Hokkaidō, with an area of 83 456km² (22% of Japan), is the northernmost isle of Japan. Sapporo, its economic and political centre, is also the 5th biggest town in Japan. It's accessible by plane, shinkansen (high-speed train), ferry or coach, from Honshū (main island). The climate is warm and pleasant in summer, cool in spring and autumn and verry cold in winter, with snow in plenty, particularly adapted to winter sports. Hokkaidō is mainly known for its luxuriant nature but it also has a rich past historic and culture. The former Ezo is the land of the Ainu (literally, Humans), the first tribe to colonize this island and the south of the Sakhalin island. From the 15th century, Japanese began to come to the isle. The snow festival of Sapporo is maybe the more spectacular winter festival hivernal, with all sizes snow and ice scultpures. It has been initiated in 1950, by secondary school students, in Odori-kōen park and it now welcome 3 million of people. Concerning the History of Hokkaidō and the Ainu culture, let's visit :
Museum of Hokkaidō, in Sapporo. You'll discover there the History, the culture and the natural environnement of the isle, from prehistory to nowadays, and of course, the Ainu tribe.
Shell mound of Kitakogane, in Date. This site date from the beginning of the Jōmon period (-5 000 to -3 500).
Jōmon cultural centre of Hakodate, in Hakodate.
Archeological Site of Ōfune Jōmon, in Hakodate. This national historical site date from -3 500.
Kaitaku no Mura, in Sapporo. This historical village presents life in the 19th and 20th century in Hokkaidō.
Sapporo Pirka Kotan, in Sapporo. You'll discover there Ainu culture and learn to create a mukkuri, Ainu folk musical instrument.
Ainu National Museum (Upopoi), in Shiraoi.
Hakodate municipal museum of northern tribes, in Hakodate.
As for natural sites, here is a non exhaustive list.
Peninsula and coast of the Natural park of Shiretoko, UNESCO world heritage since 2005.
Géoparks of lake Tōya-ko and Usu-zan volcano.
The 12 wetlands classified in the Ramsar convention, like Kushiro Shitsugen, Utonai-ko and Sarobetsu Genya, where you'll see water birds.
The 6 national parks of Hokkaidō : Shikotsu Tōya Kokuritsu Kōen, Daisetsuzan Kokuritsu Kōen, Rishiri Rebun Sarobetsu Kokuritsu Kōen, Akan Kokuritsu Kōen, Kushiro Shitsugen Kokuritsu Kōen and Shiretoko Kokuritsu Kōen, as well as the 5 quasi national parks designed natural sites for there scenic beauty : Ōnuma Kokutei Kōen, Niseko Shakotan Otaru Kaigan Kokutei Kōen, Hidaka Sanmyaku Erimo Kokutei Kōen, Shokanbetsu Teuri Yagishiri Kokutei Kōen and Abashiri Kokutei Kōen.
The national marine park of Cape Kamui, in the Shakotan peninsula.
Mishima Sanno Shibazakura Kōen garden, in Kutchan. This private garden, opened to the public, is well-known for its pink phlox (shibazakura, Phlox subulata), yellow rape flowers (nanohana) and its view on mount Yōtei-zan.
Higashimokoto Shibazakura Kōen, in Ōzora. This park is well-known in Hokkaidō for its pink and white phlox (shibazakura, Phlox subulata).
Lake Akan-ko, in Kushiro. It's well-known for the marimo (Cladophora sauteri or Aegagropila linnaei), green spongy balls of filamentous alga that come to surface when the sun shine.
Japanese Cranes International Center of Akan and the observation center Tanchō Kansatsu Sentā, in Kushiro.
Finally, for those who love original activities, you can come on board an icebreaker to discover sea birds like white tailed sea eagles (Haliaeetus albicilla), go on a cruise to see sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus), dolphins, killer whales, petrels, and so on, or fly over heart shaped lake Toyoni-ko, in helicopter.