Day 1 (Hakodate)
Welcome to Hokkaido! Your day will start with a bullet train ride from Tokyo to Hakodate. This port city sits on the southern tip of Japan’s northern island and has been much influenced by the international world. Your journey here will take approximately 5 hours. After dropping your bags at your hotel, you will meet your guide who be with you for the next few hours. First stop is the Motomachi district. Situated at the base of Mt Hakodate, the area boasts several fascinating buildings of foreign origin. As you wander its streets, you can’t help but imagine what is must have been like, the vibrant excitement residents must have felt, after Japan ended its isolation and this city was opened to international trade. You’ll then head to the top of Mt Hakodate via a scenic ropeway. As the sun sets and the city lights come out, enjoy one of the best night views in the country before making your way back to your hotel to relax for the evening.
Day 2 (Hakodate)
Today you’ll take in a bit more of Hakodate’s history as you travel with your guide to Fort Goryokaku, which has a distinctively western design. A trip up its nearby tower will reveal a stunning birds-eye view of the fort and surrounding area. After getting your fill of the past, make your way to the bay area for lunch which is also home to a number of beautiful old warehouses. No longer used for trading, these ancient buildings have been converted into shops and restaurants, combining the past with the present. The rest of the afternoon will be devoted to taking in the natural beauty of Onuma Koen. This is a short 30min train ride from Hakodate. Take your time here as you explore the area at your own pace, having left your guide in Hakodate. You’ll find two incredibly beautiful lakes here, dotted with islands which you can explore on foot. Alternatively, venture onto the water with a cruise which will showcase all the beauties of the region.
Day 3 (Sapporo)
The next stop on your trip is the bustling city of Sapporo. 80 years ago, this city was one of the smallest in Japan, with just 7 people. Now, it has grown into Japan's 5th largest city and was also the venue for the 1972 Winter Olympics! The afternoon will be free for you to decide how to spend your time, while the evening will set aside to enjoy one of Sapporo's most defining features – its food. Ramen, snow crab, and a plethora of fresh seafood, your first activity in this city will be a guided food tour. Explore the city's local hotspots and discover exactly why visitors flock to the city just for its cuisine.
Day 4 (Sapporo)
There are so many things to do in Sapporo, and your day begins with one of its best. You’ll make your way to the Jogai wholesale seafood market where your expert guide will take you through its busy alleys. You’ll also spend some time choosing sushi toppings from the plethora of fresh produce on display, which you’ll use to make your very own sushi – perfect ammo for the next time you entertain guests! Long ago, the Ainu of Hokkaido used to have their own kingdom before being conquered by the Japanese, and so have a number of interesting cultural differences. Learn all about their history at the Hokkaido museum and take in architecture through the ages at its nearby historical village. Finish the day with a tour of the Sapporo beer museum paired with a tasting of the company’s famous brew!
Day 5 (Otaru)
Venture outside of Sapporo today as you travel to the picturesque town of Otaru. Similar to Hakodate, Otaru used to be an important center for fishing and trade and many of its buildings still reflect this history. Accompanied by a guide, you’ll embark on a city tour to a few of its sites including it beautiful canal area which feels like you’ve entered into a past era. You will have had your fill of beer in Sapporo, but today you’ll move on to another, somewhat stronger beverage - whiskey. A short train ride will take you to the Nikka whisky distillery whose products have won multiple awards. Its founder, Taketsuru, started the distillery with his Scottish wife after helping establish an equally famous brand, Yamazaki, on Japan’s main island. Find out just why this brand is so highly rated as you explore the grounds and enjoy a tasting.
Day 6 (Furano)
Furano sits in the countryside of Hokkaido and boasts absolutely stunning natural scenery. Your first stop is Shikisai no Oka which is home to rolling fields of brightly-colored summer flowers. After working up an appetite, head to the town of Furano to enjoy some of the local cuisine for lunch. Hokkaido is known for its high-quality dairy, and a stop at its cheese factory is a must! They also offer workshops here where you can try your handing at making ice-cream, butter, bread and cheese. Your final stop for the day is the Aoiike blue pond and nearby waterfall. The intense blue of the water here is almost unreal and it’s the perfect place to enjoy some calm at the end of a busy day. Your accommodation for the evening will be a traditional ryokan in the onsen town of Asahidake. We will arrange for a driver and private car as well as a guide for the day.
Day 7 (Daisetsuzan National Park)
You will meet your guide for the day who will take you on a magnificent outdoor adventure. The Daisetsuzan National Park is an unspoiled paradise, filled with multiple varieties of both plants and animals. You will walk some of its trails today, in a private tour designed for you. A ropeway up to Asahidake, the park’s highest mountain, will reveal breath-taking views of the surrounding countryside. It is also one of the only places in Japan you'll find wetlands, making it a somewhat different walking experience to other trails in Japan. Along your way you may even encounter deer and a couple of brown bears! You'll return to your ryokan at the end of a long day to relax in the warmth of their onsen hotprings.
Day 8 (Lake Shikotsu)
Today you'll travel west to Lake Shikotsu which is Japan's 2nd deepest lake. A private car will take you to and from the nearest train stations on either side of your train journey, which will last approximately 3 hours. Lake Shikotsu is an astoundingly picturesque region surrounded by three volcanoes. It also offers a number of stunning walking trails which you will have plenty of time to enjoy as you take in its offerings at your own pace. This will be the part of the trip most dedicated towards relaxation, and so we will leave your schedule relatively free as you enjoy a leisurely last day. Your lodging for the night is a ryokan located right on the banks of the lake where you will be treated to both the on-site hotspring onsen and a traditional Japanese dinner.
Day 9 (Shin-Chitose)
Bid farewell to Japan today as you reflect on all the fantastic new memories you’ve made and board your flight back home! A private car will collect you from your ryokan and take you directly to Shin-Chitose airport, where you will say goodbye to Hokkaido!