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|Updated||September 20, 2013|
Greatest Hokkaido Wallpaper
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Home to Japan’s native Ainu people, Hokkaido continues to represent the untamed wilderness with many great national parks. For many visitors the scenery resembles northern Europe, with rice paddies and concrete warrens replacing rolling fields and faux-German cottages. However, the ubquitous hotspring resorts in much of the island serve as a reminder that you are still in Japan.
Hokkaido is by far Japan’s largest prefecture, consisting of Japan’s entire northern island and its surrounding islets. Hokkaido is cooler than the rest of Japan, and the merciful lack of Japan’s muggy summers and rainy season makes it a very popular domestic destination between May and August. Some of Hokkaido’s inland areas have a continental climate, with large daily and yearly temperature variation.
Most of Hokkaido was settled by the Japanese within the last 100 years, compared to the thousands of years of Japanese history and pre-history. As a result, its architecture and cities are much more modern, and mostly based on western-like grid layouts.
Alone among the main Japanese islands Hokkaido is not divided into multiple prefectures. Instead, there are four circuits (道 dō), which are in turn split into subprefectures (支庁 shichō).
Central Circuit, with capital Sapporo and much of the mountainous interior
Ishikari, Shiribeshi, Sorachi, Iburi and Hidaka subprefectures
Eastern Circuit, the largest and remotest part of the island
Abashiri, Tokachi, Kushiro and Nemuro subprefectures
Northern Circuit, covering the northern peninsula but poking down toward the center
Kamikawa, Rumoi and Soya subprefectures
Southern Circuit, centered on Hakodate
Oshima and Hiyama subprefectures
Sapporo – the capital and by far the largest city in Hokkaido
Abashiri – northern fishing port, home to Japan’s most infamous prison
Asahikawa – the coldest city in Japan (literally)
Chitose – New Chitose Airport, the largest airport in Hokkaido.
Furano – with lavender in the summer and some of the world’s best powder in winter
Hakodate – historical city and the capital of the short-lived Ezo Republic
Kitami – between Saroma and Lake Akan, this city is well known for its peppermint farms
Obihiro – the main city in the Tokachi Plain, one of Japan’s major agricultural belts
Otaru – Hokkaido’s largest port
Wakkanai – Japan’s northernmost city, a major port with many connections to Russia
Yoichi – Home of Nikka’s whiskey distillery
Nemuro – Japan’s easternmost city with views of the disputed Kuril Islands
Biei – the land of beautiful patchwork hills
Niseko – trendy ski destination
Noboribetsu – Hokkaido’s largest hot spring resort
Shizunai – thoroughbreds and beautiful cherry blossoms
Content rating: Low Maturity