Spotlight On: Hokkaido See-And-Do Lavender Tour 2023

Hokkaido is waiting!

FUN comes FIRST!

HIS Hawaii is happy to announce that our July 2023 Hokkaido See-And-Do Tour is here! With a special focus on activities and memorable interactions with local residents, this tour will take you to Japan in a way you’ve only imagined.

Fully guided and including 24 delicious meals, a FREE pocket WiFi router, and much more, our carefully crafted itinerary has everything from outdoor experiences like lake kayaking, park golf (an easy-to-play sport invented in Hokkaido!), and horseback riding to hands-on cultural activities like oshi-bana (handicrafts made with pressed flowers). You’ll pick fresh cherries and harvest succulent Furano melon, and even make your very own jar of jam from locally-grown fruit. And you’ll visit not one, not two, but THREE different lavender destinations! Full of spectacular wide-open natural vistas and featuring multiple nights at deluxe, relaxing onsen (hot springs) hotels, let’s discover why our tour is the perfect way to visit Hokkaido this summer.

Day 1 (July 6-7)

Our first day begins when we meet at Honolulu airport. After checking in our luggage and going through security, we’ll be able to enter the LeaLea Lounge, an HIS-exclusive privilege! Our lounge features beverages and light refreshments, as well as restrooms, WiFi, and comfortable seating. For more details please click here:

Beverages at the LeaLea Lounge

We will then board our Hawaiian Airlines direct flight to New Chitose Airport. The plane features in-flight entertainment at each seat, as well as two meals. Interested in upgrading to Extra Comfort seating? No problem! Just ask our staff when booking and we’ll be happy to explain the process.

Upon landing in Hokkaido we’ll pick up our luggage and move through the immigration checkpoint. Our local guide will be waiting for us as we exit, and after a quick orientation we’ll meet our bus driver, then transfer to a local restaurant for our first meal in Japan. Following dinner we’ll check in to our hotel (ANA Crowne Plaza Chitose or similar) and get some well-deserved rest after our day of travel.

Day 2 (July 8)

After partaking of a breakfast buffet at the hotel, we’ll head to Lake Shikotsu, one of the most transparent lakes in all of Japan.

Kayaking on crystal-clear Lake Shikotsu

Our kayaking experience begins with meeting the local guides who will help us choose proper equipment and then give us some pointers on paddling. Never kayaked before? Don’t worry! The lake is very calm and the distance moderate so it is perfect for beginners.

Our group getting a few tips before paddling out

After experiencing the beautiful waters we’ll pull into shore for a snack of tea and locally-baked sweets provided by our guides. On the way back we’ll make another stop and watch the guide catch freshwater shrimp for the group to try. They are quite the treat!

Cooking some freshwater shrimp
Group photo!

Following our lake experience, we’ll have lunch at a local restaurant and then head to Upopoy National Ainu Museum and Park. This is the first national institution dedicated to Hokkaido’s indigenous people, the Ainu. After being closed for several years due to extensive renovations, the Museum and Park reopened in 2020 and is now an important center for Ainu studies. Watch a promotional video here:

We’ll now start heading toward our next hotel in Rusutsu, stopping at Lake Toya along the way.

Lake Toya with Mt. Yotei in the background

With beautiful views of the Toya area and Mt. Yotei, Lake Hill Farm is a local dairy farm featuring homemade gelato. Try some and enjoy a taste of Hokkaido’s famous milk!

We’ll arrive at the Westin Hotel Rusutsu or similar hotel and enjoy a satisfying dinner. Rusutsu is an internationally-acclaimed ski resort during the winter, but it is also full of activities during the summer, as well as having soothing onsen baths. Relax in the hot waters before bed and sleep better than ever!

Day 3 (July 9)

After breakfast, we’ll start the morning off with one of Hokkaido’s more unique inventions: the sport of Park Golf! A combination of croquet and golf, it was invented in the town of Makubetsu during the early 1980s. It is especially designed to be accessible to players of all ages and skill levels. Just whack the ball and have fun!

A park golf ball and club

We’ll head to Fukidashi Park, where brilliantly clean spring water from Mt. Yotei gushes forth. Try filling your water bottle so you can enjoy the refreshing taste throughout the day.

That is some good water!

We’ll move to the town of Iwanai, on Hokkaido’s western coast, for lunch at a local restaurant. Following our meal we’ll drive north to the Shakotan peninsula and do some light hiking along the Cape Kamui trail. The path is very well maintained and easy to walk, while the scenery is breathtaking. Plus, there is soft cream waiting at the gift shop when you’re finished!

Heading out on Cape Kamui

To wrap up the afternoon we’ll visit an orchard in Yoichi and pick our own sweet, juicy cherries. The farm has several different varieties, so try each one and see which you prefer!

