When to Go

Hokkaido has Japan's most dramatic seasons. Summer lasts from May to September; January to March means lots of snowfall. From late April to mid-May, Hokkaido offers Japan’s last sakura (cherry blossoms), as well as a fireworks display of spring flowers all at once. May to September offers perfectly temperate summer weather (except for a sometimes wet July). Hotel rooms can be more difficult to book in summer, and many scenic areas get crowded with tour groups and Japanese families. Avoid the middle of August, when Hokkaido and the rest of Japan celebrates Obon homecoming and travel prices spike. Late September ushers in brief but spectacular golden foliage, peaking in early October. The periods from November to December and late March to April offer predominately chilly drizzle. Winter makes travel more difficult (some minor roads and attractions are closed), but Hokkaido is no less beautiful, with snow covering everything in ever-freshened mounds of white. Early February offers the unmissable Sapporo Snow Festival.

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