Top Choice Cultural in Sapporo

Sapporo Yuki Matsuri

Held in early February, this is one of Japan's top festivals. From humble beginnings in 1950, when local high-school students built six snow statues in Ōdōri-kōen, the festival now hosts an international snow sculpt…
Beer in Sapporo

Sapporo Summer Matsuri

The big names plus microbrewers set up outdoor beer gardens in Ōdōri-kōen from mid-July to mid-August. A whole month of beer drinking in the sun! During the mid-August, weeklong Obon Festival, part of the summer mat…
Cultural in Furano

Hokkai Heso Matsuri

Taking its humorous nickname, Heso-no-machi (Belly-Button Town), to heart, Furano celebrates the 'navel festival' on 28 and 29 July. If you're in town, take the opportunity to strip off, have a silly face painted on…
Cultural in Asahikawa

Kotan Matsuri

Held on the autumn equinox in September on the banks of the Chubestu-gawa, south of the city. There are traditional Ainu dances, music and prayer ceremonies offered to the deities of fire, the river, kotan (the vill…
Cultural in Asahikawa

Asahikawa Winter Matsuri

Held every February and into its sixth decade, Asahikawa's winter festival is second only to Sapporo's. The International Ice Sculpture Competition is a highlight, along with local food and fun events.
Cultural in Hakodate

Hakodate Port Festival

Held in early August, thousands of locals gather to perform traditional dances in the streets, including Hakodate's signature squid dance.
Cultural in Abashiri

Okhotsk Drift Ice Festival

An opportunity to celebrate the cold! Ice sculptures and statues, illuminated at night, plus lots of warm sake to keep your blood flowing.
Sports in Wakkanai

Japan Cup Dogsled Race

The biggest dogsled race in Japan takes place early in February and winds through some truly inhospitable frozen terrain (dress warmly!). Local buses (¥280) run to Ōnuma and a free shuttle bus operates between the b…
Wine in Furano

Furano Wine Matsuri

This harvest festival held on the third Sunday in September offers all kinds of drink and food tastings, along with events. In an effort towards sustainability, organisers ask festival-goers to bring their own chops…
Cultural in Hakodate

Goryō-kaku Sai

Over the third weekend in May, participants parade through the streets in period dress, in honour of the soldiers who took part in the Meiji Restoration battle of 1868.