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Hokkaido: Trip to a Healing Island

Healing is essential for university students who are living a monotonous life with never-ending assignments and exams. Luckily, there are great vacation opportunities in October: the Korean Thanksgiving Day Chuseok that has up to 10 days of vacation and the season right after the midterm exams. If Kingos are planning to go abroad for a few days, the Sungkyun Times (SKT) recommends a short trip to Hokkaido, the Japanese island. Compared to crowded cities like Tokyo or Osaka, Kingos can enjoy the magnificent nature and tranquil atmosphere. The SKT introduces a short healing travel guide to Hokkaido.

Hokkaido

What is Hokkaido?

Hokkaido, the second largest island in Japan, covers about 20% of the whole country. It is in the northernmost point of Japan, meeting the Sea of Okhotsk in the northeast, the Pacific Ocean in the east, and Korea’s East Sea in the west. Hokkaido is very cold and snowy in the winter and unaffected by the rainy season in the summer unlike other regions. It is also cool during the summer. For example, when the temperature is 35℃ in Tokyo, it is around 26℃ in Hokkaido.

The island is well-known for its various natural scenery including hot springs, national parks, and lakes. Hokkaido is also popular for seafood like salmon and crab. It is easy to find restaurants that unlimitedly provide snow crabs at a low cost. Not only that, but dairy products such as cheese, milk, and ice cream are also popular.

Hokkaido was originally settled by the Ainu people. Since the Meiji Period (1868-1912), the era when Emperor Meiji ruled Japan and attempted to modernize the nation, however, the Japanese began to move to the island and developed the area. As a result, only 20,000 Ainu people are currently left.

Keep in Mind!

The SKT will provide a guide to tourist attractions in or near Sapporo, the largest city in Hokkaido. The guide will be suitable for short trips in the middle of the semester.

Healing Spots in Hokkaido

Shakotan

Shakotan is a coastal area located in the northwest of Hokkaido. According to the Ainu language, the word Shakotan means “summer village”.

▶Tourist Attraction: Cape Kamui

Cape Kamui is a cape that stretches to the ocean and the name refers to the “Cape of God” in the Ainu language. In the past, the place was regarded as being sacred and women were forbidden to go to the cape because of the belief that the ocean becomes rough if a woman goes near.

Walking along the cliff road heading to the west, travelers will arrive at the edge of the cliff, which is about 800m away. There is a small lighthouse close to the edge and the vertical cliff is about 80m above sea level. The Shakotan Ocean is spread out beneath the cliff and as the color of the water is quiet blue and clear, it is difficult to distinguish it from the sky. The Japanese call this color shakotan blue.

▶Interesting Fact!

There is an ice cream store beside Cape Kamui, selling ice cream at around \4,000. The ice cream is special in that it has the beautiful color of shakotan blue. Kingos should be aware that the ice cream melts quickly, as it consists only of milk!

Near the Edge of the Cliff

Otaru

Otaru is a port city lying to the west of Hokkaido. It used to be the most prosperous place before World War II. The word Otaru means sandy beach in the Ainu language.

▶Tourist Attraction: Otaru Canal

From 1914 to 1923, the Otaru Canal was constructed as the city was a large trade port. The canal was 1.3km in length and 40m in width, and ships passed along the canal to distribute cargo. In 1986, people made a boardwalk beside the canal, allowing the canal to become a representative tourist attraction in Otaru. Tourists can find stone buildings and 88 old gas lamps beside the canal.

▶Interesting Fact!

Kingos may easily see rickshaw men near the Otaru Canal. It costs \30,000 for a 15 minutes ride around the canal.

Buildings beside the Canal

Noboribetsu

Noboribetsu is known as the best hot spring and spa area in Japan. What is special about Noboribetsu is that there are nine different types of hot spring that gush out from the mountains. Among the hot springs, the most prominent one is a sulfur hot spring. According to the Ainu language, Noboribetsu means turbid river, and it is assumed that the native people called it this because the sulfur hot spring looks like a murky sulfur river.

▶Tourist Attraction: Jigokudani (Hell Valley)

Jigokudani is a valley with sulfur hot springs. It is also known as the “hell valley” because the hot sulfurous streams and the hills that became orange due to the sulfur remind people of hell. 3,000 liters of hot spring water gush out every minute and there are still volcanic activities. If travelers follow a walking trail for about 10 minutes, they will see a small hot sulfurous pond that gives a mysterious atmosphere. Bubbles and smoke come out from the pond and the water is about 130℃.

▶Interesting Fact!

Kingos may detect a very eggy smell in Jigokudani because of the sulfur. The whole valley is full of the strong odor.

Small Sulfurous Pond

Sapporo

Sapporo is a big city with two million citizens. It is the fifth largest city in Japan and the central part of Hokkaido. The city is located in southwest Hokkaido and the meaning of Sapporo in the Ainu language is “dry and wide land”.

▶Tourist Attraction: Sapporo Beer Museum

Sapporo Beer Museum is the only beer museum in Japan. The museum displays videos that show the history of Sapporo beer, the ingredients, and the manufacturing process. There are also advertising posters and beer labels that were used in the past. The building of the museum is built of red bricks and it was the original Sapporo Beer brewery at that time. The museum is considered as a valuable cultural asset. In fact, Sapporo beer was first produced after the government inherited the beer technology from Germany during the Meiji Period. Therefore, Sapporo beer and the museum cherish the history of the Meiji Period.

Tourists get the special opportunity to taste the Kaitakushi beer, which is manufactured with the original recipe. It is only available at this museum and the cost of a bottle is about \3,000. People can also taste Sapporo Classic. It is only found in Hokkaido and it is around \2,000.

▶Interesting Fact!

There is an old copper beer fermenter displayed in the museum. The size is very big. If a person drinks the size of a can every day from the fermenter, it may take 600 years to drink all of the beer!

Kaitakushi and Sapporo Classic Beer
Sapporo Beer Museum

Hokkaido is the perfect place for a healing vacation. The SKT suggests this wonderful island to Kingos who want to refresh themselves with a change of scene.

김하은  haeun047@naver.com

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