Asahikawa Travel Guide: Top 33 Things to Do in Asahikawa, Japan

Tucked away in the heart of Hokkaido, the northernmost island of Japan, lies Asahikawa – a gem of a city that effortlessly weaves nature, culture, and urban charm into a seamless tapestry. With its long snowy winters and pleasantly mild summers, Asahikawa invites travelers year-round, promising a variety of experiences that range from snow-sculpted landscapes to cultural festivals and authentic Japanese cuisine. This introduction aims to offer a comprehensive glimpse into this remarkable city, and what it holds for those who set foot upon its terrains.

Geography and Climate

Situated almost centrally in Hokkaido, Asahikawa is the island’s second-largest city after Sapporo. Surrounded by mountains such as the majestic Daisetsuzan range, Asahikawa acts as a gateway for many adventurous souls yearning to explore the rugged landscapes of Hokkaido. The Ishikari River, one of the most significant rivers in Hokkaido, flows gracefully through the city, adding to its picturesque nature.

The climate is predominantly continental, which means cold winters with substantial snowfall and warm summers. Travelers visiting in winter are often treated to a frosty wonderland, while summer promises verdant landscapes and the blooming of a variety of flora.

Culture and Festivals

Asahikawa, like much of Japan, takes great pride in its festivals. Among its most renowned is the Asahikawa Winter Festival, an event that draws visitors from around the world. Here, artistry takes the form of giant snow sculptures and intricate ice carvings. At night, these masterpieces are illuminated, casting a magical glow over the city.

Additionally, there’s the Otokoyama Sake Festival, celebrating Asahikawa’s rich tradition of sake brewing. Otokoyama, a renowned sake brand, originates from this city. It’s an opportunity for visitors to taste premium sake and learn about its meticulous production process.

Asahikawa cherry blossom views in Japan

Culinary Delights

The gastronomic scene in Asahikawa is as diverse as it is delicious. Known especially for its ramen, Asahikawa offers a unique, soy sauce-based broth that is a must-try for noodle enthusiasts. Additionally, its proximity to pristine waters means seafood, particularly sushi and sashimi, is of the highest quality.

Not to forget, the dairy products here, thanks to the vast pastures of Hokkaido, are some of the best in Japan. Soft-serve ice creams and cheese tarts from this region often leave visitors craving for more.

Nature and Activities

For those with a penchant for the outdoors, Asahikawa doesn’t disappoint. The Asahikawa Zoo, one of the most popular zoos in Japan, offers a unique chance to observe wildlife in environments closely resembling their natural habitats. The adjacent Daisetsuzan National Park beckons with its hot springs, hiking trails, and skiing opportunities. Whether you’re keen on soaking in an onsen (hot spring) or challenging yourself with a mountain climb, Asahikawa is the perfect base.

In essence, Asahikawa is more than just a city in Hokkaido. It’s a blend of the modern and the traditional, the wild and the serene. Whether you’re an intrepid explorer or someone looking for a cultural immersion, Asahikawa welcomes you with open arms and promises an unforgettable experience. Dive deep, and discover the myriad wonders that await.

Asahikawa Travel Guide: Things to do in Asahikawa, Japan

Asahikawa City Guide: A Brief History Of Asahikawa, Japan

Asahikawa, nestled in the heart of Hokkaido, Japan’s northern frontier, has a rich tapestry of history that tells the story of resilience, adaptation, and cultural amalgamation. Unlike the ancient cities of Japan’s main island, Honshu, Asahikawa’s historical narrative is closely tied to the development of Hokkaido in the modern era, the indomitable spirit of its people, and their deep connection with the natural world. Let’s delve into the historical chapters that have shaped Asahikawa into the city it is today.

From Indigenous Roots to Modern Foundations

The Ainu Legacy

Before Asahikawa emerged on the map, the land was inhabited by the Ainu, Hokkaido’s indigenous people. Their profound respect for nature and remarkable craftsmanship laid the spiritual and cultural groundwork of the region. The Ainu’s harmonious relationship with the land, rivers, and forests around Asahikawa is a thread that still weaves through the city’s ethos, reminding us of the deep-rooted connection to the Earth that predates modern settlement.

The Birth of Asahikawa

The modern city of Asahikawa was officially established in 1890, marking a pivotal moment in Hokkaido’s development. Initially set up as a military outpost to assert control over the island, it soon became a vital rail junction, connecting the interior with the coast. This strategic position fueled its growth, transforming it from a frontier town into a thriving center of commerce and trade.

The Era of Growth and Development

The Economic Boom

Asahikawa’s economic landscape was profoundly shaped by its geographical setting. Surrounded by rich forests, it became a leading center for timber and woodcraft industries. The city’s craftsmen were renowned for their skill, producing goods that were integral to Hokkaido’s burgeoning economy. Agriculture also flourished in the fertile plains around the city, further anchoring Asahikawa’s role in the region’s development.

Wartime and Recovery

The early 20th century brought challenges and changes, with Asahikawa playing a significant role during wartime efforts, owing to its strategic location and industries. Post-war, the city focused on rebuilding and modernization, leading to a resurgence in its economy and an increase in population. This period of recovery was marked by resilience and a collective effort to restore Asahikawa’s vibrant community and economic strength.

Cultural Flourishing

A Center for Education and Culture

The post-war era also saw Asahikawa emerge as a cultural and educational hub in Hokkaido. Universities, museums, and cultural institutions were established, drawing intellectuals, artists, and students to the city. This influx of ideas and creativity enriched Asahikawa’s cultural landscape, making it a place where tradition and modernity coexist harmoniously.

Embracing the Future

Today, Asahikawa honors its history while looking forward to the future. It stands as a testament to the enduring spirit of its people and their ability to adapt and thrive in the face of challenges. The city’s history—from its Ainu roots to its role in Hokkaido’s development, and its cultural renaissance—paints a picture of a community deeply connected to its past yet always moving forward.

Asahikawa winter snowy rooftop views of colorful homes in Japan

Asahikawa Top Attractions and Best Places to Visit in Japan

Located in the interior of Hokkaido about 85 miles away from Sapporo, Asahikawa is the coldest city in Japan. It set the cold temperature record in the country (-41c) in 1902, and is regularly among the most frigid spots in the nation every winter.

As unappealing as this sounds, though, it has forced the citizens to adapt in a way that makes it an incredible winter city. Its ramen scene is among the most robust in Japan, the frontcountry and backcountry skiing on nearby mountains is excellent, and its winter festival, while overshadowed by big brother Sapporo, is world class.

It also has plenty to see in summer, as sights like the Ueno Farm will delight those who enjoy stylish gardens.

Where To Begin?

Begin your time in this northern Japanese metropolis by learning about its past at the Asahikawa City Museum. Spread over two floors, its exhibits not only discusses the history of the city, but it also tells the story of the Ainu people, who have lived in this region since prehistoric times.

Although the museum’s displays are mostly done in Japanese, Google Translate can help you bridge the communication gap with its real-time translation functionality. With an admission fee of only 300 yen, it is also a cost-effective attraction, so don’t miss it if you are on a backpacker budget.

Apart from being known as the coldest city in Japan, Asahikawa is also revered for being the source of some of this nation’s best sake. Learn more about this rice-based liquor during a visit to the Otokoyama Sakezukuri Museum.

Located on the property of a well-loved sake brand that has made this product for over 340 years, you will be walked through the distilling and brewing process that goes into creating this liquor. As you head from one station to the next, you’ll sample the high-quality water that led the founders to establish this distillery in the first place, and at the end, you’ll get to sample the finished product.

More Attractions

If you want to sample, though, make sure you arrive here via a tour or by public transportation of some kind, as drivers are banned from consumption due to societal attitudes that are squarely against drunk driving.

Get acquainted with one of Japan’s better-known authors by spending some time at the Ayako Miura Literature Museum. Asahikawa was her hometown – its natural beauty and bone-chilling winters inspired many of her works, including the novel, Melting Point.

With many of her works adapted into films, she had a considerable impact on the writing and arts scene in Japan throughout her life. In the museum dedicated to her, you’ll learn about the titles she wrote throughout her life, as well as other incidental details about her life.

If you are visiting Asahikawa during the winter months, don’t let the cold get you down. Instead, embrace it wholeheartedly by attending the Asahikawa Winter Festival. While it is not as big as the Sapporo Snow Festival 85 miles away, it makes up for its smaller footprint by commissioning the building of an absolutely gigantic centrepiece snow sculpture each year.

One of these creations claimed the Guinness World Book of Records title for the world’s biggest snow sculpture in 1994. Each year, a different theme changes up what is made here, and with coloured lights illuminating these works by night, they are a truly amazing sight to behold.

Asahikawa traditional Japanese bridge in a rural green area of Japan

Other Cultural Attractions: Trip to Asahikawa, Japan

As noted above, Asahikawa embraces the fact it is a winter city. No attraction hammers this point home quite like the Snow Crystal Museum. As the name suggests, its theme is solely centred around snowflakes.

While this may not be the most riveting topic for some, those with inquisitive minds will enjoy the ice columns, the snowflake-themed art contained within, and the overall decor of this cozy museum.

