The most popular form of entertainment in Hokkaido is skiing, a sport that has enjoyed a golden age here since the Winter Olympics of 1972. The world-class facilities that were built at this time host tourists within easy reach of Hokkaido's capital city.
In the summer, tourists spend time exploring nature. Hiking trails traverse the mountains of Hokkaido, providing access to hot springs, rivers and clear mountain lakes. This is also a good time to visit local theme parks, most of which celebrate Hokkaido's wild frontier image with historical reenactments.
Sapporo hosted the Winter Olympics in 1972 and has been a world-class ski destination ever since. The season officially begins in November and lasts into May. Resorts and lodges are found in higher elevations, especially at Mt Moiwa, where skiers enjoy views over Sapporo.
The abundant parkland in Hokkaido is ideal for hiking during the summer months. Trails access many of the island's higher peaks, with hikers enjoying excellent scenery along the way. Travel agencies in Sapporo can arrange guided tours that focus on specific attractions.
Some of the historic architecture in Pioneer Village is original, while other portions have been dutifully rebuilt. This adds credibility to onsite reenactments that explore the farming, fishing and cultural habits of 19th-century Hokkaido pioneers. The park is outside of Sapporo, and to get in visitors must board horse-drawn snow sleighs or carts depending on the season.
This theme park rates well with Hokkaido's younger visitors. Located in Noboribetsu, Edo Wonderland is full of historic recreations and reenactments. It has more to offer Japanese visitors, but international tourists (especially families with children) are likely to enjoy the ninja reenactments along the option for people-watching.
Another attraction in Noboribetsu resort community, Marine Park puts on a grand production. The faux castles look like they were shipped in straight from Denmark, while the onsite aquariums seize young visitors' imaginations with sharks, giant manta rays, sea turtles and dolphins.
This is another popular winter activity that doubles as a great way to see the backcountry. Tour packages are sold in Sapporo and other major towns across the countryside, and first-timers are briefed with an informative orientation course that will help them get started. The season coincides roughly with the ski season (November to May).
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