Sapporo (Main Image)

Sapporo 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.

The town of Biei is located almost at the center of Hokkaido, in the hilly district at the foot of the Tokachi-dake Mountain Range. It was only in the 1970s that the town became regarded as one of the best sightseeing spots in Hokkaido. Shinzo Maeda, a leading Japanese landscape photographer with a worldwide reputation, once visited Biei and was very moved by its beautiful scenery, as well as by the wonderful views of hills in the neighboring town of Kami-Furano. Since then, he visited Biei repeatedly over 10 years to take photographs, which were used for photo collections, post cards, posters, films, TV commercials, etc., making the views of town well known throughout Japan. On a hill in Biei, in a former elementary school building, the Takushinkan photo gallery is open to the public and exhibits Maeda's excellent works, which greatly impress visitors.
Lake Mashu

Among many lakes in Hokkaido, Lake Mashu is especially beautiful. Enveloped in a fog most of the time, it is referred to as “Kiri no Mashu-ko" (Foggy Lake Mashu) and cannot be seen often. Once the fog is cleared, the beautiful Lake Mashu comes into view. It is 211 meters deep and boasts the clearest water in the world with the visibility of 41.6 meters. The mysterious deep blue color of Lake Mashu is called “Mashu blue." The water level never changes even though it has no rivers flow into or out. Being surrounded by cliffs of 300 - 400 meters high, it does not let people come close easily. There are three observation decks to view Lake Mashu.