Breathtaking Sights Breathtaking natural beauty

Ice block at the mouth of the Tokachi River
Hideo Kishimoto

Experts' Voice

"Awe-inspiring, unforgettable scenery."
Keizo Funatsu
Adventurer / General Manager of NIKI Hills Village
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"Great food, flowers and skiing on Rishiri and Rebun Islands."
Daisuke Sasaki
Mountain skier / International Mountain Guide
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"More than I can count."
Ting Pui
Ting Pui
Managing Director of Travel Alliance Japan
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"LAKE MASHU: The caldera provides the most spectacular view in Hokkaido. AKAN-MASHU NATIONAL PARK: Dramatic steaming volcanoes, beautiful lakes, lovely trails. TEURI-TO: Spectacular home to a huge Rhinoceros Auklet colony. MIYAJIMA-NUMA: Unforgettable gatherings of geese in both spring and autumn."
Mark Brazil
Dr Mark Brazil
Ornithologist, Naturalist, Author, Founder of "Japan Nature Guides”, Consultant of "HOKKAIDO Adventure Travel Association (HATA)”
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"The magnificent scenic views are a treat for the eyes."
Man Kin Wong
Man Kin Wong
Chiiki Okoshi Kyoryoku Tai (Volunteers for Cooperation in Community Revitalization)
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"Hokkaido is one of the most photogenic places on earth."
Mark Edward Harris
Mark Edward Harris
Photographer / Writer
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Each season in Hokkaido brings breathtaking natural beauty. Winter showcases all kinds of natural phenomena that can only be found somewhere as cold as Hokkaido, such as glittering chunks of ice called Jewelry Ice. You'll also see profusions of flowers and unique plants, such as the common glasswort around Lake Notoro that turns red just like the leaves on trees, creating a vast deep red carpet. And Hokkaido has some of the most beautiful lakes in Japan, such as the Blue Pond in Biei, where minerals turn the water an enchanting bright blue. Find out more about some of the incredible natural scenery you can see.
Jewelry Ice What is it? Glittering chunks of ice washed up on the beach
Where is it found? Otsu Beach in Toyokoro, a town near Obihiro in eastern Hokkaido
When can it be seen? Around mid-January to mid-February
Common Glasswort What is it? A sea plant whose leaves change color in autumn like the leaves on trees
Where is it found? Salt marshes all along the Sea of Okhotsk coast, particularly around Lake Notoro
When can it be seen? Early autumn
Blue Pond (Aoi Ike) What is it? A pond where minerals turn the water bright blue
Where is it? Biei in central Hokkaido
When can it be seen? All year round!

The natural masterpieces created by Hokkaido's cold winters

Jewelry Ice: Otsu Beach, Toyokoro
Jewelry Ice: Otsu Beach, Toyokoro
Hideo Kishimoto

Some parts of Hokkaido reach -30°C in winter, and that brings all kinds of magical natural phenomena. On cold, clear mornings, you can see diamond dust, where ice crystals in the air glitter in the light of the sun. Or if you visit a frozen lake, you might see water leaping up through the cracks in the ice. This is called omiwatari, which means "deity crossing". And of course, the snow crystals and the ice sparkling in the morning sun are a photographer's dream.

Recently, the coast near the mouth of the Tokachi River has attracted attention for a phenomenon called "Jewelry Ice". A 2km stretch of the coastline is filled with chunks of ice resembling big crystals. This area is the only place in Japan where this otherworldly phenomenon can be seen.

Hokkaido's unique wetland plants and flowers

Lake Notoro
Lake Notoro
Hideo Kishimoto

Around 80% of Japan's wetlands can be found in Hokkaido, particularly eastern and northern Hokkaido. The nutrient-rich water in these wetlands feeds a diverse range of plants - you'll be amazed by the flowers you'll see! Walking tracks and observatories are set up, offering stunning views of the seasonal flowers, as well as the towering mountains and the unique topography of Hokkaido's coastlines.

