We’ve had a question for advice on when is the best period to visit Hokkaido, so here are our answers!!✌️
We’ve talked about how the weather and temperatures look like, our favorite months to be in Hokkaido, and why we think Hokkaido is getting so popular!
How’s the weather like in Hokkaido throughout the year?
Hokkaido is the northern island of the 4 main ones in Japan, and of course the coldest.
Temperatures are around -10 degrees Celcius during winter in the capital Sapporo, and the coldest areas like the 2nd largest city of Hokkaido Asahikawa can go down to around -30 degrees Celcius.
Summer can get hot with the temperature rising over 30 degrees, but the dry weather makes it feel much cooler than the humid mainland.
The good thing to know is that Hokkaido has longer winters that start from late November through April,
so the start of spring is when cherry blossom starts to bloom in South Hokkaido is at the end of April.
In some snow resorts, you will still be able to ski until the beginning of May.
May-July tends to be sunnier while August-September is rainier than the previous 3 months.
Looking at the average, you would have at least 1 day sunny every 3 days, but you will seldom see the sun from late November to mid March, making it a good snowsports destination.
I’ve discovered that the majority of the Hokkaido people actually don’t like the snow, as they are tired of having to snow shovel so much snow all winter every year, but for visitors, might as well make full use of all the snow!
Which season is the best to make a visit?
April and November are high seasons in the rest of Japan for sakura and autumn leaves, while it is low season in Hokkaido as April is filled with melting/dirty snow and November has no more autumn leaves left but snow hasn’t fallen heavily yet.
The best seasons to visit are June to July when it is the sunniest and varieties of flowers start to bloom. August is also very popular but temperatures tend to be highest and it’s rainy compared to June or July.
October is the best month for autumn leaves, and the end of Dec to mid February is the period for snowsports.
The reason why Hokkaido is becoming so popular for its powder snow and why the best powder comes from Niseko
The most popular season to visit Hokkaido for international travelers is winter.
Did you know that the capital of Hokkaido, Sapporo is the 2nd snowiest city (with more than 100,000 in population)?
Actually, the top 3 all are in Japan, 1st place is Aomori City, and the 3rd, Toyama City.
This tells how Japan is such a snow rich country, thus attracts many tourists mainly from the warm Asian countries for the winter experience.
For ski guests from Europe or North America, it has become extremely popular for its powder snow, and it persuades them to travel long distances for the experience.
The secret to Niseko’s powder snow is actually the amount of humidity inside the snow.
When the cold wind blows from the Asian continent towards Japan, it collects the humidity from the Japan Sea, and it again dries up when they blow over tall mountains of Hokkaido like Yotei and Asahidake.
The perfect location of Niseko and Rusutsu in which they are actually close to the Japan Sea and doesn’t have tall mountains blocking the wind that makes them the best candidate to have the best quality snow for skiing and snowboard.
Other ski resorts in Hokkaido that actually has better stable powder than Niseko
Other snow resorts in Hokkaido like Kiroro, Furano, Tomamu, and Asahikawa actually have dryer/powdery snow, having the chance of being the better candidate in warm winters.
But Niseko/Rusutsu, when the timing is right, will have the best quality, and I’ve talked to many skiers and boarders that have been everywhere in the world that tell me the quality of the snow is best in Hokkaido.
But if you are unlucky, you might not even have powder snow in Niseko or Rusutsu, while the other ski resorts in Hokkaido actually have more stable powder due to cooler temperatures/higher altitudes.
Summer in Hokkaido
For Japanese people, Hokkaido is a more popular destination to visit during the summer.
The humid and hot temperatures of Honshu mainland make it attractive to escape the hot weather in the cooler dryer Hokkaido.
It’s a really popular destination for foodies as all food: meat, seafood, dairy, vegetables, and even rice are incredibly tasty here.
Locals and visitors are all out to hiking, camping, fishing, and other outdoor activities.
The lifestyle resembles Canada or towns near the Swiss Alps, with beautiful nature.
I personally love to hike so I go hike up mountains, but there are so many I don’t know if I will ever finish climbing them all.
East Hokkaido still has untouched nature everywhere, and there will be a lot more cows than people living in the towns.
I came across so many wild animals while driving there, and many of our best seafood like crabs, salmon, and sanma(pacific saury) all are fished in East Hokkaido.
My personal favorite is stopping by at Akkeshi for one of the best oysters in Japan.
We have done a road trip to south and east Hokkaido, so find out more from these articles:
- Car trip in Autumn to East Hokkaido: Our favorite destinations
- Car Trip September 2020! Otaru~Niseko~Hakodate: Our favorite destinations
We hope the information helps!
Today we briefly covered the when and why of the best period to visit Hokkaido.
If you have any further questions, feel free to leave a comment or book a free call to ask us for more information!