Hokkaido: living Sakura

Hokkaido is the second largest island in Japan. The Tsugaru Strait separates it from the great island of Honshu although they remain united through the Seikan tunnel. The largest city of Hokkaido is Sapporo, its capital.

Hokkaido has several seasons for tourism: winter to enjoy its ski slopes, July to see the fields booming, or as in my case, early May to see the cherry blossom. Hokkaido is not the most popular or desired place to see the Sakura trees but I must admit it was worth it. There were hardly people, low season, pleasant temperature, sunny days, although sometimes the air rose with small rains. But it has been one of my best trips ever made alone along with my camera.
The time needed depends on how you are going to move around and if you are only going to see cities or not. In my case, were 8 days.
The chosen route was: 3 nights in Sapporo, 2 nights in Hakodate, 1 night in Sapporo (transit), 3 nights in Asahikawa. Maybe if you move by car you don’t need so much time, so it depends a lot on transportation
What places to see in Hokkaido no matter is Sakura season or not?

  1. Sapporo
    • Maruyama Park
    • Mount Moiwa
    • Nakajima Park
    • Sapporo TV Tower
  2. Otaru
    • Otaru Canal
    • Fukamizaka
    • Ryugu Shrine
    • Temiya Park 手宮公園
  3. Hakodate
    • Bay Area
    • Motomachi Park
    • Catholic Church Hakodate Motomachi
    • Hakodate Orthodox Church
    • Mount Hakodate
    • Cape Tachimach
    • Goryōkaku Park
  4. Asahikawa
    • Tokiwa Park
    • Asahikawa Forest Park
    • Furano & Biei


1. Walk at Maruyama Park

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/26Qk6gZSdjNipf5X6

Perfect place to walk and see its Shrines and highly recommended if you want to see Sakura trees! Great to spend a couple of hours and relax. To get here take the metro line Tozai to Maruyama Koen Station, exit 1

2. Go up to Mount Moiwa


Location: https://goo.gl/maps/nbZex9mefAA8wpsw6

If you visited Maruyama Park before, this small mountain is about 40 minutes walking distance or also accessible by tram.
The views from the top are incredible, you can see almost all Sapporo city.
To get here, you must take the tram to Ropeway Iriguchi and follow directions to the cable car to buy the ticket to the cable car. The cable car leads to two different destinations and the price of the ticket varies depending on each one. The first stop is Moiwa Chufuku Station and the second is Moiwa Sancho Station. Sancho Station can also be accessed by walking through a small path at the top of Chufuku Station.
During this season the queue to get the ticket was quite short!

3. Walk in Nakajima Park

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/ECrxgfTwKBwiMm7EA

Another park located in the city center for a walk or boat ride.

You can get to this park by metro Namboku line to Nakajimakoen Station or get off at Susukino Station and walk to enjoy its traditional streets.

Near this park there are hundreds of restaurants. You cannot miss to try the Miso Ramen, typical dish of Sapporo!

So if you are still around and it is time for lunch, this local restaurant is really great and is about 10 minutes walking distance from the park up to the North

Recommendation: https://goo.gl/maps/c7b2zPnD9S6DBuJA8

4. Enjoy the views from the top of Sapporo TV Tower

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/33XnwJCAuJWsAVie8

Famous TV tower built in the 1950s, with an observation deck offering panoramic views of the city.

To get here you can by subway Namboku, Toho or Tozai lines to Ōdōri Station.

Opens every day from 9am to 10pm


If you are staying in Sapporo, you can get to Otaru by train JR Hakodate Line departing from Sapporo Station. Cost: ¥740

1. Walk along Otaru Canal

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/H4J48gdA7JmrnZKd8

Perfect for a walk along its canal or boat ride. This canal runs through the entire town until almost reaching the Temiya park surrounded by bars, restaurants and shops.

From the Otaru Station you can reach here by walking

If you are looking for places to eat, there are some alleys near the canal that are quite popular! It is worth taking a look at the risk of queuing to get seated!

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/PYfdcKJMN8tXYPJC8


2. Visit the popular street of Fukamizaka

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/nEkrmvLV1RYYBh6u9

This street is quite popular for the Love Letter movie. Highly recommended to pass through here in winter with the snowy streets. The rest of the year you don’t see anything in particular

3. Visit Ryugu Shrine


Location: https://goo.gl/maps/wJBqi5eSdxM5MpP66

This Shrine is found only few meters away from Fukamizaka Street

4. Visit the Temiya Park 手宮公園

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/6tDD2PD2uH9vxB877

Personally, one of the pearls of Otaru and not so popular. The Sakura are incredibly beautiful in this park. To get here you have to walk along the canal and climb a hill. It takes roughly 30 minutes but it is totally worth it. From the top of the park there are views of Otaru and is full of picnic areas. Ideal place to come with family or couple or even for photography!


