Hokkaido in Winter?

Naz

Warming-Up
Sep 5, 2008
10
0
0
Nerima, Tokyo
#1
I'm planning a trip to Hokkaido for a week, sometime around the 2nd week in January, and wanted to know if it's worth taking the cycle up with me :bike:
I really want to see the countryside and hopefully do some climbing/trekking, but I've heard that public transport is really bad up there. Since I can't drive my only other option is to cycle :)

For the people that have been to Hokkaido:

  • Is there any chance of cycling on the mountain roads or will there be too much ice/snow?
  • What areas are the 'best' to visit? While I will probably end up going to Sapporo, I really fancy spending most of my time in the more rural, scenic areas :D
  • How hard is finding accomodation? I don't plan on booking anything beforehand, just grabbing my cycle + backpack and seeing what I can find. Will I be sleeping out in the cold? :eek:
Cheers, Naz.
 

Wolfman

Speeding Up
Jul 31, 2007
631
18
38
Suginamiku
#2
Have never cycled there but can imagine that it would be pretty challenging in the winter.

I used to go up there a lot, and it was really cold. For instance, on a really bad day -15 or more; on my last visit to Sapporo (January '08), it was probably about 2 or 3 degrees, with a shocking wind chill. In addition the snow was pretty high. I used to go to Asahikawa (旭川) a lot which is in the middle of the island: here snow used to be piled up by the sides of the roads to about 3-5 feet, and the roads themselves were just white with hardened snow. Here's a webcam image of what it is like now:

http://www.stv.ne.jp/webcam/asahikawa/index.html
(if you click on the town names to the left you can see what other towns look like and most of these are also covered in snow).

As I said, I've never cycled there and maybe others have and can suggest nice roads and areas that aren't so exposed. From what I've seen, I'd be reluctant to go out on a road bike there.
 

kiwisimon

Maximum Pace
Dec 14, 2006
2,661
477
103
Japan
#3
i live next to Hokkaido and two words. Forget it. Rent a snowboard and hit the slopes but cycling is out. All the roads are frozen and unless you have spike tyres you won't be able to stay upright. Trekking is out but cross country skiing might work. Your aims would be best met by planning a trip in July. Good luck. Try Kyushu instead and check out Yellow Giants post on Kyushu. Good luck.
 

massa

Warming-Up
Feb 22, 2008
174
0
0
Setagayaku
#4
I'm afraid bike riding in Hokkaido in winter, normally is covered with snow between late October and early April even in Sapporo, is awful adventure. On the other hand, skying is most preferable way of transportation. You should examine condition of roads wherever you want to visit.