Wild Hokkaido Fly Drive

Hokkaido is the northernmost of the country's four main islands, where the summers are refreshing and humidity free and the winters provide excellent snow fields. You will discover amazing sceneries with sweeping vistas, wildlife and breath taking nature. Hakodate is your first entry point into Hokkaido. See the stunning night view from nearby Mt Hakodate. Continue to Sapporo, Japan's fifth-largest city with its numerous restaurants and bars. Continue to Sounkyo, the heart of Hokkaido in the middle of Daisetsuzan National Park and explore Akan National Park in the north eastern part of Hokkaido with its marshlands, volcanic mountains, and lakes. Explore the remote Shiretoko Peninsula before ending your adventure with an exploration of the Kushiro Marsh.

The best time of year to drive around Hokkaidō is mid-May through mid-October. Allow at least a week for Hakodate to Kushiro although we do recommend a minimum of 12 days to get the most out of your holiday.

Wild Hokkaido Fly Drive at a glance
  • Day 1: Arrival Hakodate
  • Day 2: Hakodate touring
  • Day 3: Hakodate to Shikotsu Toya
  • Day 4: Shikotsu Toya to Sapporo
  • Day 5: Sapporo to Asahi-dake
  • Day 6: Asahi-dake
  • Day 7: Asahi-date to Sounkyo
  • Day 8: Sounkyo to Kussharo lake and Akan-Ko Kohan Onsen
  • Day 9: Akan-Ko Kohan Onsen
  • Day 10: Akan-Ko to Utoro Onsen Shiretoko
  • Day 11: Utoro Onsen Shiretoko
  • Day 12: Utoro Onsen Shiretoko to Kushiro and departure
Wild Hokkaido Fly Drive Image 1

Day 1: Arrival Hakodate

Arrive at Hakodate by flight or by shinkansen from Tokyo and transfer to your hotel.

Distance and journey time: 8 km, 20 mins

Wild Hokkaido Fly Drive Image 2

Day 2: Hakodate touring

Full day to explore Hakodate. Visit its famous churches, morning market and take in the night view from nearby Mt Hakodate.

Day 3: Travel to Shikotsu Toya

Collect your self-drive vehicle and commence your fly drive Hokkaido holiday. Drive to Lake Toya, situated in the Shikotsu-Toya National Park, with Mt Usu, the active volcano near the lake. This is a beautiful caldera lake which never freezes over, even in winter. Enjoy a trip on the lake in a sightseeing boat to visit Naka-no-shima’s “Forest Museum” exhibiting the creatures of Lake Toya-ko. From May to October, you can take one of the tours to watch the Ezo Shika deer living in the forest of Naka-no-shima.

Overnight.

Distance and journey time: 172 km, 2.30 hrs

Wild Hokkaido Fly Drive Image 4

Day 4: Travel to Sapporo

Follow the coastal road to Sapporo.
Sightseeing: Take a photo beneath the iconic, 100-year-old Sapporo City Clock. Admire the magnificent avenue of poplars outside Hokkaido University. Stroll past the fabulous, neo-Baroque Old Hokkaido Government Building at dusk, as the extraordinary edifice known simply to locals as ‘Red Brick’ is illuminated to wonderful effect. Stroll to the stunning Odori Avenue Park, in summer a dazzling display of statuary, water features, and brightly coloured flower beds, in winter a fantastic wonderland of snow and ice sculptures. We suggest joining one of many brewery tours here.
Overnight in Sapporo.

Distance and journey time: 171 km, 2 hrs

Day 5: Travel to Asahi-dake

Drive to the pretty town of Biei with its rolling fields of wildflowers before continuing to Asahidake.
Stay here for 2 nights.

Distance and journey times:
Sapporo to Biei: 164 km, 2.20 hrs
Biei to Asahidake: 38 km, 45 mins

Wild Hokkaido Fly Drive Image 6

Day 6: Asahi-dake

Time to relax at this hot spring resort.

Wild Hokkaido Fly Drive Image 7

Day 7: Asahi-dake to Sounkyo

Drive to Sounkyo Onsen, gateway to Daisetsuzan, Japan's largest national park. Take time to discover two waterfalls, Ginga-no-taki and Ryusei-no-taki. Ginga No Taki is a graceful waterfall with water flowing like white threads, while Ryusei No Taki shows a robust appearance with water strongly falling about 90m.

Overnight.

Distance and journey time: 101 km, 2 hrs

Wild Hokkaido Fly Drive Image 8

Day 8: Sounkyo to Kussharo lake, Akan Ko Kohan Onsen

Go through Bihoro Pass, part of Akan National Park and this is the view point where you can see the whole of Lake Kussharo and Akan mountains. Kussharo Lake is one of the main lakes of Akan National Park and is famous for its volcanically warmed sands. Visit Sunayu Onsen, a stretch of hot sand along the edge of Kussharo Lake. Continue to Akan Ko National Park for 2 nights at Akan-ko-onsen Hot Spring on the shores of Lake Akan-ko.
Stay 2 nights.

