A spacious island located at Japan’s northern extremity with festivals throughout the seasons. A region with an abundance of natural beauty.
Sapporo City Clock – which has been marking time for over a century
Old Hokkaido Government biulding -a neo-baroque building known as “Red Brick” that is lit up after dark
Hokkaido University (formerly Hokkaido Agricultural College) – poplars
Odori Avenue Park – is more than 1,400 meters long. In summer it is full of beer gardens, while in winter it becomes the location for a snow festival. During the festival, this big park is lined with magnificent snow statues and beautiful ice statues.
Otaru is situated in the western part of Hokkaido, facing Ishikari Bay. It has developed and prospered as “the sea entrance of Hokkaido” over the last 100 years and it has gained the nickname “Wall Street of the North.” The glassworks shops, coffee shops, restaurants and shopping malls along the canal have been converted from stone-built or brick-built warehouses, which were used for storage in the days when commerce flourished and the canal was crowded with jostling barges. When night falls, oil lamps on the cobbled streets are lit, and the town evokes a gentle, nostalgic mood.
Otaru’s nickname is “the town of hills” as there are so many hills, including Jigoku-zaka (hell hill) – a very steep slope, and the long, winding Funami-zaka. Mt. Tengu-yama that towers behind Otaru is a popular ski resort in winter. There is an observation point on Mt. Tengu-yama, and the panoramic view including the whole of Otaru and its port area is absolutely wonderful. There are also cable cars to take you to the mountaintop.
The coastal area in the suburb of Otaru belongs to Niseko-Shakotan-Otaru-Beach Quasi-National Park and beauty spots, including the cliffs at Omotai attract many visitors, especially in summer.
On’neyu-onsen Hot Spring 温根湯（おんねゆ）
Opened in 1890, the On’neyu-onsen Hot Spring is one of Hokkaido’s leading hot spring resorts. It is in Rubeshibe-cho, a town in northeastern Hokkaido about 30 kilometers from Kitami, a city known for its peppermint production. The riverbanks are lined with hotels, and at sunset the hot spring area is bustling with people going out for walks.
The highlight of a visit to the area is the sight of the symbol of On’neyu-onsen Hot Spring, the world’s biggest cuckoo clock. It symbolizes the town that developed as a center for lumber. The clock is 20-meters-tall and built in a spiral shape. Every day at midday, mechanical dolls appear and music plays. The hot spring is also famous for the Hokkaido purple azalea, which has been designated as a natural monument. In early summer the area is awash in purple and pink with as many as 280,000 flowers blooming on the azalea bushes along the riverbanks.
Nearby is a fox farm, where the ‘kita-kitsune’ (northern fox), one of Hokkaido’s most famous animals, is bred. The rare silver fox can be seen there. Also, at the town aquarium and local museum can be found Japan’s biggest freshwater fish, the ‘itou,’ a type of salmon known as the “phantom fish” due to it being designated as an endangered species.
More information here.