If you are travelling through Hokkaido as a family, spending an afternoon at the Asahiyama Zoo will prove to be time well spent. Unquestionably, the penguins are the star attraction here, as visitors will get the chance to walk through a glass tunnel built beneath their holding tank.

Other Attractions

Additionally, there are glass domes within the polar bear and wolf enclosures that permit visitors to get up close and personal with these creatures in a safe manner. With a mix of animals endemic to Hokkaido and from around the world, it is a wonderful place to bring the kids.

If you are visiting during the warmer months of the year, ensure that a trip to the Ueno Farm is on your schedule. A gem situated in the countryside just outside Asahikawa, it makes use of English-style gardening to show off over 200 different kinds of flowers.

In addition to the various gardens found on this property, there is also an on-site restaurant and an ice cream stand, making this spot a delightful place to spend a summer afternoon.

If you need a break while touring around Asahikawa, rest on a bench found within Tokiwa Park. A beloved city park located within walking distance of the state art gallery downtown, it is home to the winter festival and other events throughout the year.

The rest of the time, it is a popular place to exercise or simply relax.

source: Top Tourist Places on YouTube

Top 33 Things To Do in Asahikawa, Japan For Visitors

Asahikawa, a city rich in cultural diversity, stunning landscapes, and culinary delights, promises a trove of experiences. Let’s dive deep into the top 33 things you can indulge in during your visit:

Asahikawa rice fields in Japan

1. Asahikawa Winter Festival

The Asahikawa Winter Festival is renowned for its massive snow sculptures and ice art displays. This event attracts artists and visitors from around the world to celebrate the beauty and creativity of winter. The festival also features live music, traditional performances, and delicious local food. It’s a must-see for anyone visiting Asahikawa in February.

2. Asahiyama Zoo

Asahiyama Zoo is famous for its unique enclosures designed to showcase animals’ natural behaviors. Visitors can observe penguins “flying” underwater, wolves howling, and snow leopards climbing. The zoo’s commitment to conservation and education makes it a great place for families. It’s especially magical in winter when snow blankets the grounds.

3. Otokoyama Sake Brewery Museum

Learn about the traditional art of sake brewing at the Otokoyama Sake Brewery Museum. Visitors can tour the facility, taste various sakes, and learn about the brewery’s history dating back to the 17th century. The museum also offers beautiful views of the Taisetsu mountains. Don’t forget to pick up a bottle of their award-winning sake as a souvenir.

4. Asahikawa Ramen Village

Asahikawa is famous for its rich, soy sauce-based ramen. The Asahikawa Ramen Village is a one-stop destination to taste ramen from eight different popular ramen shops. Each shop offers its unique twist on the local delicacy. It’s a food lover’s paradise, providing a warm welcome on a cold day.

5. Daisetsuzan National Park

Daisetsuzan, Japan’s largest national park, offers breathtaking landscapes, hot springs, and hiking trails. It’s an ideal spot for outdoor enthusiasts looking to explore Hokkaido’s untouched wilderness. Visitors can enjoy activities like hiking, bird watching, and skiing in the winter. The park’s natural beauty changes dramatically with the seasons, making it a year-round destination.

6. Snow Crystal Museum

The Snow Crystal Museum, resembling a European castle, showcases the delicate beauty of snowflakes. It features a gallery of microscopic snow crystal photographs, art exhibits, and a room where snow falls year-round. The museum provides a serene environment to appreciate the intricate designs of snowflakes. It’s a unique experience that highlights the natural beauty of winter.

7. Kamikawa Shrine

Kamikawa Shrine, nestled amidst lush greenery, offers a peaceful retreat within the city. This Shinto shrine is known for its traditional architecture and tranquil atmosphere. Visitors come here to pray, relax, and occasionally catch cultural festivals and ceremonies. The surrounding park is particularly beautiful in the fall when the leaves change colors.

8. Blue Pond (Aoiike)

Though a bit outside Asahikawa, the Blue Pond is a stunning natural wonder worth visiting. Its vibrant blue color, caused by natural minerals, changes shades depending on the weather and season. The pond, surrounded by forests, offers a picturesque setting for photography. It gained fame after being featured as a wallpaper in Apple’s macOS.

9. Asahikawa Furniture Street

Asahikawa is known for its high-quality wooden furniture, and the Furniture Street is the best place to explore this craft. The street is lined with showrooms displaying locally made furniture that combines traditional techniques with modern design. Visitors can learn about the woodworking process and even purchase custom pieces. It’s a unique shopping experience that showcases the city’s artistic side.

10. Kaguraoka Park

Kaguraoka Park, with its panoramic views of the city and surrounding mountains, is a favorite spot for locals and tourists alike. The park is home to over 4,000 cherry trees, making it a spectacular sight in spring. It also features walking paths, a playground, and an observation deck. The night view of Asahikawa from the park is particularly stunning.

11. Asahikawa City Museum

The Asahikawa City Museum offers insights into the region’s history, culture, and natural environment. Exhibits cover everything from the indigenous Ainu people to the development of Asahikawa as a city. The museum also features a planetarium, where visitors can learn about the stars and northern lights. It’s an educational visit for those interested in learning more about Hokkaido’s diverse heritage.

12. Higashikagura Forest Park

Higashikagura Forest Park is a vast area perfect for outdoor activities like hiking, cycling, and picnicking. In winter, the park transforms into a popular spot for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Its natural beauty and array of activities make it a great place for families to spend a day. The park also hosts various events and festivals throughout the year.

13. Tokiwa Park

Tokiwa Park is an urban oasis featuring Japanese gardens, a greenhouse, and a pond with swan boats. The park is a beautiful spot for a leisurely walk or a family outing, with playgrounds and sports facilities. Seasonal flowers and foliage provide a colorful backdrop year-round. The annual winter illumination event transforms the park into a magical nighttime landscape.

14. Sutaruhin Stadium

Sutaruhin Stadium is a hub for sports enthusiasts, hosting baseball games, athletic events, and cultural festivals. The stadium is home to the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters’ farm team and offers a chance to catch exciting baseball action. It’s also a venue for various community events, providing a glimpse into local life. Visitors can enjoy the lively atmosphere and cheer along with passionate fans.

15. Art Hotel Asahikawa

Art Hotel Asahikawa, besides offering comfortable accommodations, doubles as an art gallery. The hotel showcases works by local artists throughout its public spaces. It’s a unique stay experience that art lovers will appreciate. The hotel also provides easy access to many of Asahikawa’s attractions.

16. Asahikawa Science Center

The Asahikawa Science Center, with its planetarium and interactive exhibits, makes learning fun for visitors of all ages. The center’s hands-on approach encourages curiosity about science, technology, and the universe. Special workshops and live demonstrations are held regularly. It’s an educational and entertaining destination, especially for families with children.

17. Shopping at AEON Mall Asahikawa Station

AEON Mall Asahikawa Station is the city’s premier shopping destination, offering a wide range of retail stores, restaurants, and entertainment options. From fashion to electronics, local souvenirs to international brands, the mall has something for everyone. It’s a great place to shop for gifts or enjoy a meal. The mall’s location near the station makes it convenient for travelers.

18. Asahikawa Craft Beer

Asahikawa’s craft beer scene is thriving, with several breweries offering tours and tastings. Beer enthusiasts can learn about the brewing process and sample unique local brews. Popular spots include Taisetsu Ji-Beer Factory and Baeren Brewery. It’s a tasty way to experience the city’s growing craft culture.

19. Bike Along the Asahikawa River

Rent a bike and explore the scenic paths along the Asahikawa River. The riverbanks offer beautiful views of the city and nature, making for a pleasant ride. Cycling is a great way to cover more ground and discover hidden gems off the beaten path. The paths are well-maintained, ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience.

20. Michi-no-Eki Asahikawa

Michi-no-Eki Asahikawa is a roadside station that serves as a gateway to the area’s attractions. It features local produce, crafts, and delicious street food. The station is also a useful information center for tourists looking to explore further. Seasonal events and farmers’ markets held here offer a taste of local life.

21. Ueno Farm

Ueno Farm is a charming garden that showcases Hokkaido’s unique flora. The garden’s design reflects the harsh climates of the region, creating a beautiful and resilient landscape. Visitors can stroll through various themed areas, each with its own character. The on-site cafe serves dishes made with fresh, local ingredients.

22. Asahikawa Design Center

The Asahikawa Design Center highlights the city’s renowned furniture industry. Visitors can see beautiful displays of handcrafted wooden furniture and learn about the design process. The center also offers workshops where participants can try their hand at woodworking. It’s a fascinating visit for those interested in design and craftsmanship.

23. Climb Mount Asahidake

Mount Asahidake, the highest peak in Hokkaido, offers challenging hikes and stunning alpine scenery. The mountain is part of the Daisetsuzan National Park and features hot springs, volcanic activity, and diverse wildlife. Summer hikes reveal colorful alpine flowers, while winter turns the landscape into a snowy wonderland. The ropeway provides easy access to the mountain’s upper reaches.

24. Visit the Asahikawa Prison Museum

The Asahikawa Prison Museum provides a unique look into Japan’s penal system and the history of the region’s incarceration facilities. Exhibits include historical documents, prisoner artifacts, and descriptions of daily life in prison. The museum aims to educate visitors on the importance of human rights and rehabilitation. It’s a sobering, thought-provoking experience.

