Nov 8th, 2011 | By | Category: Senior Travel

Abundance of Natural Beauty Calls Seniors

The northernmost island of Hokkaido was the final frontier for the citizens of Japan, so it’s only fitting that it’s the final frontier for senior visitors as well. It is picked as one of the hot spots for senior tourists all over the world.

Hokkaido is the second largest, northernmost and least developed of Japan’s four main islands. It is a spacious island located at Japan’s northern extremity with festivals throughout the seasons, a region with an abundance of natural beauty. Its weather is harsh in winter with lots of snowfall, below zero temperatures and frozen seas, while in summer it does not get as hot and humid as in the other parts of the country.

Hokkaido confounds expectations at every turn. While the mainland of Japan has a reputation for being tiny and crowded, Hokkaido is expansive and sparsely populated.  The mainland features typically Asian architecture while the major cities of Hokkaido have a distinct, almost European feel. Hokkaido overflows with natural wonders, from fields of alpine flowers in the summer to breathtaking ice-scapes in the winter months.

Home to Japan’s native Ainu people, Hokkaido continues to represent the untamed wilderness with many great national parks. For many senior visitors the scenery resembles northern Europe, with rice paddies and concrete warrens replacing rolling fields and faux-German cottages.

If you love hot springs like I do, you will love Hokkaido. However, the ubiquitous hot-spring resorts in much of the island serve as a reminder that you are still in Japan. Hokkaido is by far Japan’s largest prefecture, consisting of Japan’s entire northern island and its surrounding islets. Do you enjoy saki? Hokkaido is home to some of Japan’s finest sakes, the most famous being Asahikawa‘s Otokoyama. Beer is also big in Hokkaido, the most famous brand being Sapporo Beer (naturally from Sapporo).  This is the birthplace of Sapporo beer.  Take a look at this cool commercial for BIRU.  The many microbrews found in nearly every town are also worth sampling.

Seniors Discover a Different World

Hokkaido teems with unique wildlife, from giant cranes to bears to mysterious underwater creatures. The skiing is second to none — the winter Olympics were held there in 1972, and the island’s ski resorts continue to host regular ski and snowboard world cups. And did I mention the food?  The salmon and crab is to die for. And thanks to Hokkaido’s abundant pastures, its beef and dairy products are some of the best in Japan — or anywhere else. Whether it’s your first time visiting Japan or you happen to be an old hand, there is something for everyone in Hokkaido. It’s literally a different world.

Here is an interactive map of the region loaded with sites for every taste. TripAdvisor lists 595 things to do in Hokkaido. Do practice up on using chop sticks prior to your visit so that you can eat lots of those unidentified frying objects.  jeb

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  1. […] Japan has had a love affair with its onsen, or hot springs, for thousands of years. Arguably the most famous — and the coolest — is Beppu, on the island of Kyushu where I spent some time. Beppu is both a hot-spring area and the resort town that has grown up around it. Beppu is one of Japan’s most famous hot spring resorts, producing more hot spring water than any other resort in the country. Beppu offers an unmatched range of baths for seniors to enjoy, including ordinary hot water baths, mud baths, sand baths and steam baths. […]

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