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10 Summer Activities in Hokkaido
Ever wondered what happens when the snow melts?
With the snow slowly disappearing from the slopes and cherry blossum pictures taking up more of our feeds - summer (or "green season" if you prefer) - is on its way here in Hokkaido.
Places like Niseko, Rustusu and Furano are well known for their powder snow - but there's so much more to see in summer than you think. We know, we live here. Furano, for example, boasts some pretty famous (Instagrammable) sights and Rusutsu has it's own AMUSEMENT PARK!
To help make up your mind and convince you to join us this year, here are our 10 top picks for summer activities!
Niseko is a hot-spot for road cycling during summer, annually hosting Hokkaido's largest road race, the Niseko Classic. The mild temperatures and low humidity attracts cyclists from near and far. There are many different courses (and events) for everyone and the roads are wide and quiet.
For magnificent scenery and a relatively flat course, you can ride a loop around Mt. Yotei. For something more challenging, the Niseko Panorama line meanders through the mountains towards Iwanai, offering plenty of altitude change.
The Maples Niseko is the perfect accommodation base for cyclists during summer, given it's central location in Grand Hirafu. A huge benefit for hobbyists needing to rent gear, is the Rhythm rental pickup/drop-off point located inside the property. You can hire everything you require online and have it dropped off to you (and collected once you're finished with it).
Hiking and Walks
You've skied it a hundred times, but have you ever hiked Mt. Niseko-Annupuri? Accessible from the ski runs straight from Hirafu village, or via designated trails, you'll get spectacular views from the 1,308m peak. In fact the entire Niseko range offers a myriad of different trails and peaks to discover, with more than 10 peaks stretching from Niseko to Iwanai. Other popular mountains to scale are Chisenpuri, Iwaonupuri and Nitonpuri, which are backcountry goldmines in winter. In summer however, they present a whole set of new challenges and each have their own unique personality.
If you're looking for the ultimate challenge though, Mt. Yotei hiking season officially opens around June 13th. The 1,898m peak is the tallest in the area and is home to over 100 species of plants that bloom from early July through to August. It's important to be prepared for this hike though, as the weather can change quickly. We highly recommend hiring a guide for your first ascent.
Enjoy being a foodie
Niseko is the perfect location to enjoy the best of local Hokkaido produce. There are plenty of neighbouring towns and cities that have their own special dishes, showcasing the variety of food available during the warmer months. Iwanai (around a 30 minute drive from Hirafu), is known for its fresh seafood, with plenty of sushi and seafood restaurants to choose from.
Kutchan (10 minutes drive from Hirafu) and is known for growing some of the most amazing potatoes in the whole world. The famous 'Kutchan 540 potato' is unique to this region, a potato specially aged for 540 days in a controlled environment. The aging process has an incredible effect, making the end product sweeter over time. The Kutchan Potato Festival (Jagamatsuri) is hosted every year in early August, hosting a myriad of activities like rock climbing and win-a-prize games.
If you're planning a later stay in Niseko, the Autumn Food Festival is a great way to experience the local cuisine. Up to fifteen famous restaurants and bars showcase their special dishes and beverages using the freshest, seasonal produce.
BBQ with a view
Catch the last week of skiing at the top of Mt. Annupuri (lifts are set to close May 7th), explore Hirafu village or just sit back and enjoy the jacuzzi and BBQ from the Setsumon penthouse. Take in the views of the summer village from the top floor, enjoyed with family or friends in the warm weather.
Weather not the best?
Check out the climbing gym at the Niseko Adventure Centre, go rafting (you'll be getting wet anyway) or try Ice Cream making at the Niseko Outdoor Centre!
Our luxury property The Vale Rusutsu provides the perfect base for all summer activities in Rusutsu.
Rusutsu Amusement Park
The largest theme park in all of Hokkaido, Rusutsu Amusement Park opens for business this year on April 29th (perfect for a Golden Week getaway). Featuring 8 rollercoasters, "Kid's Land", a Ferris Wheel and plenty more thrill-inducing rides, it's the perfect day spent with the whole family. It even has an outdoor jumbo pool with slippery slides, perfect for a hot summer's day.