25. Relax at Shujitsu no Oka Park

Shujitsu no Oka Park is a beautiful landscape garden offering panoramic views of the Asahikawa area. The park is particularly stunning in spring when tulips and other flowers bloom in vibrant colors. Visitors can enjoy leisurely walks, picnics, and photography. The park’s design incorporates water features, stone arrangements, and seasonal plantings, creating a peaceful atmosphere.

26. Explore the Kaneto Kawamura Ainu Museum

The Kaneto Kawamura Ainu Museum is dedicated to preserving and showcasing the culture of the Ainu, the indigenous people of Hokkaido. The museum features traditional Ainu artifacts, clothing, and tools. Demonstrations of Ainu crafts and dances provide insight into their rich cultural heritage. The museum plays a crucial role in educating the public and celebrating Ainu traditions.

27. Snowboard at Kamui Ski Links

Kamui Ski Links is a popular ski and snowboard resort located a short drive from Asahikawa. The resort offers a variety of runs for all skill levels, from gentle slopes for beginners to challenging terrain for experts. The powder snow is exceptional, providing excellent conditions for winter sports enthusiasts. The resort also features restaurants and onsen facilities for a complete day of fun and relaxation.

28. Asahikawa Medical University Museum of Health Sciences

The Asahikawa Medical University Museum of Health Sciences is an intriguing place to learn about the human body and medical science. The museum’s exhibits cover various topics, including anatomy, physiology, and advances in medical technology. Interactive displays make the information accessible and engaging. It’s an educational visit that appeals to curious minds of all ages.

29. Enjoy the Scenery at Tokiwa Park

Tokiwa Park is a large, multifunctional park in the heart of Asahikawa. It features a botanical garden, a zoo, and sports facilities. The park is a lovely spot for a stroll, especially during cherry blossom season. It’s also home to cultural events and festivals, making it a lively place to experience local traditions.

30. Learn at the Hokkaido Traditional Arts and Crafts Village

The Hokkaido Traditional Arts and Crafts Village showcases the island’s rich craft heritage, including woodworking, ceramics, and textiles. Visitors can watch artisans at work and participate in hands-on workshops. The village is an excellent place to purchase unique, handmade souvenirs. It’s a testament to Hokkaido’s artistic talent and creativity.

31. Sample Local Cuisine at Asahikawa Food Street

Asahikawa Food Street is a culinary hotspot where visitors can sample local dishes and Hokkaido specialties. The area is bustling with eateries serving fresh seafood, ramen, dairy products, and more. It’s a great place to embark on a gastronomic adventure and savor the flavors of the region. The lively atmosphere and delicious food make it a favorite among locals and tourists alike.

32. Attend the Asahikawa Summer Festival

The Asahikawa Summer Festival celebrates the season with parades, traditional dance performances, and fireworks. The festival is a vibrant display of local culture and community spirit. Food stalls offer a variety of summer treats and local delicacies. It’s a joyful occasion that brings together people of all ages to enjoy the warm weather and festive activities.

33. Visit the Ayako Miura Literature Museum

Dedicated to the renowned Japanese novelist Ayako Miura, this museum explores her life and works. Miura’s novels, deeply rooted in the landscapes and culture of Hokkaido, offer poignant insights into human nature and society. The museum features personal items, manuscripts, and first editions. It’s a peaceful place for literature lovers to discover more about one of Japan’s literary icons.

Each of these activities and spots offers a slice of what Asahikawa is all about. Whether you’re drawn to nature, keen on understanding local culture, or just in search of delectable cuisines, Asahikawa has something to capture your heart and imagination.

Katsu Don Japanese dish that is a must try thing to eat in Japan

What To Eat and Drink in Asahikawa, Japan

Asahikawa, located in the northernmost island of Japan, Hokkaido, is a place that offers a variety of unique and delicious foods and drinks.

Here’s a detailed guide on what to eat and drink in Asahikawa for a true taste of Hokkaido.

Must-Try Foods

1. Asahikawa Ramen

Renowned across Japan, Asahikawa’s version of ramen is distinguished by its soy sauce-based broth, which is both rich and clear. Topped with char siu (barbecued pork), bamboo shoots, scallions, and often a slice of butter, it offers a deliciously complex flavor profile. Ramen Village and various eateries around the city serve this iconic dish.

2. Shoyu Ramen

A variant of the Asahikawa ramen, the shoyu (soy sauce) ramen stands out for its fragrant and flavorful broth. It’s a must-try for those looking to understand the subtleties of Japan’s ramen culture.

3. Jingisukan (Genghis Khan)

This popular Hokkaido dish consists of grilled mutton and vegetables, cooked on a dome-shaped metal grill that resembles a warrior’s helmet. Often enjoyed with a cold beer, Jingisukan is not only delicious but also a fun communal dining experience.

4. Soba Noodles

Hokkaido’s climate is ideal for buckwheat, making Asahikawa a great place to enjoy soba noodles. These can be served cold with a dipping sauce or in a hot, savory broth.

5. Fresh Seafood

Being in Hokkaido, Asahikawa offers an array of fresh seafood. Don’t miss trying sushi and sashimi made with locally caught fish, including salmon, crab, and sea urchin, known for their exceptional quality and freshness.

6. Oyaki

Similar to dumplings, Oyaki are stuffed with a variety of fillings like vegetables or sweet bean paste and are then grilled or steamed. They make for a tasty snack or a light meal.

7. Dairy Products

Hokkaido is famous for its dairy farms, so be sure to try the local milk, cheese, butter, and ice cream. Soft serve ice cream, in particular, is a treat not to be missed, with flavors ranging from vanilla and lavender to melon.

Must-Try Drinks

8. Local Sake

Asahikawa is home to several sake breweries, where you can sample different types of sake made from pure mountain water. Otokoyama Sake Brewery Museum is a popular spot for tasting and learning about the sake-making process.

9. Hokkaido Craft Beers

The craft beer scene in Hokkaido is booming, and Asahikawa is no exception. Local breweries offer a variety of beers from classic lagers to unique brews infused with local ingredients.

10. Hot Drinks

Given the cold climate, hot drinks are a staple in Asahikawa. Try the local hot cocoa, made extra creamy with Hokkaido milk, or a hot matcha latte for a comforting warm-up.

11. Whisky

Hokkaido’s pure water and cool climate are ideal for whisky production. While in Asahikawa, consider tasting Japanese whisky, which has gained international acclaim for its quality.

source: WAO RYU!ONLY in JAPAN on YouTube

Asahikawa beautiful colorful flowers in a field as a stunning landscape in Japan

Tours For Visitors To Asahikawa, Japan

For those planning a visit, here’s a selection of tours that will help you delve deeper into the essence of Asahikawa and its surroundings, ensuring a memorable journey through this captivating region.

1. Asahikawa City Tour

Discover the heart of Asahikawa with a guided city tour that takes you through its bustling streets, peaceful parks, and vibrant shopping districts. Highlights include the Asahikawa City Museum, where you can learn about the city’s history and culture, and the Tokiwa Park, known for its beautiful landscapes and serene atmosphere.

2. Asahiyama Zoo Experience

Enjoy a guided tour of the Asahiyama Zoo, Japan’s northernmost zoo, famous for its innovative enclosures designed to showcase the natural behavior of animals. This tour offers insights into wildlife conservation efforts and provides a closer look at Hokkaido’s native species as well as animals from around the world.

3. Sake Brewery and Tasting Tour

Immerse yourself in the world of Japanese sake with a visit to a local brewery in Asahikawa. Learn about the sake-making process, from fermentation to bottling, and enjoy a tasting session where you can sample various types of sake, understanding the subtleties that make each unique.

4. Craftsmanship and Artisans Tour

Explore Asahikawa’s renowned craftsmanship with a tour focused on its famous furniture industry and other traditional crafts. Visit artisan workshops, see master craftsmen at work, and discover the meticulous attention to detail that goes into creating Asahikawa’s high-quality wood products.

5. Daisetsuzan National Park Hiking Tour

Venture into the wilderness of Daisetsuzan National Park, Japan’s largest national park, with a guided hiking tour. Experience the majestic beauty of Hokkaido’s mountainous landscape, including lush forests, alpine flora, and possibly even wildlife sightings, with routes tailored to various fitness levels.

6. Ramen Village Culinary Tour

No visit to Asahikawa is complete without savoring its famous ramen. Embark on a culinary tour of Asahikawa Ramen Village, where you can taste different versions of the local soy sauce-based ramen and learn about the history and evolution of this beloved dish.

7. Historical Villages of Hokkaido Museum Tour

Step back in time with a tour of the Historical Villages of Hokkaido Museum, an open-air museum showcasing buildings from the Meiji and Taisho eras. The tour offers a glimpse into the lives of early settlers in Hokkaido and highlights the architectural styles of the period.

8. Biei and Furano Day Trip

Experience the picturesque landscapes of Biei and Furano on a day trip from Asahikawa. These neighboring towns are famous for their vibrant flower fields in summer and stunning scenery year-round. The tour typically includes visits to popular spots such as the Blue Pond and Farm Tomita.

