Hokkaido (北海道) continues to represent the untamed wilderness with many great national parks.
For many visitors the scenery resembles northern Europe, with rice paddies and concrete warrens typical of the rest of Japan replaced by rolling fields and faux-German cottages.
However, the ubiquitous hot spring resorts in much of the island serve as a reminder that you are still in Japan. Hokkaido is by far Japan’s largest prefecture, consisting of Japan’s entire northern island and its surrounding islets.
Hokkaido is cooler than the rest of Japan, and the merciful lack of Japan’s muggy summers and rainy season makes it a very popular domestic destination between May and August.
Most of Hokkaido was settled by the Japanese within the last 100 years, compared to the thousands of years of Japanese history and pre-history.
Before that it was only inhabited by the hunter-gatherer Ainu culture. As a result, its architecture and cities are much more modern, and mostly based on western-like grid layouts.
The beautiful and mysterious blue of the Kaminoko Pond (Child of God Pond) in Kiyosato.