Hokkaido, the northernmost of Japan’s main islands, is known for its volcanoes, natural hot springs (onsen) and ski areas. Rugged Daisetsuzan National Park is home to steaming, volcanic Mount Asahi.

Hokkaido’s area of over 83,000 square metre, makes it ‘the big island’, making up 22% of the total land area of Japan. Four distinctive seasons provide a range of characteristics, various scenery, activities and food. The nature here is majestic, and attracts visitors from all over the world.

The Okhotsk coast of Hokkaido is the only place in Japan where drift ice can be seen. It is also the southernmost point in the northern hemisphere that drift ice reaches.  Drift ice consists of gigantic pieces of ice covering the sea. Fresh water enters the sea from rivers and lowers the salt concentration in the water, causing it to freeze. If we are lucky enough to be in Hokkaido in February or March, we can see the ice which brings with it phytoplankton that supports its own eco-system, including the feeding of seals, seabirds, white-tailed eagles, salmon.

Visiting Hokkaido provides the opportunity to learn about the Ainu, the indigenous people of Japan who reside predominantly in Hokkaido. While the current size of the Ainu population is not large, their art and culture have a profound influence on Hokkaido residents. Japan is currently passing legislation to officially recognise the Ainu people of Hokkaido.

With Japanese being the most often taught language in Australian schools, our Hokkaido excursions provide a unique opportunity to meld outdoor activity and all the benefits that provides, in an area of magnificent natural surrounds, with a language and cultural immersion experience.

We have developed a range of outdoor activities to suit a variety of outcomes. All excursions are designed to suit you, your students and your required outcomes.

Below you will find some sample itineraries to get you started.

Price: Price on application

Duration: 7 Nights/ 8 Days

Trek ratingsActivity 3 / Conditions 2 / Accommodation 2-3 / Training/Preparation 3

Best Season: Refer individual sample itineraries

Country Visited: Japan

Trip Start: Sapporo

Trip Ends: Sapporo

Trip Style: Guided Trekking, Cycle Trekking & Cultural

Activity: Trail Trekking / Cycling / Cultural Activities / Japanese Language

Activity Per Day: Refer individual sample itineraries

Step 1: Choose your main activity:

  • Trekking
  • Cycling


Step 2: Choose your supplementary activities:

  • Kayaking / Canoeing
  • Mountain biking
  • Day hiking
  • Snowshoeing
  • Cross country skiing


Step 3: Choose your cultural activities:

  • Ainu cultural experience – dance lessons, performances, seminar, craft experiences
  • Culinary Activity – soba making, mochi making, miso making, farm visit
  • Community interaction – spend time with a local community, supporting work with elderly, community centre, music activities, snow clearing)
  • Eco village experience – sustainability workshops, tiny house living, seminar sessions, fruit picking
  • Culture Activity – tea ceremony, kimono, shrine visit, karate experience, ninja experience
  • Onsen (hot springs)


Step 4: Choose the level of Japanese Language Immersion you require

  • 1-2 lessons
  • 3-4 lessons
  • Full immersion – Activities conducted in Japanese


Best time: May – October

December – March.  Winter activities & camping

Duration: 7 nights / 8 days

Day 1 – New Chitose Airport – Sapporo (Japanese Language Introduction)

Day 2 – Sapporo – Lake Shikotsu Water Day (Kayak/Canoe Activity)

Day 3 – Lake Shikotsu – Makkari Camp Day (Mountain Biking Activity)

Day 4 – Makkari – Shakotan (Hiking Activity Day) – Otaru

Day 5 – Otaru – Tobetsu (Japanese Soba Making & Mochi Making Day)

Day 6 – Sapporo – Japanese Lesson and Ainu Culture Day

Day 7 – Local Hiking Day and Finale Party (Hiking Activity)

Day 8 – Sapporo – New Chitose Airport – New Chitose Airport – Sapporo (Japanese Language Introduction)


Best time: June – September

Duration: 7 nights / 8 days

Day 1 – New Chitose Airport – Asahikawa (Japanese Lesson)

Day 2 – Bus to Start of 7 Day Cycle Abashiri – Shari

Day 3 – Day 2 Cycle Route Shari – Utoro

Day 4 – Day 3 Cycle Route Utoro Area

Day 5 – Day 4 Cycle Route Utoro – Rausu

Day 6 – Day 5 Cycle

Day 7 – Lake Akan – Sapporo (Finale Party)

Day 8 – Sapporo – New Chitose Airport

Best time: December – March

Duration: 7 nights / 8 days

Day 1 – New Chitose Airport – Asahikawa (Japanese Lesson)

Day 2 – Snowshow Mount Asahidake Volcanic Steam Vents (from top of the Ropway) – Drive to Kussharo

Day 3 – Mount Mokoto and Lake Kussharo Snowshoe

Day 4 – Mount Musa Cross Country Ski – Stay Shiretoko

Day 5 – Shiretoko Activities Day

Day 6 – Shiretoko – Lake Akan (Ainu Village)