9. Otokoyama Sake Brewery Museum Tour

Delve into the history of sake brewing in Hokkaido with a visit to the Otokoyama Sake Brewery Museum. This tour not only explores the traditional brewing techniques unique to the region but also offers a panoramic view of Asahikawa from the museum’s location.

10. Snow Crystal Museum Tour

A visit to the Snow Crystal Museum offers a magical experience with its collection of natural snow crystals, beautifully displayed in a castle-like setting. Learn about the science and artistry behind snowflakes and enjoy the museum’s serene ambiance, making it a perfect tour for families and couples.

source: FOODOJO on YouTube

Asahikawa Accommodations Guide: Hotels, Guesthouses and Hostels

Situated in the heart of Hokkaido, Asahikawa is the perfect launchpad for exploring the region’s many attractions. Whether you’re in town for a whirlwind trip or a more extended stay, the city offers a plethora of accommodations to suit every taste and budget. Here’s a detailed guide to ensure you find the right fit for your journey:


  1. Asahikawa Grand Hotel
    • Location: Central Asahikawa, near the Asahikawa Station.
    • Features: Elegant rooms, onsite restaurants serving Japanese and Western cuisines, spa facilities, and conference rooms.
    • Best For: Business travelers and families looking for a touch of luxury.
  2. Dormy Inn Asahikawa
    • Location: Close to the Asahikawa Station.
    • Features: Modern amenities, a public bath, and a complimentary ramen service in the evening.
    • Best For: Budget-conscious travelers seeking comfort.
  3. Hoshino Resorts OMO7 Asahikawa
    • Location: Convenient downtown location.
    • Features: Stylish rooms, a curated local tour service, restaurants, and bars with local dishes and drinks.
    • Best For: Travelers seeking a blend of local experience with luxury.


  1. Guest House Asahikawa Ride
    • Location: Peaceful neighborhood, slightly removed from the city center.
    • Features: Cozy rooms with shared facilities, bike rentals, and a friendly owner who can provide tips for exploring the region.
    • Best For: Solo travelers and backpackers looking for an intimate setting.
  2. Yado Retro
    • Location: A short distance from Asahikawa Station.
    • Features: Vintage-style interior, private and shared rooms, and a kitchen for guest use.
    • Best For: Travelers seeking a homely experience with a touch of nostalgia.
  3. Guesthouse The Earth
    • Location: Near Tokiwa Park.
    • Features: Rustic interiors, shared dormitories, lounge area, and an opportunity to interact with other travelers.
    • Best For: Young travelers and backpackers.


  1. K’s House Asahikawa
    • Location: Proximity to Asahikawa Station.
    • Features: Clean dormitory-style rooms, communal kitchen, and lounge areas.
    • Best For: Budget travelers and backpackers.
  2. Asahikawa Toyo Hotel
    • Location: Central location near shopping areas.
    • Features: Simple rooms, both shared and private, with basic amenities.
    • Best For: Travelers on a tight budget looking for basic facilities.
  3. Y’s Hostel Asahikawa Ekimae
    • Location: Just in front of Asahikawa Station.
    • Features: Modern interiors, dormitory rooms, shared lounge, and kitchen facilities.
    • Best For: Solo travelers and those looking for a youthful, vibrant ambiance.

Tips for Booking Accommodations in Asahikawa:

  • Seasonality: Asahikawa experiences peak tourism during winter for skiing and snow festivals. Ensure to book in advance during these times.
  • Location: If you plan on taking day trips, staying near Asahikawa Station might be convenient. However, if you’re keen on exploring the city itself, downtown accommodations might be preferable.
  • Facilities: While most hotels provide in-room amenities, guesthouses and hostels might have shared facilities. Ensure to check based on your comfort level.
  • Budget: Asahikawa offers accommodations for every budget. From luxury stays to budget hostels, set your budget and choose accordingly.

Asahikawa, with its perfect blend of urban sophistication and untouched nature, promises a memorable stay. This accommodation guide will ensure that your nights are as delightful as your days, providing the comfort and experience you seek. Whether it’s the pampering of a hotel, the warmth of a guesthouse, or the camaraderie of a hostel, Asahikawa awaits your arrival.

source: Barrett Ishida on YouTube

Day Trips From Asahikawa, Japan

From enchanting lavender fields to pristine lakes and snow-clad mountains, here are some recommended day trips from Asahikawa:

Take A Day Trip To Furano

Here’s a curated list of day trips from Asahikawa, each offering a distinct adventure into the heart of Japan’s northernmost island.

1. Furano and Biei

Just an hour’s drive from Asahikawa, Furano and Biei are renowned for their vibrant lavender fields in summer and picturesque rural landscapes year-round. Explore Farm Tomita in Furano, famous for its colorful flower fields, and the Blue Pond in Biei, known for its ethereal blue water. Enjoy the scenic Patchwork Road in Biei, offering views of patchwork-like agricultural fields. These towns offer a perfect blend of natural beauty and agricultural charm.

2. Daisetsuzan National Park

Daisetsuzan, or “Great Snowy Mountains,” is Japan’s largest national park, offering hiking trails through pristine alpine wilderness. Embark on a day hike to experience the rugged beauty of Hokkaido’s wilderness, with chances to spot wildlife and enjoy hot springs. Sounkyo Gorge, within the park, is famous for its waterfalls and dramatic cliffs. Daisetsuzan is an ideal destination for nature lovers and adventure seekers alike.

3. Otaru

Otaru, a small harbor city, is known for its beautifully preserved canal area, historic warehouses, and glasswork shops. Take a leisurely stroll along the Otaru Canal, enjoy fresh seafood, and visit the Otaru Music Box Museum. The city’s nostalgic atmosphere and architecture offer a glimpse into Hokkaido’s past. Otaru can be reached in less than three hours by train, making it a fantastic day trip for history and architecture enthusiasts.

4. Sapporo

Hokkaido’s capital, Sapporo, is famous for its annual Snow Festival, beer, and the historic Hokkaido Shrine. Explore Odori Park, the site of the Sapporo Snow Festival, and enjoy a fresh brew at the Sapporo Beer Museum. The city’s vibrant atmosphere, coupled with its parks and entertainment options, makes it a must-visit. Sapporo is easily accessible by train, offering a day full of urban exploration.

5. Shiretoko National Park

For a longer day trip or overnight stay, Shiretoko National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site on the northeastern tip of Hokkaido, offers unparalleled wilderness experiences. Known for its rich biodiversity, including brown bears and numerous bird species, it’s a haven for wildlife enthusiasts. The park also offers boat tours for visitors to witness the dramatic coastline and possibly spot marine wildlife. Shiretoko is a testament to the untouched beauty of Hokkaido’s remote regions.

6. Asahiyama Zoo

Located just a short drive from Asahikawa, Asahiyama Zoo is one of Japan’s most popular zoos, known for its unique enclosures designed to encourage natural animal behaviors. Witness the famous penguin walk in winter, where penguins parade in the snow, offering a delightful spectacle. The zoo provides insight into conservation efforts and the chance to see animals from around the world. It’s a perfect day trip for families and animal lovers.

7. Lake Akan

Venture to Lake Akan, known for its marimo (rare green algae balls), in Akan Mashu National Park. The area is also home to the Ainu Kotan, a small Ainu village where visitors can learn about the indigenous culture of Hokkaido. Enjoy a boat cruise on the lake or explore the surrounding volcanic landscapes. Lake Akan offers a mix of natural beauty and cultural experiences.

8. Kamikawa and Sounkyo Gorge

The town of Kamikawa serves as a gateway to Sounkyo Gorge, a spectacular ravine marked by its dramatic cliffs and waterfalls, including the famous Ryusei and Ginga falls. The area offers excellent hiking opportunities, with paths leading to breathtaking viewpoints. In winter, Sounkyo hosts an ice waterfall festival, transforming the gorge into a glittering frozen landscape. Kamikawa and its natural wonders are easily accessible for a day of exploration.

9. Tomamu

For those looking for a resort experience, Tomamu offers both winter sports and summer activities, including the Unkai Terrace, where visitors can observe the “sea of clouds.” The resort also features an indoor wave pool and an ice village in winter. It’s a family-friendly destination with a variety of dining and entertainment options. Tomamu provides a blend of leisure and adventure in a stunning alpine setting.

10. Noboribetsu Onsen

Experience the therapeutic hot springs of Noboribetsu Onsen, located in Hokkaido’s most famous hot spring resort area. The area is also known for its “Hell Valley,” a geothermal crater with sulfurous streams and other volcanic activities. Enjoy a day of relaxation in various baths and spas, surrounded by beautiful nature. Noboribetsu Onsen is a sanctuary for those seeking wellness and tranquility.

source: JPRail on YouTube

Asahikawa Transportation Guide

Asahikawa, the second-largest city in Hokkaido, Japan, is not only famous for its zoo and ramen but also for its efficient transportation system. Whether you’re a tourist aiming to explore the scenic spots or a local commuting to work, understanding the transportation options available will help you navigate the city with ease.

The Asahikawa Transportation Guide provides information on how to get around the city and its surrounding areas. Here are some transportation options:

1. Air: Asahikawa Airport

  • Location: Located about 20 minutes from central Asahikawa.
  • Connecting Cities: Major cities like Tokyo, Osaka, and Sapporo.
  • Transport to/from the city:
    • Buses: Regular shuttle buses connect the airport to Asahikawa Station.
    • Taxis: Available at the airport entrance.