To get to Hakodate from Sapporo, you can take the JR Train from Sapporo Station or take a bus. The journey takes about 4-5 hours and reaches to Hakodate Station. The bus Station is right in front of the Train Station. You can get the train tickets directly from the vending machines or in case want to travel by bus you can book a bus ticket through this website. The buses are more affordable, provides big and comfortable seats and are individual! The seats are all separated from each other.

Once you arrive in Hakodate, is recommended to buy a ticket for 1 or 2 days for the tram. This would save us time and money when using this service, since the tram is quite traditional.

1. Stroll & eat at the Bay Area

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/8GXsE4Z8aTqAMiPY6

Popular place for food, snacking and stroll through the harbor. From here you can walk to the Midori no Shima park to have fantastic views of the Bay.

2. Walk to Motomachi Park

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/kmZQ8WK4DmJiweqKA

Popular place for its picturesque streets and houses/shops

3. Visit the Catholic Church Hakodate Motomachi


Location: https://goo.gl/maps/ERSWS1PcvH342MZD8

Small, historic Roman Catholic church featuring Gothic architecture & a bell tower.

4. Visit the Hakodate Orthodox Church


Location: https://goo.gl/maps/5VvmQot8VvaR9QiP9

Right next to the Catholic church is this circa-19th-century Russian Orthodox church with dramatic night lighting & a bell tower.

5. Go up to Mount Hakodate for Stunning Sunset


Location: https://goo.gl/maps/zEneqoSvFbsXhApJ9

Place that cannot be missed if you visit Hakodate. The views of the city are stunning. Is recommended to go up an hour or even more in advance before the sunset as it is incredibly crowded and barely are free spaces. You can buy tickets from the cable car station

6. Visit Cape Tachimachi for another stunning Sunset

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/zMuLBvUFqFKmfbti6

Very unpopular place among tourists and well known among locals, a hidden pearl! The place is quite remote but easily accessible by tram. To do this, get off at Jujigai Station in case your tram has no destination Yachigashira Station
Once you arrive at Yachigashira Station, walk about 15 minutes to here as shown in the image below.

Likewise, if hunger calls you, there is a Lawson next to Yachigashira station!


7. Walk in Goryōkaku Park & Go up to its Tower for 360 Views

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/Xt4qtJqqZ1PhXtph7

100% recommended place to enjoy a beautiful day in the park. The sakura trees here are amazing and cover practically the whole park.
It is also recommended to climb the park tower, as it offers fantastic 360º views of the area

To get here, just take the tram to Goryokaku-Koen-Mae Station and walk to the park. There are indications along the way.
And in case hunger calls again, there is a fantastic restaurant right next to the park called AJISAI. Normally it is always full but the queue is quite fast. Shio Ramen is the typical dish of Hakodate! Must try!



To get to Asahikawa from Sapporo, it is possible by JR train Lilac-Kamui (express train) at about ¥ 4,810. The journey takes about 2 hours and 15 minutes and the views from the train are amazing.
The final destination is Asahikawa Station, right next to it there is an AEON mall that will be your best friend if you are here for a couple of days.

Right in front of the mall is the busiest and most popular street in the area, full of restaurants, shops, cafes … impossible not to find food here!

This city doesn’t offer many things to visit but it’s a great area to visit Furano & Biei! If you do not have a car, the train is your best transportation and Asahikawa is the best place to stay and move around

1. Relax at Tokiwa Park

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/s7kUsLwrmnRZvD1f6

This spacious, serene park with 2 large ponds, swans & cherry blossoms is a popular place to walk.

2. Walk in Asahikawa Forest Park


Location: https://goo.gl/maps/1PoQyEbRsh4kpccC6

Ideal to spend a morning if you have no more plans to do. The sakura trees are really amazing at this park!

3. Explore Furano & Biei

If something is really worth seeing, it is Furano & Biei and their incredible fields and flowers. Although during the Sakura season the flower fields have not yet blossomed, the views and landscapes are really amazing.
To visit these two places by train, I would recommend visiting Furano first and not missing Tomita Farm. This farm offers beautiful lavender fields that bloom from June.


