Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost island might also be the country’s best-kept secret. What it lacks in densely packed shrines and skyscrapers it more than makes up for in the kind of expansive vistas usually associated with Scandinavia or Patagonia. In fact, even many of the cities have Western style architecture and city planning.

The Japanese only settled the region in the last 100 years, and so the oldest culture belongs to the hunter-gatherer Ainu people.

Mountains, lakes, rivers, and hot springs are the main attractions here, and like other parts of the world with similar assets, Hokkaido has preserved its wilderness with an abundance of National Parks, and even gotten into the spirit-making game.

The expanses of Hokkaido have made it a natural center for Japan’s agriculture and aquaculture. Here you will have the freshest fruit, finest cheese (which can be hard to find in Japan), and a host of family-run farm stands offering a feast of delectable produce.

Touring the region with your local guide is a moveable feast, with the celebration and experience following you from stand to stand, farm to farm, creamery to creamery.

The region also specializes in distinctly Japanese delicacies, like kombu, the complex and distinctive kelp that makes up the foundation of many Japanese dishes. Harvested by hand and dried for weeks, months, or even years, local experts can expand your appreciation for Kombu in ways that go far beyond simple seaweed.

Finish it all off with one of Japan’s increasingly famous whiskeys. Though relatively new to the strong spirit game, Japan has been taking the world by storm, with its whiskeys winning top awards, and pulling back the curtain on a hearty drinking culture that has cheered the country for centuries.

Hokkaido is a favorite summer escape, for its cooler climate and lower humidity, but even in the snowy winter there’s plenty to do with an array of winter sports. Your Ker & Downey consultant can help you reach the far north of Japan and partake of the bounty that awaits.