2. Trains

  • Asahikawa Station: Central hub connecting various parts of Hokkaido.
    • Super Kamui: Connects Asahikawa to Sapporo.
    • Sōya/Lilac: Heads north towards Wakkanai.
    • Other Local Trains: Connects to smaller towns and tourist spots.

3. Buses

  • Asahikawa Electric Bus Company: Covers most parts of the city.
    • Tourist Loop Bus: Circulates major attractions like Asahikawa Zoo.
    • Regular Routes: Extensively cover suburbs and neighboring towns.
    • IC Cards: Suica, Pasmo, and Kitaca cards can be used for payment.

4. Trams

While trams are not as extensive as buses, they offer a nostalgic ride around the city, especially beneficial for tourists.

5. Taxis

  • Available 24/7.
  • Useful for direct journeys, especially late at night when public transport frequency is reduced.

6. Cycling

Asahikawa, with its wide roads and pleasant weather during summer, is conducive for cycling.

  • Rental Shops: Available near Asahikawa Station and major tourist spots.
  • Designated Cycle Paths: For safer rides.

7. Car Rentals

For those looking to explore outskirts or prefer private transport.

  • Providers: Major companies like Toyota Rent-a-Car, Nippon Rent-a-Car, etc.
  • Driving: Remember, Japan drives on the left!

8. On Foot

Downtown Asahikawa is pedestrian-friendly. Key areas like the shopping street and ramen village are best explored on foot.

Tips for Navigating Asahikawa:

  1. Maps & Apps: Use apps like Google Maps or Japan’s NAVITIME for guidance.
  2. Day Passes: Consider purchasing for unlimited rides on public transport.
  3. Language: While major stations and tourist spots have English signs, it’s useful to know basic Japanese phrases or have a translation app.
  4. Etiquette: Queue in line for buses and trains. Offer seats to the elderly, pregnant women, and those with young children.
  5. Timings: Public transport is punctual. Check schedules in advance, especially if you have tight plans.

Conclusion: Asahikawa, with its myriad of transportation options, is well-equipped to serve both locals and tourists. Familiarizing yourself with the above guide will ensure a smooth journey around the city and its beautiful surroundings.

source: Bianca Valerio on YouTube

Asahikawa 1 Day Travel Itinerary

Spending a day in Asahikawa offers a taste of Hokkaido’s urban charm blended with nature’s grandeur. This itinerary is crafted to give you a comprehensive experience of what the city and its surroundings have to offer. Pack your day full of history, culture, gastronomy, and natural beauty!

Asahikawa winter lights in Japan


8:00 am – Breakfast at a Local Cafe Start your day with a hearty breakfast. Visit Cafe Mei or Boulangerie Kaito for a blend of Japanese and Western-style breakfast items. Don’t forget to try the Hokkaido milk!

9:00 am – Asahiyama Zoo

  • Spend your morning at the famed Asahiyama Zoo. The innovative design ensures you can see animals like penguins and polar bears up close.
  • Attend the penguin walk (seasonal) or watch the aquatic life through the underwater tunnel.

11:30 am – Asahikawa Ramen Village

  • Dive into the city’s renowned culinary scene by having lunch at Asahikawa Ramen Village. Try the local favorite, shoyu (soy sauce) ramen. With multiple ramen shops in one place, pick any or hop from one to another for a tasting spree.


1:00 pm – Tokiwa Park

  • A short, leisurely walk or a boat ride in Tokiwa Park can help digest that fulfilling ramen.
  • If visiting in winter, marvel at the snow-clad surroundings; spring offers cherry blossoms, while summer and autumn boast greenery and vibrant foliage.

2:30 pm – Otokoyama Sake Brewery Museum

  • Immerse yourself in the rich tradition of sake brewing at Otokoyama Sake Brewery Museum. Learn about the history and process of sake-making and conclude with a tasting session.

4:00 pm – Asahikawa Design Center

  • Explore the exquisite craftsmanship of Asahikawa’s artisans. The city is known for its wooden furniture, and the Design Center showcases this expertise. Additionally, pick up souvenirs and handcrafted goods.


5:30 pm – Arashiyama Observation Deck

  • Catch the sunset at the Arashiyama Observation Deck. The panoramic view of the sprawling city against the backdrop of majestic mountains is a sight to behold.

7:00 pm – Dinner in Heiwa Dori

  • Head to Heiwa Dori, a lively street known for its delectable eateries. Whether you’re craving more ramen, sushi, or a local Hokkaido dish, this street will have something to tantalize your taste buds.
  • Yakiniku (grilled meat) is a must-try here. Visit restaurants like Yakiniku Misono for a delightful grilled meat experience.

9:00 pm – Nightcap at a Local Bar

  • Round off your day by sipping on local brews or cocktails. Bars like Bar Keaton offer a cozy ambiance and a selection of drinks to unwind after a packed day.


  • Given Asahikawa’s climate, ensure you dress appropriately. Winters can be harsh, so layer up!
  • While most spots are accessible by public transport, consider renting a bicycle or hiring a taxi for convenience.
  • Keep some cash on hand. Not all places, especially smaller eateries, might accept cards.

With just one day in Asahikawa, this itinerary gives you a fulfilling experience, showcasing the city’s essence. From the captivating sights at the zoo to the gastronomic delights, you’ll leave with lasting memories and perhaps a longing to return. Safe travels!

source: Wiki Peaks on YouTube

Asahikawa 3-4 Days Travel Itinerary

Asahikawa is a blend of urban charm, nature, and vibrant culture. Here’s a detailed itinerary to help you make the most of 3-4 days in this delightful Hokkaido city.

Asahikawa flower fields in Japan

Day 1: Explore the Heart of Asahikawa

  1. Morning:
    • Breakfast at Asahikawa Station: Start your day with a local breakfast delicacy at the eateries around the station.
    • Asahikawa City Museum: Get an overview of the city’s history and culture.
  2. Afternoon:
    • Lunch at Ramen Village: Try Asahikawa’s famous soy-based ramen at one of the eight renowned ramen shops in the village.
    • Kaimono Park: A shopping paradise with numerous stores, boutiques, and cafes. Perfect for souvenir hunting.
  3. Evening:
    • Otokoyama Sake Brewery Museum: Learn about sake brewing and sample some of the finest sake.
    • Dinner in Downtown: Choose a local Izakaya or any of the plethora of restaurants available.

Day 2: Nature & Wildlife

  1. Morning:
    • Breakfast at a local café.
    • Asahikawa Zoo: Explore one of the most popular zoos in Japan, home to polar bears, penguins, and more. Witness animal feeding sessions for an engaging experience.
  2. Afternoon:
    • Lunch at the zoo’s café.
    • Jogging along the Asahikawa River: A serene route with picturesque views, especially during cherry blossom season.
  3. Evening:
    • Dinner at a local seafood restaurant: Hokkaido is renowned for its fresh seafood, so indulge in crab, scallops, or sashimi.
    • Night at the Asahikawa Grand Hotel Onsen: Relax in the hot springs and experience traditional Japanese hospitality.

Day 3: Art & Craft

  1. Morning:
    • Breakfast at your hotel.
    • Snow Crystal Museum: Discover the beauty of snowflakes and ice crystals in this unique museum.
  2. Afternoon:
    • Lunch at a local restaurant.
    • Asahikawa Furniture Center: Asahikawa’s wooden furniture is world-renowned. Visit the showrooms and even attend a woodworking workshop if available.
  3. Evening:
    • Tokikawa Curry Shop: Savor a unique curry dish that’s famous in this region.
    • Asahikawa Winter Festival (if visiting in February): Experience ice sculpture displays, snow activities, and illuminations.

Day 4: Surroundings Exploration

  1. Morning:
    • Breakfast and early check-out.
    • Drive or take a bus to Biei: Witness rolling hills, flower fields, and the panoramic “Blue Pond”.
  2. Afternoon:
    • Lunch in Biei.
    • Visit Furano: Famous for its lavender fields, especially beautiful in July. Explore the local cheese factory and wineries.
  3. Evening:
    • Return to Asahikawa.
    • Farewell Dinner: Choose a restaurant you might have missed on earlier days, or return to a favorite spot.

Additional Tips:

  • Transport: Consider renting a car if you’re comfortable driving in Japan. This gives you flexibility, especially for Day 4.
  • Weather: Asahikawa can be chilly even during summers. Pack accordingly.
  • Language: While many places cater to tourists, carrying a translation app can be handy.
  • Local Delicacies: Don’t miss trying soft cream, sake, fresh seafood, and of course, the ramen!

Concluding, Asahikawa offers a perfect blend of urban adventures and natural beauty. This itinerary ensures a balanced exploration of both aspects, leaving you with unforgettable memories of Hokkaido’s charm. Safe travels!

source: Cornyco on YouTube

Asahikawa 1 Week Travel Itinerary

A week in Asahikawa allows you to dive deep into its cultural pulse, natural beauty, and gastronomical delights. Here’s a meticulously crafted itinerary to maximize your experience in Asahikawa and its surroundings.