Location: https://goo.gl/maps/azbj2VstSSMUX1Va9

To get here, take the train and get off at Lavender-Farm Station or Naka-Furano Station. You can pay directly to the driver or buy tickets at Asahikawa and Furano station.


Location: https://goo.gl/maps/SmSQGt3J8eAdgFFCA

Once you finish watching Furano, take the train to Biei Station.
In this place there are several places to visit, such as Mild Seven Hills, Zerubu Hills or Hokusei-no-oka Observatory Park. To move around is recommended to rent electric bicycles or motorcycle/car. There is a rental shop right next to the station at this location.
If the night is not coming yet, I would recommend visiting Mild Seven Hills and Zerubu Hills. If you have lack of time as was my case, Mild Seven Hills is the perfect choice.

Along the road on the way to Mild Seven Hills there is a farm where you can taste very popular ice creams!


Mild Seven Hills offers several points with incredible landscapes. Simply walk or move around and enjoy the nature


5th Station: The unrevealed Scenery

Located in Mt Fuji (Japan), the Fuji Subaru Line 5th Station is the most popular station on Mt Fuji and the best developed. In this station you will find restaurants, shops, stunning views of Fuji Five Lakes and the starting point for those hikers and climbers. Yoshida and Ochudo trails start by this point

I could see a cozy atmosphere on this place during my visit despite the crowds found in the main point. Its trails won’t disappoint you, especially the quietness and foliage found in Ochudo trail which makes it worthy to be explored.


From Kawaguchiko Station, you may buy a round trip ticket at the ticket counter inside of the station at 2100 yen. The journey takes about one hour. The cost of one way trip is about 1540 yen


Arrived to 5th Station, there are several options to choose. The starting point offers a great view of Fuji Five Lakes. Probably will be super crowded as was in my case and will be really challenging to find a spot for a nice shot. Unfortunately, was very foggy and cloudy during my visit and barely could enjoy of a nice scenery


My “hike” started by Ochudo Trail trying to leave the crowds behind me and have a quiet walk. Despite the weather conditions were not good at all, the fog on this trail made the journey unique and gloomy. The air was very humid but really cooling and fresh

As walked through this trail, the weather was turning more foggy to the point of I couldn’t see the trail at all

Unfortunately due to the weather conditions, I had to turn around and explore the next trail, Yoshida.

Walking through Yoshida Trail, I faced the same problem but less fog intensity than Ochudo though.


After walking about 15 minutes, there is a clear spot to take nice shots of the scenery. Only few seconds were needed for the clouds to cover again these great views


Sadly and due to this weather inconveniences, I left with a bad taste of not having a chance to see these stunning views, leaving the 5th Station as an unrevealed scenery.



Yoyogi Park

Yoyogi Park (代々木公園, Yoyogi Kōen) is a park in Shibuya and one of the largest parks in Tokyo (Japan). It’s a perfect place for outdoor activities, picnics, jogging or simply a relaxing walk

Located right next to Meiji Shrine, worth to visit this park after visiting Meiji Shrine, since the sightseeing of this park will take a while. You may click here for a brief guide of Meiji Shrine


Whether you have visited Meiji Shrine, just continue walking through the park and you will spot the entrance right next to the Meiji Shrine entry


As personal suggestion, no worth to go there exclusively to visit the park unless you have more plans within the area. Tokyo awaits to be explored with more exciting places than a park!


During my visit, there were a food market near the entrance crossing the street and I had the chance to try some traditional food and snacks. However, it’s a bit touristy-focused and I bet you may find better places out of this park.


Continuing walking and crossing back the street, you may spot the park. Total freedom for a walk


  • Location: Yoyogi park 代々木公園 @ Shibuya distric
  • Transportation: JR Yamanote Line to Harajuku Subway Station
  • Time spent: 1 hour + 1 hour in the market
  • Season: End of September
  • Score: 7.5/10

Chureito Pagoda: Stairways to the Heaven

Chureito Pagoda 忠霊塔 (Japan) is a pagoda on a mountainside with Mount Fuji & Fujiyoshida City views that was built in 1963 as a peace memorial being part of the Arakura Sengen Shrine

The location offers stunning views of Mt Fuji and Fujiyoshida from the top of the mountain after climbing up its 400 steps


From Kawaguchiko Station, you can take the Fujikyu Railway Line to Shimo-Yoshida Station at 300 yen. The journey takes about 10 minutes by train.


