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180512 Beautiful Cherry Blossoms

Cities covered: Tomakomai, Tokachigawa, Akanko, Abashiri, Sounkyo, Noboribetsu, Hokodate, Toya-ko, Otaru, & Sapporo

Itinerary, Departures, & Destinations

B: Breakfast | L: Lunch | D: Dinner | SD: Special Dinner

Day 1**May 12 | Honolulu – Chitose
We begin our journey by boarding an international flight to Hokkaido, Japan’s second largest island and northernmost prefecture.  Meals and snacks will be served on the plane.

Day 2**May 13 | Chitose Tomakomai
Upon arrival at New Chitose International Airport in Sapporo, we will meet with an Air and Sea Travel representative who will escort us to our hotel in Tomakomai.

Day 3**May 14 |Tomakomai – Tokachigawa – Lake Akan  |  (B, L, D)
This morning, we will transfer to Togachi plain, Hokkaido’s food basket.  Our first stop is Hanabatake Farm and Cheese Factory.  The farm cares for its Jersey cows without stressing them and by raising them as much as possible in a natural environment in order to produce the best milk.  They also maintain the tradition of handmade cheeses.  Next we drive to Lake Akan (Akanko), a beautiful crater lake in Akan National Park and one of the clearest lakes in the world.  It is home to marimo, a rare algae species that forms itself into beautiful green balls.  The algae have been designated a National Special Natural Monument.  After a Local Flavor Set Lunch, we will take a sightseeing cruise on Lake Akan.  There are lakeside hot spring resorts around the lake and the largest Ainu Village (Ainu Kotan) in Hokkaido is nearby.    Enjoy some souvenir shops along the hotel area.  We will have a Welcome Dinner at the hotel.

Akan Onsen is a neutral hypotonic high-temperature spring.  It is said to soothe fatigue, rheumatism, sprains, stiff shoulders, neuralgia, muscle pain, and arthralgia. 

Day 4**May 15 | Lake Akan – Abashiri – Sounkyo | (B, L, D)
We start our morning by driving to Abashiri.  Today’s highlight is flower viewing.  Our first stop is Higashimokoto Shibazakura ParkWhat is Shibazakura?  Shiba means “lawn” and Zakura means “sakura” (cherry blossom).  It is cherry blossoms that lie on the ground, which is different from viewing traditional Japanese cherry blossoms on trees. The Shibazakura of Higashimokoto comes in variety of colors.  Although light pink shibazakura dominates most of the areas of the hillside, there are also white, light purple and red moss phloxes.  The first thing that comes to our mind is a pink carpet crafted by a million of moss phloxes.  Abashiri is a city abundant with seasonal seafood available throughout the year, and so we can enjoy a Seafood Hot Pot lunch.  Then we will go to the Okhotsk Ryuhyo Museum, famous for its permanent display of drift ice for tourists to see and touch.  A simulated drift ice environment will allow us to experience what negative 15 degrees Celsius feels like.  The four seasons of Okhotsk can be seen in a HI-vision theater.  Later, we will transfer to Kamiyubetsu Park where 200 varieties of colorful tulips vividly bloom in the vast 7 hectare (17 acres) garden.  From May 1 to early June every year, when late spring comes to the Okhotsk area, the Tulip Fair is held in the park, attracting many tourists.  After that, we will transfer to another paradise of Shibazakura that hosts a yearly festival called Takinoue Shibazakura Park.  This park would have been ignored by millions of visitors if this lovely five petal flower (which resembles sakura) had not bloomed in spring.  Even though many visitors to Hokkaido don’t know much of its spring beauty, it is arguably beautiful and worth a visit.  On the way to Sounkyo hotel, we will drive through part of Daisetsuzan, the largest national park in Japan that consists of three volcanic mountain groups.  The park is known for its alpine meadows, remote backcountry and its wildlife, several of which are rare species.  Then we will check in at the Sounkyo Onsen Resort, located in a narrow valley within the park.  Relax at the Hot Spring tonight, and we will explore more spectacular views at the famous Sounkyo Gorge tomorrow.  A special “Mountain-River’s Four Season” Banquet is arranged for tonight.

Sounkyo Onsen contains minerals such as hydrogen sulfide, salt, and iron.  Its water is neutral and is said to be good for people suffering from hypertension and arteriosclerosis.