Day 1: Immersion in Asahikawa’s Heart

  1. Morning:
    • Breakfast: Local café near Asahikawa Station.
    • Asahikawa City Museum: Understand the city’s rich tapestry of history and culture.
  2. Afternoon:
    • Lunch: Ramen Village.
    • Kaimono Park: Delve into shopping, from souvenirs to contemporary Japanese fashion.
  3. Evening:
    • Otokoyama Sake Brewery Museum: Tour and sake tasting.
    • Dinner: Downtown Izakaya experience.

Day 2: Nature & Wildlife

  1. Morning:
    • Breakfast: Your accommodation or local bakery.
    • Asahikawa Zoo: Spend ample time exploring.
  2. Afternoon:
    • Lunch: Zoo café.
    • Asahikawa River: Riverside walk or cycle.
  3. Evening:
    • Seafood Dinner: Capitalize on Hokkaido’s seafood treasures.
    • Asahikawa Grand Hotel Onsen: Relax in the hot springs.

Day 3: Artistic Flair

  1. Morning:
    • Breakfast: At your hotel.
    • Snow Crystal Museum: Marvel at the intricacies of snowflakes.
  2. Afternoon:
    • Lunch: Contemporary Japanese café.
    • Asahikawa Furniture Center: Appreciate the craftsmanship and maybe attend a workshop.
  3. Evening:
    • Dinner: Tokikawa Curry Shop.
    • Stroll in Tokiwa Park: Enjoy the serene environment.

Day 4: Exploring Biei

  1. Morning:
    • Breakfast and early departure to Biei.
    • Panorama Road: Enjoy scenic views and picturesque landscapes.
  2. Afternoon:
    • Lunch in Biei: Try a farm-to-table experience.
    • Shikisai Hill: Depending on the season, enjoy beautiful flowers or snow-covered landscapes.
  3. Evening:
    • Dinner in Biei: Local restaurant.
    • Return to Asahikawa.

Day 5: Day in Furano

  1. Morning:
    • Breakfast and depart for Furano.
    • Lavender Fields: Witness the iconic lavender blooms (best in July).
  2. Afternoon:
    • Lunch: Local café in Furano.
    • Cheese Factory & Wineries: Tour and tasting sessions.
  3. Evening:
    • Dinner in Furano: Experience a local specialty.
    • Return to Asahikawa.

Day 6: Local Crafts & Cultural Immersion

  1. Morning:
    • Breakfast: Local artisanal bakery.
    • Craft Market: Engage with local artists, purchase hand-made crafts.
  2. Afternoon:
    • Lunch: Traditional Japanese meal in a local eatery.
    • Visit the Ainu Cultural Center: Dive deep into the indigenous culture of Hokkaido.
  3. Evening:
    • Traditional Kaiseki Dinner: Experience a multi-course Japanese dinner.

Day 7: Leisure and Farewell

  1. Morning:
    • Breakfast.
    • Visit a local shrine or temple: Reflect on your journey.
  2. Afternoon:
    • Last-minute shopping: Kaimono Park or any other preferred area.
    • Lunch: Revisit a favorite spot or try something new.
  3. Evening:
    • Farewell Dinner: Choose a luxury dining spot to celebrate your week.
    • Evening at a local bar or café: Relax and soak in the city vibes one last time.

Additional Tips:

  • Transportation: If comfortable, rent a car for flexibility. Otherwise, the train and bus system are efficient for day trips to Biei and Furano.
  • Weather: Pack layers, especially if traveling during transitional seasons.
  • Guided Tours: For certain attractions, consider joining a guided tour for a richer understanding.
  • Local Customs: Respect local customs, especially when visiting religious or cultural sites.

With a blend of urban adventures, cultural insights, and natural beauty, this week-long itinerary guarantees a holistic experience of Asahikawa and its surrounding jewels. Enjoy your journey!

source: Miel Citron on YouTube

Asahikawa 1 Month Travel Itinerary

Spending a month in Asahikawa gives you a unique opportunity to experience the city beyond the usual tourist spots, embracing its seasonal changes, regional festivals, and local rhythms. Here’s a comprehensive month-long itinerary that blends exploration, relaxation, and immersion.

Lone cherry blossom tree in Asahikawa, Japan

Week 1: Deep Dive into Asahikawa

Day 1-7: Get acquainted with the city’s landmarks, neighborhoods, and rhythms.

  • Visit places like Asahikawa City Museum, Kaimono Park, and Otokoyama Sake Brewery Museum.
  • Spend full days at places like Asahikawa Zoo.
  • Discover local eateries, markets, and artisan shops.
  • Attend any local events or festivals happening during your stay.
  • Take language lessons or cooking classes to immerse yourself in the culture.

Week 2: Explore Surrounding Areas & Nature

Day 8-14: Explore Biei, Furano, and other surrounding natural beauties.

  • Biei: Dedicate 2-3 days. Visit Panorama Road, Shikisai Hill, and enjoy farm-to-table experiences.
  • Furano: Spend 2-3 days. Explore Lavender Fields, Cheese Factory, and Wineries.
  • Take leisurely hikes in the national parks or enjoy snow activities (depending on the season).
  • Rent a bicycle for a day and explore the countryside.
  • Engage in agritourism, experiencing farm stays or fruit picking sessions.

Week 3: Cultural & Artistic Immersion

Day 15-21: Dive deeper into the culture and arts.

  • Attend workshops at Asahikawa Furniture Center.
  • Spend time at the Ainu Cultural Center to learn about indigenous people.
  • Explore art galleries and studios throughout the city.
  • Take traditional craft workshops, such as pottery or textile arts.
  • Engage with locals at community centers or events.
  • Visit local libraries and bookstores to discover regional literature.

Week 4: Leisure, Culinary Adventures & Farewell

Day 22-28: Savor the flavors and unwind.

  • Dedicate days to culinary explorations: Attend sake tastings, ramen-making classes, and visit local fisheries.
  • Revisit favorite spots or explore places you might have missed.
  • Take a spa day: Experience traditional onsens or modern spa treatments.
  • Shop for souvenirs and unique items to remember your journey.
  • Write, paint, or simply reflect on your experiences in the calm parks or cozy cafés.
  • Attend a traditional tea ceremony.
  • Hold a farewell dinner at a high-end restaurant to celebrate your month-long journey.

Day 29-30:

  • Pack, organize souvenirs, and finalize any last-minute shopping or sightseeing.
  • Reflect on your experiences, perhaps by journaling or photo sorting.

Additional Tips:

  1. Accommodation: Consider renting an apartment or a long-term stay hotel for a more home-like experience.
  2. Transportation: Familiarize yourself with the local transportation system; consider getting monthly passes for convenience.
  3. Local Interaction: Engage with locals, perhaps join local clubs or groups that align with your interests.
  4. Seasonal Activities: Research activities specific to the season of your visit. From sakura viewing in spring to snow festivals in winter, Asahikawa has unique offerings throughout the year.
  5. Documentation: Maintain a diary or blog, capturing your day-to-day experiences.
  6. Language: A longer stay merits basic language skills. Download a Japanese learning app or attend beginner classes.

A month in Asahikawa promises a medley of adventures, introspection, and authentic experiences. Dive deep into its beauty, understand its heritage, relish its culinary wonders, and, above all, create lasting memories.

Asahikawa bridge at night with lights in Japan

Is Asahikawa A Safe City To Visit?

Asahikawa, the second-largest city in Hokkaido, is generally regarded as a safe destination for both tourists and residents. Like many Japanese cities, it boasts low crime rates, a polite and helpful population, and organized public systems. However, to understand the safety profile of Asahikawa comprehensively, let’s delve into different aspects:

1. Crime Rate:

  • General Safety: Asahikawa, mirroring the broader trend of safety in Japan, has a relatively low crime rate, especially when it comes to violent crimes. Petty crimes like pickpocketing or scams targeting tourists are infrequent. However, it’s always good practice to be cautious, especially in crowded areas.
  • Night Safety: Areas around the main train station and popular entertainment districts are active and well-lit during the night. While wandering alone late at night is generally safe, it’s always wise to stay aware of your surroundings, as with any city.

2. Natural Risks:

  • Climate: Asahikawa experiences cold winters with heavy snowfall. If you’re not used to such weather, you might find it challenging to navigate. Ensure you have appropriate winter gear and are prepared for potential travel delays. On the other hand, summers are mild and comfortable.
  • Earthquakes: Hokkaido occasionally experiences earthquakes, though Asahikawa is not in the most seismically active zone. Familiarize yourself with earthquake safety tips when traveling in the region.

3. Transportation:

  • Public Transport: Asahikawa’s public transportation system is well-organized and safe. The buses and trains run on time, and stations are generally clean and secure.
  • Driving: If you plan to rent a car, the roads are in good condition, but driving during winter requires experience in snowy conditions. Ensure your vehicle is equipped with winter tires and familiarize yourself with winter driving safety tips.

4. Health and Medical Services:

  • Healthcare: The healthcare system in Asahikawa is of high standard, with hospitals and clinics equipped to handle emergencies. However, not all medical staff may speak fluent English, so having a translation app or phrasebook can be beneficial.
  • Food and Water: The tap water is potable, and food hygiene standards are high. Asahikawa is famous for its ramen, sake, and seafood, which are typically safe to consume.

