HOKKAIDO Prefecture

HOKKAIDO Prefecture北海道

Hokkaido is the name of one of Japan’s four main ilands and is the northern most. It holds approximately 20% of all land in Japan and the entire island is one prefecture. The population is around 5,500,000 with Sapporo at its capital at around 2 million people. Asahikawa is the only city that has a population larger that 300,000.

Hokkaido used to be called Ezo and was inhabited by Japan’s aboriginal tribes called Ainu. Development of the island began after 1868 and in 1869 the government at that time renamed it Hokkaido.

Blessed with relatively cool temperatures year around, its northern climate means the average temperature in January in Sapporo is around minus 4 degrees centigrade. The roads and sidewalks are often covered with snow and ice. Temperatures have dropped to minus 40 centigrade since records have been kept.

These cold temperatures make it a perfect place for winter sports. Over 100 skiing communities near Sapporo and Niseko are very popular and known. Not only can you enjoy the views of spectacular snow, it’s a must for snow sports lovers. The Sapporo Snow Festival takes place every year with large and small and elaborate snow and ice-carved statues lining streets and parks. Around 2.5 million people attend this festival every year.

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