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Why you absolutely need to visit Hokkaido

4 months ago / travel / japan

Did somebody say GOOD FOOD?

I can't express enough how much Japan means to me, and if you've been a longtime reader of this space, you'd know what I mean. If you are new here, please check out my Japan Travels or #floraisabellejapan on Instagram to see just how much I love the country.

It's not just about the food, or beautiful sights, or how everything just works SO WELL in Japan. It's not even about the impeccable service throughout the country... I think I'm just marvelled by its people. By how they can be so polite, kind, respectful, resilient... and simply almost-perfect as a society.

So when I was invited to the Threats vs Technology: Building Resilient Nations & Businesses panel discussion hosted by the Government of Japan and moderated by Reuters, I jumped at the chance.

In 2018, the World Economic Forum’s Global Risk Report highlighted that extreme weather events and natural disasters are the primary risk to humanity. And, as increasing links between climate change and global warming emerge, so too does the scale of natural disasters – especially in Asia, that’s seen its fair share last year alone.

Security is at the heart of everything we do as businesses, and as nations – especially when it comes to the unpredictable challenges thrown at us by nature. For Asian governments and business communities alike – and across the world - now is the time to stay ahead of these threats, by leveraging the protective power of advanced technologies.

It was a very informative session as the various experts from Japan and Singapore dissected the very latest, innovative solutions available - and how they can help leaders and business decision-makers future-proof themselves in the face of these silent threats.

Did you know that in the last 100 years, there have been only 60 tsunami occurrences? However, they have totaled 260,000 deaths which works out to 4,300 deaths per event. So while it is rare that a tsunami happens, the damage is extremely severe. And as Japan sits on a complicated and tectonically-active zone, it is hence succeptible to earthquakes and tsunamis.

Hokkaido, the second largest island of Japan and the country's largest prefecture, was struck with an earthquake in December 2018. Although there wasn't any associated tsunami (thank goodness!), the 6.7-magnitude quake was still rather powerful and there was significant damage. After the panel discussion, there was a presentation Japan's recent earthquake in Hokkaido & subsequent recovery aptly-titled Hokkaido Now - From Recovery To Prosperity and with the sharing, I found myself DYING to visit Hokkaido.

Here's why!

1) It's the food capital of Japan

Made you drool, didn't I? I find myself CRAVING for uni like CRAZY these days!!!!

When talking about Hokkaido, I'm sure sashimi and seafood like king crabs and uni (sea urchins) come into mind. The island is renowned for tasty local seafood, thanks to the surrounding seas. One-quarter of the farming land and catch of Japan is from Hokkaido.

But if you're not a fan of seafood (how could you?!), don't worry. As the food capital, I'm sure there will be something else up your alley. Super sweet fruits (especially Yubari Melon)? Soft serve ice cream made with Hokkaido milk? Miso ramen? Take your pick.

2) Experience the four seasons

We often associate Hokkaido with snow - and they do get lots of it as the country's northernmost prefecture which makes it perfect for skiing and snowboarding...

Or just building snowmen lol.

BUT did you know that besides the beautiful, powdery snow, you can also enjoy Hokkaido during the other seasons.

via Nazrul bin Buang from Government of Japan

In Hokkaido, you get to see gorgeous tulip, lavender and poppies fields in Spring and stunning fall foliage in Autumn. As for summer, you can visit the beaches and the best part? The hottest it gets is usually around 28°C only!

3) Breathtaking views

I've got to admit, I'm not usually a nature person when it comes to holidays but in Japan, things are just different.

I mean, you get to enjoy views such as,

via Nazrul bin Buang from Government of Japan

THIS...

via Nazrul bin Buang from Government of Japan

AND THIS!!!!

If this doesn't convince you to just book your ticket already, you might want to know that Hokkaido was named by Lonely Planet as the top destination to visit in Asia for 2016. The prefecture offers stunning views of scenic coastlines, snow-capped mountains, and unspoiled nature at its finest.

Here are some other fun facts about Hokkaido!

World cities on the same latitude

The latitude of Hokkaido is about the same as that of Rome (Italy), Boston (the US), and Toronto (Canada) but the winter climate is colder and heavier snowfall, compared with that of other cities on the same latitude.

Land Area

Hokkaido measures 83,456 square km
The land area is 116 times that of Singapore
Hakodate City alone is 677.9 square km versus Singapore is 721.5 square km

Foreign Visitors

The number of tourists has been on the rise every year. In 2011, there was a total of 560,000 visitors to Hokkaido. The number of foreign visitors to Hokkaido in 2017 was 2.8 mil. Hokkaido aims to attract 5 mil visitors by 2020.

Expanding International Airlines

Sapporo, the capital of Hokkaido can now be reached by 19 cities in 9 countries/regions!

Here are some direct flights that have entered service:
2012 Bangkok
2015 Kuala Lumpur
2016 Singapore
2018 Vladivostok
2018 Manila
2019 Finland

Expected Demand for Tourism in future

Year 2020 - Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games
Year 2025 - World EXPO 2025 Osaka, Kansai, Japan
Year 2030 - Sapporo 2030 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games (currently bidding for the games)
Year 2030 - Line extension of Shinkansen Bullet Train toward Sapporo (planned)

Emergency Support Stations for Tourists

In the event of natural disasters (earthquake, typhoon etc) and accidents (blackout, terrorism etc), information and consultation will be made readily available in multiple languages. I remember when I was previous in Tokyo with the JR East Company, I received an earthquake alert via SMS that asked us to take cover (even though we hardly felt anything!).

Other facilities such as charging locations for smartphones and wi-fi spots will also be made available.

Here are some websites you can check out for more info about Hokkaido:

Hokkaido Safety Travel Information: http://safety-travel.jp/

Twitter account of the Hokkaido Tourist Office: @TourismHokkaido

Hokkaido Government Representative Office: http://www.hokkaido-asean.org/

Hokkaido Government Representative Office: Facebook Page