Distance and journey times:

Sounkyo to Lake Kussharo: 169 km, 3 hrs

Lake Kussharo to Akan-Ko: 56 km, 1 hr

Wild Hokkaido Fly Drive Image 9

Day 9: Akan-Ko Kohan Onsen

A full day to enjoy Akan National Park, with volcanic peaks, large caldera lakes, and dark forests. Stop at Lozan. Visit the First Observation Deck at Mashu Lake, created by the eruption of Mashu-dake Mountain. This crystal clear, magical lake in which the water level remains the same throughout the year is best viewed from the 1st vantage point.
The other must-see place is “Ainu Kotan”, the village of the Ainu, the indigenous people of Hokkaido.

Overnight in Akan-ko.

Wild Hokkaido Fly Drive Image 10

Day 10: Akan-Ko to Utoro Onsen Shiretoko

Head in a northerly direction until you reach the coast, then turn east towards the Shiretoko Peninsula. Enjoy the fantastic scenery through the Shiretoko Pass. Take a swim in the pool at the waterfall, Kamuiwakka-yu-no-taki before driving to your hotel.
Stay 2 nights.

Distance and journey time: 135 km, 2.30 hrs

Day 11: Utoro Onsen Shiretoko

A day to relax or to take a hike in the National Park. Or we recommend a day trip on the Shiretoko Aurora sightseeing boat. View steep, 200-metre cliffs, spectacular waterfalls that lead into the Sea of Okhotsk, and the colours of the Shiretoko mountain range.

Overnight.

Wild Hokkaido Fly Drive Image 12

Day 12: Utoro Onsen Shiretoko - Kushiro / departure

Follow the coastal route to Nemuro and Kushiro to visit the Japanese Crane Reserve. Spend the day at Kushiro Shitsugen National Park, the largest undeveloped wetland in Japan. Approx. 80% of the marsh is covered with grass and it is home to about 600 species of plants and 170 species of birds. In the winter season from October to March, you might have a chance to see a Japanese red-crowned crane, one of the protected species. Stop at the observation Deck at Kushiro Marsh (at sunset) to view the Kushiro River, different species of wildlife, Mt. Oakan-dake and Mt. Meakan-dake.
From the end of April to September, take a ride on the diesel locomotive called “Norokko-go” along the marsh route for a chance to appreciate the view at a slow pace.

Depart from Kushiro Airport.

Distance and journey times:
Shiretoko to Nemuro: 155 km, 2.30 hrs
Nemuro to Kushiro: 123 km, 2 hrs

Highlights

Akan National Park: stunning nature and abundant wildlife

Located to the east of the island of Hokkaido, the national park is an area of stunning natural beauty, particularly noted for the pristine majesty of its lakes.
Hike or cycle Lake Kussharo, a forbidding and darkly beautiful caldera lake 57km round, shrouded in fog.

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Hakodate: spectacular views

Located at the southern tip of Hokkaido, Hakodate is the island’s third city, and is celebrated for the quality and freshness of its seafood cuisine.
Explore on foot or by tram this charming port town, set between Mt Hakodate and the waters of the Tsugaru Straits

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Hokkaido: Japan's Wild Frontier

Hokkaido is a region of year round cultural festivals, and stunning natural beauty.

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Kushiro: red crowned cranes

Located on the Pacific coastline in Hokkaido’s south west, Kushiro is of both cultural and natural significance.
Explore the charming, narrow early 20th Century streets of this atmospheric, mist-shrouded seaport.

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Sapporo: setting for the Snow Festival

Host to the 1972 Winter Olympics, Sapporo is the largest city on the island of Hokkaido, and the setting for the fabulous annual Snow Festival. Take a photo beneath the iconic, 100 year old Sapporo City Clock

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Sounkyo: gateway to Daisetsuzan National Park

Located to the north of the Daisetsuzan National Park on the island of Hokkaido, Sounkyo is set dramatically within a wooded, steep sided gorge.

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Accommodation

Asahi-dake, Superior Class
Asahidake Manseikaku Hotel Bearmonte

Located conveniently for the Asahidake Ropeway aerial lift, the western-style mountain lodge is set at the base of Mt Asahi.

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Akan-ko National Park, Deluxe Class
Akan Yuku no Sato Tsuruga

Enjoying a stunning lakeside location, the property reflects faithfully, with regard to both architecture and design, it's idyllic natural setting.

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Hakodate, Superior Class
Yunokawa Prince Hotel Nagisatei

Set within an historic hot spring district dating to the 18th Century, the hotel enjoys views over Hakodate City and the Tsugaru Strait.

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Lake Toya, Superior Class
Lake View Toya Nonokaze Resort

Set idyllically at the water’s edge, the resort is located close to Toyako hot spring, and the Usuzan ropeway rising to the active volcano of Mt Usu.

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Sapporo, Superior Class
Sapporo Grand Hotel

Located a short walk from the city’s main attractions, this charming and historic property, one of Hokkaido’s first western-style buildings, dates to the 1930’s.

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Sounkyo Onsen, Standard Class
Sounkyo Choyotei

Set on a small hill, the hotel offers from its own onsen - or hot spring - stunning views to the facing cliffs.

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Utoro Onsen Shiretoko, Superior Class
Shiretoko Grand Hotel Kitakobushi

Located a short distance by road from Oshinkoshin Falls, and Mt Rausu, this luxury hotel enjoys fine views out over the Sea of Okhotsk.

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