Day 5**May 16 | Sounkyo – Noboribetsu | (B, L, D)
In the morning, we will visit the Sounkyo Gorge.  This 12.4-mile gorge contains spectacular 100 meter (328 feet) jagged cliffs and gorgeous waterfalls, also known as the “Roof of Hokkaido.”  We will also see the beautiful Ginga Waterfall and Ryusei Waterfall, collectively referred to as “husband-and-wife falls” in Japanese.  Then we will stop at the Otokoyama Sake Brewery & Museum.  Otokoyama is a well known sake brand both within Japan and worldwide.  The museum is comprehensive in covering the rich sake brewing heritage, as well as the ancient sake-related literature and art.  Enjoy Sake Tasting and the special gift shop.  A Japanese Set Lunch is arranged.  We will visit a historical temple, the Usu Zenkoji.  This temple was built to enshrine a statue of Principal Buddha Amitabha, hand-carved by Buddhist priest Ennin in the year 826.  The temple was damaged in Mount Usu’s eruption in 1822 and various precious treasures and records were lost, but in recent years it has been restored to its original condition.  In 1974, Zenkoji was designated as a National Important Cultural Asset.  The 190 year old Ezo Yamazakura is called Ishikari Cherry Tree, and is designated as a memorial protection tree of Hokkaido. また公園内は1000本の各種桜が順次咲くため、長期間にわたって花見を楽しむことができる。 In addition, 1000 cherry blossoms in the park bloom sequentially, so we can enjoy the cherry blossoms for a long time.  On the way to Noboribetsu, we will drive through the Cherry Blossom Avenues.  Lines of approximately 2000 cherry blossom trees provide a warm welcome for visitors to Noboribetsu Onsen village.  These trees, which have been planted with loving care by the local community, turn the roads leading to Noboribetsu Onsen and Karurusu Onsen into tunnels of flowers.  One of the special cherry blossoms is located at this area – Prunus Sargentii, also known as Sargent’s cherry.  例年の桜の見頃は5月上旬~6月on the way to o  Later we will stop at the Jigokudani or “Hell Valley,” a main source of Noboribetsu’s hot spring waters.  It is a spectacular valley just above the Town of Noboribetsu Onsen with displays of hot steam vents, sulfurous streams and other volcanic activity.  We will have a relaxing time at the Noboribetsu Onsen, Hokkaido’s most famous hot spring resort.  It offers as many as eleven different kinds of thermal waters that are considered among Japan’s best and most effective.  A Buffett Dinner will be arranged for tonight.

Noboribetsu Onsen contains many minerals such as hydrogen sulfide, salt, and iron.  Its water is neutral to weakly acidic.  It is said to be good for hypertension and arteriosclerosis.  The relaxing atmosphere will refresh you during your trip.

Day 6**May 17 | Noboribetsu – Hakodate | (B, L, D)
In the morning, we will visit at the Noboribetsu Marine Park Nixe.  Modeled after a Danish castle, it is one of the largest aquariums in northern Japan.  In addition to the 4-story high marine aquarium, the popular Penguin Parade is a show you cannot miss.  All the adorable penguins are bound to create lasting memories!  We will have the Sukiyaki Hot Pot for lunch.  The soup provides good sources of protein that can keep you full and warm.  Afterwards we will go to Hakodate, the 3rd largest city of Southern Hokkaido.  We will move on to Hokkaido Konbu Kan, a dome-shaped museum where you can learn about Konbu (laminaria) including its history, production, and the role it plays in Hokkaido’s lifestyle and industry.  Then we will head to Mt. Hakodate (Hakodate-yama), a 334 meter high, wooded mountain with a 9 kilometer circumference at the southern end of the peninsula.  Because of its location, Mt. Hakodate is considered one of the spots where we have the most beautiful Night View in the world.  Tonight we will take the Ropeway to the top of the mountain to enjoy the glittering city view right in front of our eyes. For dinner, we will have a Hearty Buffet at the Onsen Resort.  Later we can relax and rejuvenate at a traditional outdoor Hot Spring in Yunokawa.

Yunokawa Onsen is rich in sodium-calcium chloride.  Its water is neutral to weakly alkaline, transparent, odorless and soft on the skin.  It is said to be good for soothing fatigue, rheumatism, sprains, stiff shoulders, back problems and gastroenteric disorders.

Day 7**May 18 | Hakodate – Lake Toya | (B, L, D)
In the morning, we will go to Hakodate’s Famous Morning Market which opens daily from 5am to noon.  The market has more than 360 tightly-packed stalls offering a variety of fresh seafood and produce.  Our tour will include activities such as Fishing for Squid and Tasting.  We will also have the chance to see the “Dancing Tako.”  After that, let’s enjoy cherry blossom viewing at Fort Goryokaku.  Fort Goryokaku is a massive, star shaped, Western style citadel, which was built in the last years of the Edo Period for the defense of Hakodate against the imperialist threat posed by the Western powers.  A few years later, the fort became the site of a civil war between an army of the shogunate and the superior troops of the newly established Meiji government.  After the fort lost its military importance, it was eventually turned into a public park in the 1910’s.  Over one thousand cherry trees were planted along its moats, making it one of Hokkaido’s best cherry blossom viewing spots.  After enjoying the beautiful cherry blossom viewing, we will transfer to Lake Toya.   Special Salmon Chanchan Yaki will be arranged for today’s lunch.  Then we transfer to Showa Shinzan which is one of Japan’s youngest mountains.  Still venting sulfurous fumes today, Showa Shinzan stands directly next to Mount Usu, which bears responsibility for the new mountain’s birth.  We can get good views of the young volcano by taking the Usuzan Ropeway.  Then we will return to our onsen resort to enjoy our Dinner.  The Toya-ko region features an active volcano and Hot Springs available to us any time in our resort.  After dinner, we will view the spectacular Fireworks from the lake (weather permitting).