5. Local Etiquette and Behavior:

  • Respect and Politeness: Japanese society values respect and politeness. Understanding basic Japanese etiquette, like bowing and removing shoes indoors, can enhance your interactions with locals.
  • Communication: While younger generations may have a basic grasp of English, many older residents might not. Learning a few basic Japanese phrases or carrying a translation guide can be immensely helpful.

6. Miscellaneous Tips:

  • Stay Informed: Before and during your trip, stay updated about any local news or events that might affect your travel.
  • Accommodations: Hotels and guesthouses in Asahikawa generally maintain high standards of safety and cleanliness.

Asahikawa is a safe and welcoming city for visitors. As always, while the risks are minimal, maintaining general travel safety practices, respecting local customs, and being prepared for the specific conditions of the region (like winter weather) will ensure a smooth and enjoyable trip. Whether you’re exploring its urban attractions, enjoying its culinary delights, or using it as a base to explore Hokkaido’s natural beauty, Asahikawa promises a memorable experience.

source: Club Professionals on YouTube

When Is The Best Time To Visit Asahikawa?

The ideal time to visit Asahikawa largely depends on your interests and what kind of experiences you seek. Being in Hokkaido, Asahikawa experiences distinct seasons, each offering its unique charms. Here’s a comprehensive breakdown:

Asahikawa shopping centre in Japan

1. Winter (December to February):

  • Snow Festival: The Asahikawa Winter Festival is one of the city’s most significant events. Magnificent ice sculptures adorn the streets, and the festival ambiance creates an unforgettable experience.
  • Skiing and Snowboarding: Surrounding areas, like Kamui Ski Links, become prime spots for winter sports.
  • Otokoyama Sake Brewery: Experience sake tasting in a snowy setting, adding to the authenticity of your visit.
  • Challenges: The cold can be quite harsh, with temperatures often dropping below freezing. Ensure you pack appropriately, with thermal wear, boots, gloves, and hats.

2. Spring (March to May):

  • Cherry Blossoms: Towards the end of April and the beginning of May, cherry blossoms paint the town pink. Tokiwa Park is a great place to witness sakura in full bloom.
  • Milder Weather: The snow starts to melt, and the temperature becomes more moderate, making it comfortable for sightseeing.
  • Taste of Spring: Enjoy seasonal delicacies, including fresh seafood and spring vegetables unique to Hokkaido.

3. Summer (June to August):

  • Lavender Fields: If you take short trips to nearby Furano, you can witness the stunning lavender fields in full bloom, especially in July.
  • Mild Climate: Unlike much of Japan, summers in Asahikawa (and Hokkaido in general) are cool and pleasant, providing an escape from the scorching heat experienced elsewhere.
  • Outdoor Activities: It’s the best time for hiking, cycling, and exploring the national parks around Asahikawa, such as Daisetsuzan National Park.

4. Autumn (September to November):

  • Autumn Foliage: The landscape transforms into vibrant shades of red, orange, and yellow. The changing colors of the leaves, especially around the mountains and parks, offer picturesque views.
  • Harvest Season: Relish fresh produce, including grapes, apples, and various vegetables. The culinary scene comes alive with autumnal flavors.
  • Comfortable Weather: The temperatures are cool and comfortable, making it ideal for outdoor exploration.

Factors to Consider:

  1. Budget: Accommodation and flight prices might surge during peak seasons like winter (for the snow festival) and summer (for the lavender fields).
  2. Activities: If you’re keen on specific activities like skiing, winter is ideal. For hiking and outdoor exploration, consider summer or autumn.
  3. Festivals and Events: Research local events or festivals during your proposed travel time. They can offer a deeper understanding of the culture and unique experiences.
  4. Crowds: Summer and winter tend to be more crowded due to the attractions of those seasons. If you prefer a quieter experience, consider spring or early autumn.

The best time to visit Asahikawa is subjective and depends on personal preferences. However, the diverse seasonal offerings ensure that no matter when you decide to visit, the city and its surroundings will have something special to offer. Whether it’s the serene snow-covered landscapes, the vibrant cherry blossoms, the mild summer days, or the colorful tapestry of autumn leaves, Asahikawa promises a delightful experience year-round.

source: Hour Philippines TV on YouTube

Must-Visit Festivals and Events In Asahikawa?

Asahikawa, being a culturally vibrant city, hosts several festivals and events throughout the year that celebrate its rich traditions, seasonal beauty, and community spirit. Here’s a comprehensive guide to some of the most noteworthy festivals and events in the city:

1. Asahikawa Winter Festival (February):

  • Overview: As one of Hokkaido’s most significant winter events, the Asahikawa Winter Festival is celebrated with a grand display of ice sculptures, attracting artists and tourists from around the world.
  • Highlights:
    • Giant Ice Sculptures: Every year, a massive sculpture, sometimes over 20 meters tall, becomes the festival’s main attraction.
    • Light Shows: As night falls, the sculptures are illuminated, creating a mesmerizing sight.
    • Ice Slide and Activities: Suitable for families, there are areas dedicated to fun winter activities, including an ice slide for children.
    • Fireworks: The festival often concludes with a spectacular fireworks display.

2. Asahikawa Design Week (September):

  • Overview: Asahikawa is renowned for its woodworking and furniture industries. The Asahikawa Design Week showcases these craft traditions and contemporary designs.
  • Highlights:
    • Exhibitions: Numerous local manufacturers and designers showcase their work, from traditional to contemporary designs.
    • Workshops: Attendees can participate in workshops to understand and experience the intricacies of woodcraft.

3. Asahikawa Ramen Festival (April):

  • Overview: Asahikawa is famous for its unique style of ramen, and this festival celebrates this culinary delight.
  • Highlights:
    • Ramen Stalls: Local ramen shops set up stalls, allowing visitors to sample a variety of flavors.
    • Competitions: Often, there are ramen-making or eating competitions that add a fun element to the festivities.

4. Asahikawa Summer Festival (August):

  • Overview: This festival marks the summer season with traditional dances, music, and an abundance of local food.
  • Highlights:
    • Bon Odori Dance: Locals and visitors alike participate in this traditional dance, forming circles around a central tower.
    • Food Stalls: Sample traditional summer treats, local specialties, and refreshing beverages.
    • Fireworks: A summer festival in Japan is often accompanied by a dazzling fireworks display, and Asahikawa is no exception.

5. Cherry Blossom Viewing (Late April – Early May):

  • Overview: Asahikawa’s parks and riverbanks come alive with the bloom of cherry blossoms. While not a festival per se, sakura viewing is an event in itself.
  • Highlights:
    • Tokiwa Park: One of the most popular spots for cherry blossom viewing, the park becomes a hub of activity with picnickers and revelers.
    • Nighttime Illuminations: Some areas light up the cherry blossom trees, creating a magical ambiance.

6. Asahikawa Autumn Festival (October):

  • Overview: As the leaves change color, Asahikawa celebrates autumn’s beauty with various events.
  • Highlights:
    • Cultural Performances: From traditional music to dances, the festival showcases regional art forms.
    • Food and Craft Stalls: Autumn is harvest time, and the festival offers a bounty of fresh produce and local crafts.

Additional Tips:

  1. Accommodation: During major festivals, especially the Winter Festival, accommodations can fill up quickly. It’s advisable to book your stay well in advance.
  2. Weather: Depending on the season, ensure you’re dressed appropriately, especially for outdoor events.
  3. Transportation: Festivals might result in rerouting of public transportation or increased traffic. Stay informed about any changes to ease your travel within the city.

Asahikawa offers a blend of traditional and modern festivals that encapsulate the city’s spirit, traditions, and seasonal beauty. Whether you’re savoring a bowl of ramen, dancing the Bon Odori, admiring ice sculptures, or soaking in the pink hues of cherry blossoms, these festivals provide an authentic and enriching experience of the city’s cultural tapestry.

source: Video Street View Japan on YouTube

Shopping Guide and Souvenir List For Visitors To Asahikawa?

Asahikawa, being one of Hokkaido’s prominent cities, offers a plethora of shopping opportunities ranging from traditional crafts to contemporary goods. Whether you’re a passionate shopper or just hunting for keepsakes, here’s a detailed guide to make your shopping experience memorable:

Asahikawa distinct road houses

Shopping Guide:

1. Asahikawa Heiwa Dori Shopping Street:

  • Overview: One of the primary shopping streets in Asahikawa, it’s a pedestrian-friendly zone bustling with shops, eateries, and cafes.
  • Goods to Look For: Local crafts, clothing, and Hokkaido specialties.

2. Kagura Shopping Street:

  • Overview: A covered shopping arcade offering a variety of shops and dining options.
  • Goods to Look For: Traditional Japanese wares, fashion items, and local snacks.

3. Aeon Mall Asahikawa:

  • Overview: A modern shopping mall with a variety of international and domestic brands.
  • Goods to Look For: Apparel, cosmetics, electronics, and household items.

4. Asahikawa Furniture Streets:

  • Overview: Asahikawa is renowned for its woodworking and furniture craftsmanship. There are areas dedicated to showrooms and workshops.
  • Goods to Look For: Wooden crafts, furniture, and decor items.

