Hearing about travel to Hokkaido, most of us will have an image of all-white beauty snow, thick jacket, or maybe skiing. But Hokkaido has many more attractions to enjoy especially in summer and autumn! Note that you can drive by yourself during these seasons as far as you have an international or Japan’s driving license, meanwhile you might not be able to drive during winter.
With the Go To Travel campaign that is planned to valid until January 31st, 2021, which is also can be used by foreign residents, you can experience domestic travel by saving up to 50%.
Located in the center of Hokkaido, the northernmost island in Japan which is also known as one of the regions with heavy snowfalls, Asahikawa is a quiet yet calming city even it is the second-largest city after Sapporo. The city is well known for its Asahiyama Zoo, one among Japan’s best and most popular zoos, great access to Furano and Biei, as well as its surprising snow mosque at Asahikawa Winter Festival.
How to Access
Asahikawa airport has domestic and international flights. Even in heavy snow, most flights will not cancel nor delay so you can enjoy your flight at ease. The airport is facilitated with prayer space.
What to Experience in Asahikawa city
Asahiyama Zoo is one of the most popular zoos in Japan specializing in cold climate species, from king penguin to arctic fox, which takes 25 mins to ride by car from Asahikawa station. The West entrance is the closest to the main areas with a crowded parking lot, so we recommend visiting the zoo right after it’s opening (09:30~17:15 in summer/autumn until mid-Oct, 09:30~16:30 in early winter in Mid Oct to the beginning of Nov, and 10:30~15:30 during winter in Mid Nov to the beginning of April). You will be needed to pay the entrance fee of 1,000 yen for adults and 900 yen/person on the group (free of charge for junior high school and below).
In the winter, you can see the penguin walk for a distance of 500m about 30-40 mins (sometimes an hour) above the snow.
For those who need assistance with a baby stroller, umbrella, wheelchair, and mobility scooter, the park loans them out for free, available at three entrances (central, west, and east). Disinfectant spray available nearby.
Ueno Farm (The Gnomes’ Garden)
Ueno Farm is an English-style garden full of beautiful flowers in the northeastern part of Asahikawa city. It has a Gnomes’ house in the middle of the garden. To enter the farm, you will be needed to pay an admission fee of 800 yen (the parking lot is free of charge).
What to Experience in Areas Surrounding Asahikawa city
Blue Pond (Biei)
Blue Pond is approximately an hour ride by car to the southeast of Asahikawa city. The Pond has a magical-look sight with clear blue water and dead silver trees, which the origin of Hokkaido. The blue color gets extremely clear in summer, decorate with a clear sky, white clouds, and green trees on the back. Recently the pond is illuminated in the winter.
There is a small souvenir shop right beside the pond and “michi no eki” (roadside station) 10 mins away from the pond to rest or shopping for souvenirs.
Farm Tomita is just 30 mins away by car from the Blue Pond. It is a popular lavender viewing spot in Hokkaido, especially in summer. Lavender usually starts blooming in late June and reaches its peak on around mid-July to early August. The farm has no entrance fee, which means no charge to enjoy the beautiful flower carpets, and it has cafes and shops that sell a wide range of Farm Tomita original lavender-themed products.
In autumn, you can still enjoy vivid celosia, marigold, etc with an autumn clear sky on the back.
Shikisai no Oka
Shikisai no Oka is at 20 mins ride from Blue Pond Biei, 25 mins ride from Farm Tomita, and 41 mins ride from Asahikawa station. It is a panoramic flower garden on the top of a hill, provides you a wide view of flower carpet to the beautiful hills to the horizon. No entrance fee to enjoy the garden instead of a donation of 200 yen at the entrance. You can enjoy the garden by walk or by a ride provided by paying some amount.
Halal Food in Asahikawa City
Located at 10 mins walk from Asahikawa station, there is a ramen shop “Ichikura” serving halal yet refreshing Okhotsk shoyu ramen, vegetarian ramen, and halal gyoza. Their main menu Okhotsk ramen attracted a number of Muslim consumers, while the vegetarian ramen called vegetarian consumers to enjoy ramen with fresh local foodstuffs.