Japan’s northernmost island is a skier’s paradise, but its natural beauty is worth exploring throughout the year. Scott Gilman of JapanQuest Journeys, a member of the T+L A-List of top travel advisors, created the following tour, which he can book for you. From $1,800 per person per day.
From Tokyo, take a 90-minute flight to Hokkaido’s Kushiro Airport. Book your return flight from the rural Nakashibetsu Airport.
Check in to Hazel Grouse Manor, a 90-minute drive from Kushiro Airport. The hotel, a Georgian home with a French restaurant, is near Kushiro Shitsugen National Park, Japan’s largest wetland. The region is home to approximately 1,000 Japanese cranes, once thought to be extinct. Get a closer view of the graceful birds at research centers and feeding stations throughout the park.
Visit Akan Mashu National Park. Lake Mashu is famous for its clear water, and while you can only view it from a distance, it makes for sublime sightseeing. Nearby Lake Kussharo offers swimming and kayaking. At Iozan, an active volcano, buy eggs cooked by the heat of the mountain.
Drive 2.5 hours to remote Shiretoko National Park, located on a long peninsula on the northeastern corner of the island. Nature trails in the rugged landscape pass dramatic waterfalls and provide views of a chain of five small, pristine lakes.
Stop at Kaiyodai Observatory for a panorama of the surrounding countryside before a flight from Nakashibetsu Airport back to Tokyo.