Souvenir List:

1. Asahikawa Ramen:

  • Description: Asahikawa is famous for its soy-based ramen. While you can’t take the actual noodles, many shops offer ramen kits that you can prepare at home.
  • Where to Buy: Local ramen shops or specialty stores.

2. Wooden Crafts:

  • Description: Asahikawa’s furniture and woodcraft are renowned. Small items like wooden toys, utensils, and ornaments make for perfect souvenirs.
  • Where to Buy: Furniture streets, craft shops, and the Asahikawa Craft Fair (if visiting during the event).

3. Otokoyama Sake:

  • Description: This local sake from the Otokoyama brewery is a treat for sake enthusiasts.
  • Where to Buy: Local liquor stores, supermarkets, or directly from the Otokoyama Brewery.

4. Hokkaido Dairy Products:

  • Description: From cheese to butter and ice cream, Hokkaido’s dairy is a class apart.
  • Where to Buy: Supermarkets, specialty stores, and dairy farms around the region.

5. Shiroi Koibito Cookies:

  • Description: Although these are more associated with Sapporo, these white chocolate cookies are popular throughout Hokkaido.
  • Where to Buy: Supermarkets, souvenir shops, and airports.

6. Japanese Ceramics:

  • Description: You’ll find beautifully crafted Japanese ceramics perfect for gifts or personal use.
  • Where to Buy: Traditional craft shops or souvenir stores.

7. Seaweed and Seafood Products:

  • Description: Experience Hokkaido’s seafood prowess through dried seafood snacks, seaweed, and other marine products.
  • Where to Buy: Local markets, supermarkets, or specialty seafood shops.

8. Local Confectionery:

  • Description: Asahikawa offers a variety of sweets, from traditional Japanese wagashi to modern confections.
  • Where to Buy: Confectionery shops, supermarkets, or specialty dessert stores.

9. Handmade Accessories:

  • Description: Unique jewelry or handcrafted accessories capturing Japanese aesthetics.
  • Where to Buy: Craft fairs, specialty boutiques, or local markets.

10. Traditional Japanese Apparel:

  • Description: Items such as yukata (summer kimono), tabi socks, or geta (traditional sandals) make for distinct souvenirs.
  • Where to Buy: Traditional clothing stores or larger shopping malls.

Tips for Shopping in Asahikawa:

  1. Tax-Free Shopping: International visitors can benefit from tax-free shopping at designated stores. Keep your passport handy.
  2. Local Markets: Sometimes, local markets or seasonal fairs pop up, offering unique, handmade items that aren’t found in mainstream stores.
  3. Packaging: Japanese shops are known for their meticulous packaging, making it easy to transport fragile or delicate items.
  4. Customization: Some craft shops might offer to customize products, from engraving names on wooden items to adjusting sizes.

Asahikawa presents a delightful mix of traditional and modern shopping experiences. From its famed woodworking crafts to delightful culinary treats, the city promises a plethora of items that not only serve as souvenirs but also as tangible memories of your journey.

source: Nick and Helmi on YouTube

Where To Visit After Your Trip To Asahikawa?

Here’s a list of destinations that promise to enrich your travel experience in Japan’s northernmost island.

1. Sapporo

Sapporo, the capital of Hokkaido, is famous for its annual Snow Festival, featuring stunning ice and snow sculptures. Explore the historic Clock Tower, the beautiful Odori Park, and the Sapporo Beer Museum. Enjoy the city’s lively entertainment and dining scene in Susukino. Sapporo offers a blend of urban convenience with access to nearby natural attractions.

2. Otaru

Known for its beautifully preserved canal area and glassware shops, Otaru offers a glimpse into Hokkaido’s maritime history. Stroll along the Otaru Canal at dusk when the gas lamps are lit for a romantic atmosphere. Visit the Music Box Museum and sample fresh seafood at one of the city’s sushi restaurants. Otaru’s charm lies in its blend of history, architecture, and culinary delights.

3. Furano and Biei

Visit Furano and Biei in the summer to see the rolling lavender fields and colorful flower gardens. In winter, Furano turns into a skiing paradise. Biei’s Blue Pond and the patchwork fields offer some of the most photographed scenes in Hokkaido. These towns exemplify the serene beauty and agricultural richness of the region.

4. Hakodate

At the southern tip of Hokkaido, Hakodate is famous for its star-shaped fort, Goryokaku, and the stunning night view from Mount Hakodate. Walk through the Motomachi district to see Western-style historical buildings. Enjoy Hakodate’s fresh seafood, especially at the morning market. Hakodate provides a unique blend of cultures and histories, influenced by foreign traders.

5. Shiretoko National Park

Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site, Shiretoko National Park is one of Japan’s most remote and unspoiled natural areas. Take a boat tour to see waterfalls and wildlife, including bears, along the coastline. In winter, the ice floes provide a unique natural phenomenon. Shiretoko is a haven for nature lovers and those seeking adventure in the wild.

6. Lake Toya and Noboribetsu

Lake Toya offers stunning natural scenery and is part of the Shikotsu-Toya National Park. Enjoy hot springs, hiking, and boat tours on the caldera lake. Nearby Noboribetsu is one of Hokkaido’s most famous hot spring resorts, with the spectacular “Hell Valley” showcasing volcanic activity. Both destinations offer relaxation and a deep dive into Hokkaido’s volcanic landscape.

7. Niseko

Renowned for its world-class skiing and snowboarding, Niseko is a must-visit for winter sports enthusiasts. In summer, the area transforms into a hub for outdoor activities like rafting, golfing, and hiking. Niseko also offers luxurious onsens and gourmet dining, making it a year-round resort destination. The stunning view of Mount Yotei, often compared to Mount Fuji, adds to Niseko’s allure.

8. Rishiri and Rebun Islands

Located off the northern coast of Hokkaido, these islands offer unspoiled natural beauty with rare alpine flowers, hiking trails, and fishing villages. Rishiri’s Mount Rishiri is a challenge for climbers, offering breathtaking views. Rebun is known as the “island of flowers” for its rich flora. These islands are perfect for those seeking solitude and a connection with nature.

9. Kushiro and Akan National Park

Kushiro, in eastern Hokkaido, is known for the Kushiro Marshlands, home to the rare Japanese crane. Akan National Park features beautiful caldera lakes and Ainu cultural experiences. Enjoy canoeing, fishing, and exploring the rich ecosystems. The area combines cultural insights with stunning natural landscapes.

10. Asahidake

As the highest peak in Hokkaido, located in the Daisetsuzan National Park, Asahidake offers excellent hiking trails, alpine flora, and hot springs. In winter, it’s a popular spot for backcountry skiing and snowboarding. The ropeway provides easy access to breathtaking views year-round. Asahidake is an ideal destination for those looking to experience the rugged beauty of Hokkaido’s mountains.

Asahikawa rural views in Japan

Asahikawa Travel Guide: Final Thoughts

This northern city, nestled in the heart of Hokkaido, has unfolded its layers, revealing a world where nature’s grandeur meets human ingenuity and where the past is tenderly preserved amidst the rush of modern life. Asahikawa, with its serene parks, innovative zoo, and bustling ramen alleys, has etched a lasting impression, promising that every visit here is just the beginning of a deeper exploration.

The Soul of Hokkaido

Asahikawa stands as a testament to the spirit of Hokkaido – resilient, welcoming, and deeply connected to the natural world. The city’s charm lies not just in its attractions but in its atmosphere, the easygoing pace of life, and the warmth of its people. It serves as a gateway to the island’s unparalleled wilderness, offering adventures that beckon the soul into the wild.

A Culinary Journey

The culinary landscape of Asahikawa, particularly its famed soy sauce ramen, is a journey of flavors that speaks volumes of the city’s love for food. Dining here is not just about satiating hunger but about experiencing local traditions, where each bowl of ramen or slice of fresh sashimi tells a story of seas, farms, and passionate chefs.

Nature’s Playground

The proximity to Daisetsuzan National Park, with its majestic peaks and tranquil hot springs, positions Asahikawa as a haven for those seeking solace in nature’s embrace. Whether it’s the thrill of skiing down powdery slopes or the quiet joy of a forest walk, the natural surroundings of Asahikawa offer a refreshing counterpoint to urban life, reminding us of the beauty and power of the wild.

A Call to Return

Asahikawa, much like the rest of Hokkaido, possesses a quiet allure that calls for a return. Each season paints the city in a new light, from the soft hues of cherry blossoms in spring to the golden glow of ginkgo trees in autumn. There’s always more to explore, more flavors to taste, and more trails to wander.

Ode To Asahikawa

In Asahikawa’s snowy land, A winter wonderland so grand. The city’s charm, a sight to see, From parks to museums, lively and free.

As you stroll through the streets, The crisp air, your heart beats. Mt. Daisetsuzan, towering high, A majestic sight, against the sky.

Day trips, adventure awaits, Biei’s rolling hills, a scenic escape. Kamikawa’s beauty, nature’s best, Hokkaido’s treasure, a true test.

Savor the local fare, From ramen to sake, beyond compare. The city’s warmth, so inviting, A traveler’s heart, forever igniting.

Asahikawa, a destination to behold, Memories made, stories untold. A place to visit, time and again, In Hokkaido’s embrace, a true friend.

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