Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido is a land filled with fairy-tale wilderness in winter, with the snow producing some of the most gorgeous landscapes!

Here, we will feature some of the most popular spots where you can witness winter wonders, such as Hokkaido animals, sightseeing trains, and boats that can only be enjoyed during the cold months.

1. Retro Steam Locomotive SL Fuyu-no-Shitsugen Train

The SL Fuyu-no-Shitsugen Train is a sightseeing train that winds through the Kushiro Marsh, a designated national park. It operates for a limited time from January to February every year and has become part of Kushiro’s tradition.

The scene as it blows smoke and barrels through the snow on the railroad tracks is a sight to behold. The boarding time is around 90 minutes one way between Kushiro Station and Shibecha Station.

Beer, coffee, snacks, sweets, original merch, and more are also sold on the train.

In addition, the cabins will be renovated in January 2022. You can enjoy the charm of the SL train even more.

During winter, many of the trees have already shed their leaves, providing an unobstructed view of the gorgeous land. From inside the train, you will have more chances to see Japanese cranes, a special monument that lives in Kushiro Marsh.

Featured in the 1000-yen bill, the Japanese crane is a familiar existence in Japanese people’s lives, and seeing one in the wild might make for a valuable experience.

2022 Operation
*This information is current as of November 2021. It is subject to change.
・Dates: January 22, 23, 28 – 30, February 4 – 13, 18 – 20, 23 – 27, March 4 – 6, 11 – 13, 18 – 21, 2022
・Departure/arrival times: Kushiro – Shibecha (departs at 11:05 – 12:35), Shibecha – Kushiro (departs at 14:00 – 15:42) * Stops: Higashi Kushiro Station, Kushiro Shitsugen Station, Tangoro Station, Chikanuma Station
・Fare: Kushiro Station – Shibecha Station, all reserved seats, one-way: 2,970 yen (1,290 yen for a ticket + 1,680 yen for a reserved seat ticket) (*Children are half-price.)
・TEL: 011-222-7111 (JR Hokkaido Directory Assistance Center)

Measures against Covid-19
All customers are required to wear masks. The train is regularly disinfected. The interior is ventilated (the doors between the deck and passenger rooms are open).

2. Hot-Tubbing Monkeys at Hakodate City Tropical Botanical Garden

Located in Hakodate City’s hot spring district, the Tropical Botanical Garden features around 300 tropical plants species. It is easily accessible as it is a two-minute walk from the Nettai Shokubutsuen-mae bus stop. This botanical garden is well-known…

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