Summer Paradise

My journey through Japan began from the north, and I made my way down as far as Hiroshima. The first stop in Hokkaido was a great introduction to Japan that was contrary to most preconceptions as this was Hokkaido in summer, but just before families from the rest of Japan would arrive due to the summer vacation period. For the most part, this was a road trip with several other friends and we rented a seven-seater car for a week.

Arriving in the evening at Sapporo airport, it was relatively late by the time that we picked up our vehicle and began driving to our first stop. Since this was the case, our first stop was an hours’ drive away – Lake Shikotsu. Lake Shikotsu is generally a quiet and less-travelled location as it is small and does not have much in the way of attractions aside from a view of the lake. One of the owners of the hostel welcomed us and gave us a brief introduction to the area – it is government protected, and thus little in the way of development can actually occur. It was a rather small and quiet town (nothing taller than two storeys at all!), and at eight in the evening, it was already dead quiet. All the shops had already closed, but the owner was nice enough to re-open one of his other businesses – a small café where he made us each a plate of Japanese curry. That said, it truly felt quite peaceful and detached, especially as our accommodation had traditional Japanese style rooms and a natural hot spring.

We made our way over to Lake Toya the next morning, where one of the lookout points offered an amazing panoramic view of the entire lake.

This photo does not do it justice.

There are plenty of Japanese mushrooms for sale in this area if that’s what interests you. Driving in Japan for the first time, there were various oddities we noticed – strange downward pointing arrows, and the fact that no one seemed to follow the absurdly low speed limits. Upon googling, we found out that the arrows were actually for the winter season when snow covers the roads so that drivers can tell where the road boundaries are. As for the speed limit, it seems as though residents drive up to 30 km/h above the posted speed limits, and speed cameras usually only care about an excess of around 30 km/h above the limit. It’s a strange system indeed, but it honestly does not make sense to travel at 40 km/h on a major countryside road that is non-residential.

The roads often have scenic lakeside views, or colourful floral views when away from the water.

After taking a look around the Lake Toya area, we headed for our accommodation in Noboribetsu where we would also see the nearby Hell Valley (Jigokudani), famed for its volcanic landscape that can appear to be like a scene from Hell. Something we only discovered from the posters in our accommodation was that there would be a local festival for the ‘demons’ held in Jigokudani that evening.

We also went around to various areas in Furano, Biei, and Otaru where there were many, many lavender and other flower fields, farms, and wineries. Melons and cherries are in season during summer, and melons are extremely popular (and expensive) here. It was very picturesque, and also incredible to see how much work goes into these flower fields as many of them are snow fields during winter, which means that the flowers must be replanted for every summer season. By the way, most things tend to bloom in summer, and peak season is when Japanese families visit in late July and August.

For the last part of our Hokkaido tour, we spent some time in Sapporo city. We were able to get some shopping done, and take a look around at the city’s attractions. We did an AirBnB stay at an apartment in the city which really made us feel at home in this city, though parking can become an issue.

Gotta try butter corn ramen while in Sapporo

This being my first time in Japan, it feels as though I’ve seen it through a different lens. There’s far more to it than novels or anime can show, and these photos are but one tiny aspect.

About zxzxzx

I'm a uni student who likes computers, anime, games, tennis and photography among other things. I often read LNs, manga or watch anime in my spare time if I'm not translating something. I'm also an IT technician, so I deal with a lot of corporate IT issues and general troubleshooting of PCs, networks, software, etc. I often also have delusions of grandeur as I dream of marvelous ways to assassinate every member of the Chinese and North Korean governments, and all other tyrants against freedom.
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10 Responses to Summer Paradise

  1. Ravel Guy says:

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    As someone who went to Japan and took TONS of pictures. No photo does it justice of how beautiful the country is.

  2. Deep says:

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    Fantastic that u got to see the virtual paradise that is Japan. I am hoping to visit some day too

  3. Myshak says:

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    good for you, dude! My first-time Japan was 2012 in May-June and we went all the way between Tokyo – Nagasaki couchsurfing. Have to say I got very similar experience. Now I’m planning to go next year again and spend at least a week at Hokkaido as well, rest doesn’t matter, maybe Tokyo and Kyoto/Nara again and if some time spared even Kyushu (need to see that Sora no Otoshimono sakura tree if possible). This time I’ll go during summer holidays as well since I must see some summer festivals

  4. Ayush says:

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    Nice 👍👍👍

  5. Anonymous says:

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    Come for the LN translations, stay for the comfy Japanese road trip chronicles

  6. kirindas says:

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    Very nice! I haven’t been to Hokkaido at all so everything looks very interesting. Most of my visits have been centered around Tokyo and Kyoto.

  7. gokugoku0011 says:

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    u really enjoyed it and i also hope to go there one day 🙂

  8. WyvernFrog says:

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    This is amazing!