Hokkaido's mountainous park and forests lend themselves nicely to outdoor activities, and there are excellent seasonal activities offered throughout the year. The winter season lasts from November to March, when the activity focus shifts to snow-based sports.
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.