 Toya-ko Hot Spring contains sodium chloride and hydrogen sulfide.  Its water is neutral to weakly alkaline. It is said to be good to soothe fatigue, beautify skin, and help replenish skin’s natural protectants.

Day 8**May 19 | Lake Toya – Sapporo | (B, D)
Today highlight is in Sapporo.  Upon arrival, we will first stop at the Hokkaido Shrine constructed in 1870 in Sapporo as an interim building of the shrine for three deities of the Hokkaido reclamation.  Don’t forget the cherry blossoms viewing too.  Next we will stop at the Duty Free Shop to find special souvenirs for our family and friends.  After shopping, we will stop at the Shiroi Koibito (White Lover’s Chocolate), which is famous for white chocolate and other related products.  Here we will enjoy shopping as well as a factory tour.  Next is Odori Park, which stretches from east to west and divides the city into northern and southern sections.  Throughout the year, many events and ceremonies such as the Sapporo Lilac Festival and the Sapporo Snow Festival are held in the park.  Local landmarks including the Sapporo TV Tower and the Sapporo City Archive Museum are located within its boundaries.  With all the shopping centers, cafes, and restaurants finding a meal is quite easy.   Lunch is on our own and we will have some time to shop in the largest shopping mall in Sapporo, the Tanuki Koji Shopping Arcade.  The unique feature of this 123-year old mall is that we will find traditional merchants selling kimonos, tea or incense side-by-side with modern stores specializing in computer software or state-of-the-art electronics.  A Crab Feast is arranged for our Farewell Dinner.  Local crabs are usually boiled with some salt or broiled.  They have an elegant sweetness and sophisticated flavor.  It is said that the crab is so delicious that Japanese people become silent once they start eating.  Hello hairy crab & king crabs, here I come…..

Day 9**May 20 | Sapporo – Otaru – Chitose Honolulu | (B)
After checking out of our hotel in the late morning, our next destination is Otaru, a small harbor city that served as a major trading and fishing port in the late 1800’s.  Many old warehouses and former office buildings give the city center a special charm reminiscent of past decades.  The Otaru Canal makes for a pleasant stroll.  During the day, artists present their works to passing tourists and in the evenings, old fashioned gas lamps are lit to provide a romantic atmosphere.  Otaru is well known for its beautiful handmade and intricate music boxes.  We will visit the Otaru Music Box Museum to learn about this special local product.  The museum is located in a beautiful century-old red brick building, designated as one of the historic landmarks of Otaru City.  Music boxes in various sizes and types are neatly displayed.  Later in the afternoon, we will visit the Kitaichi Glass Company.  There are three different sales floors: “Western,” “Japanese,” and “Country.”  We will also enjoy a cup of coffee at the elegant café, “Kitaichi Hall,” and keep the special cup as our present.  Then we will transfer to the New Chitose International Airport for our return flight to Honolulu, taking with us lasting memories of a magnificent trip to delightful Hokkaido.

Tour Related Photos



Tour Fee Includes

Tour Package Includes

  • International Flight from HONOLULU on Hawaiian Airlines
  • Cherry Blossom Festival
  • The Best Cherry Blossom Spot in Hokkaido – Fort Goryokaku
  • A Rare Spring Flower in Hokkaido – Shibazakura
  • Tulip Fair – Kamiyubetsu Park
  • Deluxe Hotel Accommodations (based on double occupancy)
  • Admissions and 18 Meals as Stated
  • Natural Hot Springs Ryokan (5 Nights)
  • Local Special Meals Included:
    • Hokkaido Crab Feast
    • Seafood Hot Pot
    • Japanese Kaiseki
    • Salmon Chanchan Taki
  • Boat Cruise on Lake Akan
  • Hokodate Morning Market
  • Shiroi Koibito Park — Chocolate Factory
  • Audio Headset System
  • Gratuity for Tour Guides & Drivers

Payment & Cancellation Policy

Payment Policy:

CHECK OR CASH PAYMENT ONLY.  A deposit of $350 per person is required at the time of application.  The balance is due 70 days prior.  In the event payment balance is not made within the required time period, Air and Sea Travel Center reserves the right to cancel reservations and charge some service fee for cancellation.

Written notice is required for any cancellation.  $350 deposit is non-refundable if you cancel within 70 days before departure.


Within 70 days before departure, the cancellation fee will be as follow:

** 69-31 days prior departure, 50% of total price plus any other service fee caused from the cancellation;
** 30 days prior to departure or withdraw during the tour shall be regarded as willingly give up all rights concerned, 100% of total price, and request for the other service as substitute shall not be accepted.  Also we strongly recommend you to purchase travel insurance when you make a reservation.

Price from: $3,088.00

Includes: Tax and fuel surcharge


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Tour Includes:

Air Fare, Travel, Hotel and Tour Destinations

Itinerary, Departures, & Destinations
Tour Brochure PDF
Tour Related Photos
Tour Fee Includes
Payment & Cancellation Policy
Air Sea & Travel