One particularly beautiful plant is the common glasswort by Lake Notoro. A beloved sign that autumn is approaching in eastern Hokkaido, its Japanese name means "coral grass" because of its resemblance to coral. It is found in salt marshes all along the Sea of Okhotsk coast, particularly Lake Notoro where the entire area around the lake is carpeted in red. At one point, the area where it grew shrunk so much that it was feared that the glasswort would die out, but regrowing efforts have restored it to its former glory.

A pond where volcanic minerals create an enchanting effect

Biei shirogane AOI IKE Blue Pond
Biei shirogane AOI IKE Blue Pond
Hideo Kishimoto

Many of Hokkaido's lakes and marshes were formed by volcanic activity. The perfect combination of topography and climate comes together to create enchanting scenery. Lake Shikotsu and Lake Mashu are some of the clearest in Japan, and their vivid blue colors are so beautiful that some locals even use the terms "Mashu blue" and "Shikotsu blue".

The Blue Pond (Aoi Ike) in Biei has also become famous for its beauty in recent years. Formed as a result of measures to control mudslides, the flow of water from Shirahige (White Beard) Falls brings an abundance of minerals such as aluminum, which cause the light to scatter, creating a bright blue color that you can scarcely believe is real.

Stories

Things To Do

Each season in Hokkaido brings breathtaking natural beauty. Bring your camera or smartphone and be prepared to capture incredible sights from winter phenomena such as Jewelry Ice to unique plants to beautiful lakes.

Admire Hokkaido's beautiful views

From colors so rare that they are named after the regions where they are found, to the touch of the winds that herald the change of seasons, to the symphony of natural sounds (the creaking of the drift ice in winter has been selected as one of the 100 Soundscapes of Japan), Hokkaido's nature will thrill all five senses.

Recommended Tours

Jewelry Ice: Otsu Beach, Toyokoro
Jewelry Ice: Otsu Beach, Toyokoro
Tokachi Tourism Federation

Jewelry Ice in Toyokoro

Toyokoro Town Tourism Bureau
JA

Toyokoro, a town in Tokachi Subprefecture near Obihiro, is the only place in Japan where you can see Jewelry Ice, a natural phenomenon in which the beach is covered with chunks of ice that sparkle like crystals. Some pieces even have a vivid blue sparkle when they catch the light. This beautiful phenomenon can be seen between around mid-January and mid-February.

Webpage
Lake Notoro
Lake Notoro
Hideo Kishimoto

Common Glasswort in Lake Notoro

Abashiri City Hall Tourism Division
JA EN

In early autumn, the area around Lake Notoro (20 minutes by bus from downtown Abashiri) is covered with a red carpet of common glasswort. Common glasswort is a sea plant whose leaves change color in autumn in much the same way as the leaves on trees, turning a 4-hectare area around the lake deep red. A festival is held every September to enjoy this natural beauty.

Webpage
Biei shirogane AOI IKE Blue Pond
Hideo Kishimoto

Blue Pond (Aoi Ike) in Biei

Biei Tourist Association
JA EN

The Blue Pond was formed as a result of measures to control mudslides, but the magical blue color happened through a miracle of nature. Water from Shirahige (White Beard) Falls carries minerals such as aluminum into the water. The particles of these minerals cause the sunlight to scatter, making the water look bright blue.

Webpage

Discovering Breathtaking Sights

Spring
Hideo Kishimoto
Summer
Hideo Kishimoto
Autumn
Hideo Kishimoto
Winter
Hideo Kishimoto

All you need to do is show up! Facilities such as tourist information centers and local tourist associations will tell you where these sights are, how to get there and the current conditions.

Best Season To See

Many of the best scenic views in Hokkaido are seasonal, and some natural phenomena occur only under certain weather conditions. Contact a tourist information facility or the local tourist association for the latest information.

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Jewelry Ice
Common glasswort by Lake Notoro
Blue Pond
: Best : Good : Possible

Getting Here

See Hokkaido's breathtaking natural beauty for yourself!

1
Otsu Beach, Toyokoro
2
Lake Notoro
3
Blue Pond (Aoi Ike): Biei

Dos & Don'ts

  • Some scenic spots cannot be accessed during some seasons or in certain weather. We recommend finding out about the spot you want to visit in advance (for example, contacting the tourism association) to avoid disappointment.