Day 7 – Lake Akan – Sapporo (Finale Party)

Day 8 – Sapporo – New Chitose Airport

Cross Curriculum Priorities

  • Asia and Australia’s Engagement with Asia
  • Sustainability

General Capabilities

  • Critical & Creative Thinking
  • Identify issues and develop strategies to assist with preparation and the experience itself, including fitness, teamwork & group dynamic. cultural expectations etc.
  • Intercultural Understanding
  • Appreciation and respect of a different culture and recognition of evolution of cultural groups and identities, including Ainu, the indigenous people of Japan.
  • Ethical Understanding
  • Exploring concepts including sustainable living and the disconnection of indigenous peoples.
  • Personal & Social Capability
  • Managing a range of emotions resulting from physical & mental load, developing empathy for others, building relationships, developing self-worth and self-awareness

Subject based

  • Geography
  • Environmental change and management
  • Geographies of human wellbeing
  • Health & Physical Education
  • Food & Nutrition (FN)Health Benefits of Physical Activity (HBPA)
  • Mental Health & Wellbeing (MH)Safety (S)Challenge & Adventure Activities (CA)
  • Language
  • In country experience with Japanese lessons & daily use
  • Civics & Citizenship
  • The key features and values of Australia’s system of government compared with at least ONE other system of government in the Asia region
  • The challenges to and ways of sustaining a resilient democracy and cohesive society


  • Students will receive tailor made Japanese language tuition designed according to their ability from professional teachers, and become more confident using Japanese in daily life situations such as meeting new people, shopping and restaurants
  • An understanding of the sustainability of Hokkaido communities, including the impact of environmental change
  • Inter-cultural appreciation through meeting local people in various communities & an understanding of the Ainu, indigenous peoples of Japan.
  • Concepts of human wellbeing from within a Japanese and Hokkaido context.
  • Observe and experience Hokkaido’s unique eco system, including wildlife, geography and seasonal impacts.
  • Participation in physical activity to a high level, and the impacts on physical and mental health and well-being.
  • Transferrable skills supporting development into active and informed citizens.
  • Increase in confidence through meeting challenges, team work and group work activities.

Luggage & your Pack
You will need a medium pack for this trek. Your luggage will be transferred for you; however it does not join us each night but will be sent a day or two on. This means we carry overnight essentials in our daypacks. We recommend at least 40 litres in volume.

This should also have a good quality hip belt as, even with lighter weights, you may experience discomfort on your shoulders without one. All packs should have a pack cover large enough to protect the pack in the rain.

We recommend you pack light; this is quite easy in Japan, as all inns provide cotton yukata gowns and slippers to wear after arrival, for dining, relaxing, exploring and sleeping. They also provide small towels, soap, shampoo and hairdryers. You don’t need a complete change of clothing for the evening, so it really is possible to manage with just a medium daypack to carry overnight essentials. 

Your luggage should be in a soft bag, easy for transporting.

Your Boots
Although you can stagger the purchase of much of your equipment, taking advantage of sales and special offers, we recommend that you buy good quality boots sooner rather than later. No matter how much training you do, if your feet aren’t happy, the rest of you won’t be either.

Ensure that you are correctly fitted and take plenty of time on boot selection. You have a wide range of choice, however the main decision you will make is whether to buy synthetic or leather – both have advantages and disadvantages. Synthetic boots are lighter and will dry more quickly. Leather boots will stay dry longer but will also take longer to dry once they are wet. They will be harder wearing and last longer than synthetic boots. You should take advice from your supplier.

The most important thing is that you need to break your foots in. A blister on a training walk in Australia is far less of a problem to you than when you are trekking, as your enjoyment can be severely impacted. Get on top of this before you leave for your trek!

As important is your sock selection. There is no right or wrong here – you need to discover for yourself what sort of socks suit you. Again, try them out during your training before you leave. Problems in Australia are generally simple ones – equipment can be changed here, but not on the track!


Is this a guided or self-guided trip?

This trip includes the services of a Getaway Trekking leader. Maps and itinerary instructions are provided to all trekkers; however your leader will take responsibility for directions, and for transfers at various points.

What support do we have?

Throughout this expedition we have access to our local operator to troubleshoot if problems arise. There is also a vehicle to take your luggage to various points on the track, so all we need to carry is a small/medium pack with overnight essentials.

What is the accommodation like?

We will stay in a combination of Minshuku (Family-run Guesthouse), Onsen Ryokan (Hot-spring Travellers Inn), Shukubo (Pilgrims Lodging) and hotels. This will provide a unique opportunity to sample Japanese culture.

What is the food like?

No matter where we take you, food is an important component of any Getaway Trekking trip. Japan is no exception, and indeed, food on this trek is one of the highlights.

Japanese food is a favourite for many, fresh ingredients and beautifully prepared. For those looking for a taste of home, western food is also available at some places.

All meals are outlined within the Itinerary. 

Best time to Travel

Recommended from April to November