There are so many places to see and things to do in Japan – exploring the city of Tokyo, visiting cute little cat cafes, and of course, helping yourself to as much sushi as you can stomach. But how often do you hear about the beautiful island of Hokkaido? Underrated and overlooked, it’s a lush corner of Asia that’s the perfect summer getaway. Hugo Chetcuti and team have compiled a few reasons why this Japanese region should be your next holiday destination.
It’s Nirvana for Nature Lovers
Approximately 10% of Hokkaido is solely made up of countryside; national parkland covers about 10 acres of the isle, along with lakes, mountains, forests and even volcanoes. An absolute must-see is Shiretoko National Park, a peninsula that was named by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 2005. It’s home to wildlife such as deer, sea-eagles and brown bears. The optimal time to hike through this green paradise is from June to September.
Marvel at the Blue Pond of Biei
Renowned for its striking and unique appearance, the Blue Pond is now famous the world over. Its colour is the result of artificiality, when a dam was built in 1988 to prevent mudflow from a nearby volcanic eruption. The blue hue of the water is a by-product of said construction, said to be caused by aluminium hydroxide.
#TreatYoSelf at Hokkaido’s Hot Springs
You can’t visit Japan without experiencing the steamy sensation of an onsen – nature’s own variation of a hot tub. It’s the perfect way to decompress and relax after a long day of hiking through the island’s beautiful forests and parks. One of the most popular hot spring districts is Jozankei, an onsen town where free foot baths can also be found.
If you’re a history buff, then this quaint little castle town is definitely worth a visit. Not only can you find Matsumae Castle, which dates back to the Edo Period, but this location is also host to some ten thousand cherry trees and a small Sakura museum.
Hugo Chetcuti’s Chefs recommend: The City of Sapporo
The capital of Hokkaido and the fifth largest city in Japan, Sapporo is the perfect spot for foodies. It’s home to Shiroi Koibito Park, where visitors can sample delicious cookies and even make their own at the famous confectionary. Make sure you taste the local cuisine – grilled mutton (jingisukan) which is a regional speciality, as well as soup curry. If you’re a beer lover, stop by the Sapporo Beer Museum, the only one of its kind in the whole country.
Our Hokkaido platter is just one of our special dishes each named after various Asian locations. Help yourselves to skewers wrapped in sumptuous marinated Argentinian ribeye beef, paired with Teriyaki sauce for that Japanese touch. Come over to Bacco Sticks & Sum owned by Hugo Chetcuti, and taste some of the best authentic Asian recipes in Malta.
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