Arakura Sengen Shrine is about 10-15 minutes walking distance from Shimoyoshida Station. There are indications on the way, so it’s hard to get lost.



On the way to Arakura Sengen, you may have a walk by the town. I found really beautiful its streets and views. Worth to spend 15 minutes strolling around


Once arrived to Arakura Sengen, you may follow the stairs to the pagoda. During the climbing, there are some photo spots located on the right side. From these spots you will have awesome views of the city and Mt Fuji, but not as beautiful as the top of the mountain though.

Views of Mt Fuji from one of these spots


On the way up, you may find several spots from the stairs. Worth to keep looking behind to don’t miss any chance since the combination of the Mt Fuji + vegetation offers a great composition

Once arrived to the pagoda after 10 minutes of walk, simply follow the road located on the right side to reach to the top for a better views of the area

Finally on the top, one of the most beautiful views of Fuji will be spotted right behind of the pagoda

I hope this little guide has been helpful and you have enjoyed of this wonderful place


  • Location: Chureito Pagoda 忠霊塔 @ Arakura Sengen, Fujiyoshida
  • Transportation: Fujikyu Railway Line to Shimo-Yoshida Station
  • Time spent: 4 hours
  • Weather conditions: Sunny. However, was cloudy and with showers the rest of the days.
  • Season: Early October
  • Score: 10/10


Meiji Shrine: the spiritual path

Located in Shibuya, Tokyo (Japan), Meiji Shrine 明治神宮 (Meiji Jingū) is a shrine dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and his wife. This significant shrine was destroyed during the Second World War and rebuilt thereafter.


You can take the JR Yamanote Line and alight at Harajuku Station. The main entrance is at 1-2 minutes walking distance from the Subway Station



Arrived to the main entrance, you may take any of the 3 directions to start the walk. The main shrine buildings is about 10-15 minutes walking distance from Harajuku Station.

As suggestion, worth to spend additional time having a relaxing walk for nice photos and enjoy the nature

The main shrines are right together each other, Meiji Shrine Kyakuden, Shinto Shrine, Meiji Jingu, Meiji Jingu Honden & Meiji Shrine Kaguraden

On my visit I had the luck to see by my own eyes a traditional Japanese wedding. Really beautiful and photogenic

The visit may be a little short, but you may complete the journey by going to Yoyogi park that is located within the same park. Just quitting the Meiji Jingu gardens, can continue walking from the main entrance next to Harajuku Station towards Yoyogi Park as indicates in the map below



  • Location: Meiji Shrine 明治神宮 @ Shibuya district
  • Transportation chose: JR Yamanote Line to Harajuku Subway Station
  • Time spent: 3 hours
  • Season: End of September
  • Score: 8/10

Senso-ji temple: the goddess of Kannon

Senso-ji 金龍山浅草寺 is an ancient Buddhist temple located in Asakusa, Tokyo (Japan). It’s one of the most popular temples in Tokyo, hence one of the most crowded. I’d recommend you to visit this beautiful and colorful temple early in the morning for a better sightseeing and photos.


You can get to Senso-ji temple by taking the Ginza Subway Line and alighting in Asakusa Station from your current position



Once crossed the main gates, you will face a shopping street which leads from the main gates to the next gates right in front. Along this shopping street, you may find typical Japanese souvenirs and traditional snacks in the Nakamise-dōri 仲見世通り. As curious fact, if you buy some snacks, you must eat it at the same shop! Is not allowed eating snacks during your walking

Continuing walking straight ahead, you will reach to the second gate

Surroundings from the second gate.

Ending up the temple’s sightseeing, you may lead towards the shopping mall next to temple and its streets. Strolling around this area you may discover traditional restaurants, beautiful street decorations and ton of shops. Worth to spend half day!

The streets around the temple are full of shopping/souvenirs malls whether you’re thinking to buy some souvenirs for family/friends. From anime toys to electronic products and medicines. The time spent there may be really worthy

In short, Senso-ji temple can’t be missed of your trip to Tokyo despite its crowds. You can easily spend half day there and enjoy of an amazing walk and shopping.

Tip: during my strolling, I found a very traditional Ramen restaurant which I marked below in the map. On the area you may find many restaurants, but most of them are tourist-made. Enjoy typical local food is not easy to find within this area. Worth to have a try!



  • Location: Sensoji temple 金龍山浅草寺@ Asakusa district
  • Transportation chosen: Ginza Line @ Asakusa Station
  • Time spent: 4 hours + lunch
  • Score: 8.5/10