Time your stay perfectly to experience the Golden Week and Summer Vacation firework festivals, which are excellent ways to round off your day of thrill-seeking.
Rusutsu Resort Golf 72 consists of four 18-hole courses, making it an extremely popular venue during the warmer months. Each of the four courses are designed to highlight the natural terrain surrounding Rusutsu and provide magnificent views of Mt. Yotei in the distance. For the keen golfer, Tower Course which was designed by professional golfer Jumbo Ozaki, is an excellent challenge to test your skills.
The facility also has a Park Golf course and a driving range, great for beginners or practicing your technique. The opening season for golf is highly dependent on snow and weather conditions, but will normally occur around the start of May.
Rusutsu is a haven for sports enthusiasts over the warmer months, with plenty of facilities to entertain all guests. Take a trip down the Shiribetsu river in a canoe or raft to take in the picturesque natural landscape. You'll need to be brave to conquer the surging current. Or keep your feet dry and take to the water with some fly fishing, hunting for char and trout in the nearby fishing pond.
If you'd prefer to stay away from the water Rusutsu also has Tennis, horse riding, running trails and mountain biking which you can take advantage of. Take your pick from the many options and enjoy yourself outdoors in the wonderful environment of summer Hokkaido.
Furano is known for it's incredible flowers that bloom from spring through summer, with lavender being the most common. In fact it tends to be busier here in summer than in winter. Lavender has been cultivated in Hokkaido since the 1940's and since lower priced, imported lavender has made its way into the country, the demand has reduced. The local farmers shifted their main function from agricultural to being a tourist attraction, which is the main reason there are so many beautiful flowers to view in and around Furano.
You can also find plenty of other species of flowers, such as poppies, sunflowers, lupins, lilies and more in the area. It pays to have a vehicle if possible, so you can visit as many flower farms as possible. There are plenty scattered between Furano and Biei that you can visit while in the area.
Hokkai Heso Matsuri/Furano Belly button Festival
Located in central Hokkaido, Furano is known as the "belly button" of Hokkaido. The festival began in 1969 to strengthen the bonds of the people and is held annually, also celebrating the Hokushin Shrine (Heso "belly button" shrine). This shrine prays for life's love, birth, growth, health, happiness, thriving and peace.
The biggest attraction of the festival is the belly button dance competition, with over 4,000 dancers attending over a total of two days. Participants draw faces on their bellies and perform a unique style of dance through the city of Furano. You can join in on the fun for a small fee of ¥2,000, which includes all the gear necessary to fit in with the rest of the dancers.
There are is also plenty of food available for purchasing from local vendors who setup stalls. This is a great opportunity to try some of the local cuisine, which includes Furano curry, yakisoba and more.
Furano is also a hot-spot for fruit picking in the summer, with plenty of locations allowing you to collect the local fruits during harvest. This includes asparagus, digging for potatoes and picking strawberries or cherries from the local farms.
Furano Jam Garden takes this one step further, hosting jam making classes during the summer. Guests can join for a one hour session where they'll be taught how jam is made, allowing them a hands on experience to create their own jar. There are plenty of fruits to choose from as a base and participants get to make their own unique label for their creation. Upon completion you can take your special jam home to try with your favourite bread.
While Hokkaido is generally renowned for it's winter season, there are plenty of reasons why it is also a beautiful summer holiday destination. Whether you're looking for activities to do in the warmer climate, or wish to sit back and soak in the summer rays, Hokkaido has a destination for you.
Check out our accommodation options between Niseko, Rusutsu and Furano below for your next summer getaway!
Blaize is a photographer and content creator from Australia, having worked for our team during the 22/23 winter season. He has an extensive knowledge of the Niseko area, frequently visiting to enjoy the world-famous powder snow.
We invite all NISADE x The Luxe Nomad guests to join us at The Maples and The Vale on 25th December to celebrate he holiday season
Countdown to an unforgettable New Year's Eve in Niseko! Explore exclusive celebrations at The Vale and The Maples with NISADE's ultimate guide.