Delicious cherries!

Next is Otaru, one of Hokkaido’s most famous port cities, where we’ll have free time in the canal district to explore the myriad of shops. Otaru is known for its glassmaking, as well as its music box museum and confectionary shops. Wander around and see what catches your eye!

We’ll enjoy dinner than check in to Grand Park Otaru or similar hotel, which looks out directly onto Otaru’s harbor. Rest up after your fulfilling day!

Day 4 (July 10)

After breakfast (don’t miss the view from the dining room!) we’ll depart for Central Hokkaido. Along the way we’ll stop at Sunagawa Highway Oasis, a rest area that also has an extensive shopping area full of Hokkaido omiyage.

After a couple hours we’ll reach Flowerland Kamifurano, the first of our lavender destinations. Perched on a hill with views of the Tokachi mountain range, this flower farm makes for some colorful photographs.

Hokkaido’s famous lavender

We’ll also make keepsakes with oshi-bana, or pressed flowers. Choose your favorite colors and make your own design!

How will you decorate yours?

After lunch, we’ll drive to Biei’s picturesque aoi ike, or “blue pond.” It rose to prominence after being featured as a wallpaper on Apple computers and now is one of the region’s most iconic locations.

Striking colors at Biei’s Blue Pond

Up next is a very special location: Asahidake! This is the highest mountain in Hokkaido and is renowned for its snowfall during the winter. We’ll use a ropeway to reach the mountain’s midway point (no hiking required!) and even in July we may be able to see snowbanks alongside the maintained walking path. Keep an eye out for blooming alpine flowers!

Asahidake: snow in the summer!

After riding the ropeway back down we’ll move to Sounkyo Onsen and check into the Choyo Resort Hotel (or similar hotel). Sounkyo Onsen is one of Hokkaido’s premier hot springs destinations, so take some time to relax in the warming waters tonight.

Day 5 (July 11)

The morning begins with a quick photo visit to Ginga and Ryusei waterfalls. The names mean “Milky Way” and “Meteor,” respectively, and are thought to be “female” and “male” waterfalls, based on their appearance.

Next, we’ll travel to Naitai Highland, Japan’s largest public ranch. It is over 350 times the size of Tokyo Dome!

A few of Naitai Highland’s residents

The ranch is famous for its views of the pastureland spreading out below you, with cows and even wild deer roaming through the grass. Naitai Terrace, newly constructed in 2019, features a café with an array of food, drinks, soft serve ice cream made with local milk, a gift shop, and huge glass windows that showcase the splendid scenery.

After lunch we’ll drive to Obihiro, a regional city in the center of Hokkaido. It is home to several of Japan’s most famous confectionaries due to its location in the center of the Tokachi Plain, a premier agricultural location. We’ll visit a working farm and have a very special experience: picking (and eating!) fresh produce right out of the ground! A local guide will tell us all about the region’s agricultural history, and we’ll work with the farmer himself to learn proper harvesting techniques.

Fun in the field

In the early evening we’ll stroll through Manabe Conifer Garden, Japan’s first garden dedicated to conifer trees. Opened in 1966, walk through a variety of specimens and enjoy the tranquil atmosphere.

A stroll through the trees

We’ll now check into our hotel (Kangetsuen or similar) in Tokachigawa Onsen, a renowned hot springs destination that sits alongside the Tokachi River. This area sits atop a very rare “moor onsen,” a type of hot spring derived from plants. Called the Bijin-no-Yu, or “Beauty’s Hot Spring,” the waters have a wonderfully skin-moisturizing effect. A bath here is soothing for both body and mind.

Day 6 (July 12)

The Tokachi Plain, as a relatively flat region of significant size, is a rarity in mountainous Japan. Alongside its agricultural development, it has also become a center for horse racing and equestrian practice, and this morning we’ll visit the Hiroyuki Mochida Horsemanship Club for a hands-on experience with these beautiful, powerful creatures.

Learn to communicate with horses!

Here, we’ll learn the basics of how to walk with and lead these graceful animals, as well as try a short riding experience. Of course we’ll have instructors from the Horsemanship Club to show us how it’s done, and if time permits, we may watch a riding performance, too!

We’ll have lunch at a local restaurant and then spend the afternoon seeing several of the region’s unique omiyage destinations. First, we’ll stop at Ikeda Wine Castle, a viticulture research center that developed Tokachi wine from their locally-produced Kiyomi grapes. The center, housed in an imposing structure resembling a European castle, offers free wine and grape juice tasting, exhibits on wine making, as well as an array of products for purchase. For a more in-depth story about this area’s winery development, take a look at this great article:

We’ll make a quick stop at Happiness Dairy for some delicious ice cream made from the owners’ herd of 200 Holstein cattle. Try unusual flavors like Tokachi Brandy, Red Rhubarb, and Kabocha (Japanese pumpkin).

