when one says Hokkaido it meant cooler summer and icy winters in this Northern island of Japan. i was there in September, Japan's climate was in transition from summer to autumn. but temperature was already reaching 9 degrees Celsius. now it's reaching negative degrees.
like most of my trips, i woke up five in the morning to experience local life. only to find that there was almost no one walking outside the streets of Obihiro, like a dead city. sun was already out that early, but there were only few taxis moving around.
walked around the town center passing by empty parks and large lawns, a contrast to Tokyo's busy streets. Hokkaido's capital city is Sapporo, also the island's busiest area. the 1972 Winter Olympics was held there.Hokkaido, though far from Tokyo is also connected to the main island of Honshu through the Seikan Tunnel. thus, one has the option to travel by land and underwater crossing the Tsugaru strait. but what captured my attention the most was those white pine trees. at first look, it looked like its leaves were already covered with snow but not on a season where summer is just ending. i've never seen one before.
a closer look at the tree showed that its leaves are itself white. a pine tree, unique to certain countries that includes Japan. from January to February, almost the entire island of Hokkaido is under thick snow.outside downtown Obihiro, are wide flat areas of farms and majority of Hokkaido's land area are mountains including five active volcanoes. making it an island also known for Onsen, hot spring bath. something one should not miss when in Hokkaido.
how to get there:
by plane: take a domestic flight from any Japan airport to Tokachi-Obihiro Airport
by train: take the JR line from major Japan train station to JR Obihiro station with scenic views of the mountains of Hokkaido.
city walk: 3.5
overall escape factor: 4.0
42^ 52" 22' N
143^ 12" 20' E