Southern Hokkaido [道南]

The southwest part of Hokkaido is Oshima Peninsula like a tail of fish.
And, the region to the south of Sapporo and the peninsula are mountainous.

In Japanese, this region is called "Donan" meaning southern Hokkaido.

There are not many cities in this region.
But Hakodate and Otaru is the historic cities.

And there are a few active volcanos and the lakes created by the volcanos.
They are the famous scenic spots.

In Addition, there are popular ski resorts such as Niseko in this region.

Because the coastline curves widely, the routes of the railway and main roads make a detour.
And, the route connecting Sapporo and Hakodate is basically only one which runs along the round bay (Uchiura Bay).

Therefore, it takes time to travel around this region.

Hotels in Southern Hokkaido

Hotels in Otaru Hotels in Hakodate Hotels in Niseko



  • To Hakodate from Tokyo : By Shinkansen, 4.0 to 4.5 hours.
  • To Hakodate from Sapporo : By JR limited express, 4 hours.
  • To Otaru from Sapporo : By JR local train, 50 minutes.

Express bus

  • To Hakodate from Sapporo : 5.5 to 6.0 hours.
  • To Otaru from Sapporo : 70 minutes.
  • To Niseko from Sapporo : 3.0 to 3.5 hours.


Shin-Chitose Airport official website Hakodate Airport official website (only Japanese)

Main events in Southern Hokkaido

Hakodate morning market (Every day)

Hakodate morning market is one of famous ones in Japan.
It is called "Hakodate Asaichi" in Japanese.

It is located close to the JR Hakodate station, and there are over 100 Most shops sell fish or marine product, and the other shops sell vegetables, meat, etc.

The opening time is 5:00 in the morning (6:00 in winter) every day, and most shops close at 12:00.

Hakodate Asaichi

Otaru Yuki-akari no Michi [Otaru Snow Light Path] (Early February)

It is an event held mainly in canal area, Temiya Line area and Asarigawa Onsen area in Otaru city.
It has been held since 1999.

Many candles are put on the snow along the street, and fantastic candlelight illumine the snow.

This event is held for ten days every year, and lightning is at 17:00 every day.

Local foods and products in Southern Hokkaido

Sashimi of ika (squid) in Hakodate

Hakodate is a base fishing port in southern Hokkaido.
So a lot of fish are landed.

Therefore we can eat many fresh fish here.

Especially, ika (squid) provides the greatest share of fish catches.
Many Japanese say "Eat squid at Hakodate, when you travel there".

It is served by chopped the body of a raw squid into thin strings, which is milky white and semi-transparent.
Additionally the sashimi chopped particularly thin is called ika-somen (Somen is a kind of Japanese thin noodle).

Generally sashimi is dipped in shoyu (soy sauce) with wasabi in Japan, but this is dipped in light shoyu and grated ginger in Hakodate.

Sushi in Otaru

Sushi in Otaru (IMGP1231, Photo by darashi)

Sushi is a popular Japanese food and you can eat it everywhere in Japan.

Otaru is the oldest harbor city in Hokkaido, and very fresh fishes are caught in the Sea of Japan around Otaru.

When Otaru Canal was renovated in 1986, current "Sushi bar street" is formed, then many sushi bars were opened.
Now, there are about 120 sushi bars in Otaru.

As the fish for sushi, "shako" (mantis shrimp), fresh "uni" (sea urchin) and "nishin" (herrings) are distinctive.

Return to Hokkaido prefecture

Other regions in Hokkaido

The climate in Otaru

[Monthly average temperature & rainfall (1981-2010)]
Mo. High ℃ Low ℃ Rain (㎜)
Jan -0.7 -6.1 142
Feb -0.1 -5.8 106
Mar 3.7 -2.6 83
Apr 10.8 2.6 57
May 16.4 7.5 56
Jun 20.1 12.1 46
Jul 23.7 16.6 79
Aug 25.6 18.4 118
Sep 21.9 13.9 126
Oct 15.7 7.6 130
Nov 8.1 1.4 147
Dec 1.7 -3.7 141

The climate in Hakodate

[Monthly average temperature & rainfall (1981-2010)]
Mo. High ℃ Low ℃ Rain (㎜)
Jan 0.7 -6.2 77
Feb 1.5 -5.9 59
Mar 5.3 -2.6 59
Apr 11.8 2.6 70
May 16.5 7.5 84
Jun 19.9 12.1 73
Jul 23.4 16.6 130
Aug 25.8 18.7 154
Sep 22.7 14.1 153
Oct 16.8 7.4 100
Nov 9.7 1.4 108
Dec 3.3 -3.5 85