July 15, 2016
Travelling Hokkaido with the family end of June was a wonderful opportunity to escape from the Tokyo heat and humidity and to spend a week in decent summer temperatures. Arriving in Sapporo by plane, we spent a day exploring the city and then went on heading east across the island to the lakes Kussharo and Mashu. On our way back to Sapporo we stopped over at lake Akan.
Having heard nothing but praise about Hokkaido’s exceptional beauty, our expectations were quite high. Imagine a mixture of Brittany, Eiffel and Allgäu and you pretty much get what we have seen of Hokkaido! I think the most amazing things are the wide open space and the deep green of the vegetation. Endless plains, green hills and fields and very few settlements. The many active and inactive volcanoes make a spectacular skyline.
Travelling outside of the Kanto region in an area that is less prepared to receive non-Japanese tourists, also comes with some challenges. Food is generally not available around the clock. Restaurants do stick more strictly to the opening hours. There is no coffee shop, 7/11 or family mart at every corner. Menus are not available in English. Finding an ATM can take a while. People hardly speak any English – even though we had some pleasant surprises!
Despite the above, we had a great time and felt welcome anywhere we went. Everybody tried their best to speak slowly, so most of the time we got along nicely.
I don’t know what it is with the choice of our hotels. As in Nikko, we ended up in hotels with a general wake-up call at 7 am! In Kawayu Onsen as well as at Lake Akan, we could not ignore the loud speaker announcements informing us about the breakfast hours. I have to ask someone Japanese why this is the case. In times of mobile phones everyone is able to set their personal alarm – so why waking up everyone?