Japan’s northernmost frontier, Hokkaido is a land of rugged wilderness unparalleled by any of Japan’s other prefectures. It is the largest prefecture of Japan, and in the winter months most of its territory is rendered impassable by a permanent blanket of snow. It’s territory stretches into the 45th parallel on the globe and it is possible to view streams of ocean ice drift by along the northern coast.
In the summer months, where the southern prefectures of Honshu and Kyushu become hot and humid, the cool temperatures of Hokkaido provide a great spring-like escape.
In Hokkaido the roads are often lined with flowers and drivers are exposed to vast views of diverse farmland, quite different from the usual Japanese countrysides, which are often dominated by fields of rice.
The conditions for motorcycling on this island are ideal, and Hokkaido is somewhat of a Mecca for Japanese motorcyclists that live throughout all of the country’s 47 prefectures. Making a trip there and circling the island is seen as a right of passage for motorcyclists who enjoy touring. There is a strong sense of comradery among the motorcyclists making their pilgrimage to Hokkaido, many driving for thousands of kilometers before their trip is finished.
The wilderness in Hokkaido is often very remote and can be accessed if one ventures only slightly off the beaten trail frequented by day-hikers. Brown bears inhabit the hills, and one has to take care not to make any mistakes such as leaving food inside one’s tent at night. Pictured above is a scene from a trail leading through the UNESCO world heritage site of Shiretoko.