Deliciousness awaits

After this treat we will head to Ryugetsu Sweetpia Garden, the main branch of Ryugetsu Confectionary company. They are especially famous for “Sanpōroku,” a type of baumkuchen, or German rolled cake, baked into the shape of birch tree logs. In addition to the original flavor they often feature seasonal editions, so there’s always something new!

Ryugetsu’s yummy Sanpōroku (三方六)

Aside from this signature product there are many other sweets to peruse, plus tasty samples, a café, and an upstairs viewing area to watch the confections being made. Definitely look forward to this visit!

We’ll return to the hotel (Kangetsuen or similar hotel) a bit earlier than normal today, to let everyone rest and relax in the first-class onsen waters.

“Moor onsen” at Daiichi Hotel

Day 7 (July 13)

Departing the hotel, we’ll drive to Minamifurano and visit our second lavender destination: Lake Kanayama.

Lake & Lavender

This garden is located lakeside, a rarity for lavender farms, and offers gorgeous scenery as well as fewer crowds when compared with many other flower fields. Stroll around and enjoy the purple + blue expanse!

We’ll now move to the town of Furano, one of Hokkaido’s premier summer locations. After eating lunch at a local restaurant, we’ll visit Furano Jam, a producer of delicious fruit spreads created from the area’s produce. Here we’ll try our hand at making our own jars of jam to take home, plus try what we made on crunchy crackers! Plus, take a look at the many other flavors available for purchase in the gift shop.

Make your own jam!

After creating our jam it’s time for another special experience: picking famous Furano melon! You may have heard of Hokkaido’s “Yubari melon,” but Furano has its own special variety, too. Furano’s melons are characterized by a relatively high natural sugar content of around 15%, giving them a wonderfully sweet flavor, as well as moderately firm and crunchy interiors–they’re delicious!

A perfect summer refreshment

We’ll harvest our own melons and then enjoy their farm-fresh taste. For extra decadence, try soft cream atop your melon!

Finally, we’ll stop at Furano Cheese Factory, a local institution that features a wide variety of dairy products, from specialty cheeses, soft cream, cookies, and even small glass bottles of pure Furano milk. It’s a wonderful spot to shop for local omiyage, and of course, try some samples.

This evening we’ll stay at the New Furano Prince Hotel (or similar hotel), sitting at the foot of the Furano ski resort. A major winter destination, it offers luxurious accommodations during the summer months, as well. The onsen, called “Shisai no Yu,” which means “Purple-colored Hot Spring,” references the area’s extensive lavender fields and is brought up from over 1,000 meters beneath the surface.

Day 8 (July 14)

This morning we’ll first go to Farm Tomita, home to Hokkaido’s most famous lavender fields.

There is a lot to see!

By going in the morning we’ll avoid some of the crowds and be able to best explore the extensive grounds at our leisure. This destination has much more than just beautiful scenery, including a huge variety of lavender-scented items made from the farm’s flowers, lavender soft cream, lavender lemonade soda, and even lavender-flavored pastries. For lavender products, if you can imagine it, they probably have it!

Don’t miss the lavender soft cream!

We’ll have lunch at a local restaurant and then begin our drive back to Sapporo, making a rest stop along the way. Arriving in the city, we’ll check into Mercure Hotel Sapporo (or similar hotel), right in the heart of Susukino, the city’s main dining, entertainment, and shopping district.

After resting a bit, we’ll have an extra-special farewell dinner at a local restaurant. Sharing laughter and many smiles, we’ll reflect on the great experiences we’ve had as we savor a fantastic multi-course meal. Take your time and enjoy the evening!

Day 9 (July 15)

A full day of free time! Whether you’d like to go souvenir shopping, try a certain Japanese cuisine, or just want to walk around, you’re welcome to set your own schedule and have the day to yourself. Need suggestions? Just ask us and we’ll be more than happy to help!

No bus or guide on this day.

Day 10 (July 16)

You’ll have a free morning to do any last-minute exploring, and then we’ll all meet in the hotel lobby about mid-afternoon. Our local guide will come with us to New Chitose Airport, where we’ll check in and then have free time to look over the many shopping options that line the terminal.

Finally, we’ll board our direct flight on Hawaiian Airlines and arrive back in Honolulu about 8:30 am on July 16th. Pick up your luggage and head home with your new memories!

Thanks for joining us on this look at our HOKKAIDO SEE-AND-DO TOUR for July 2023. We hope to see you this summer!


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