The Toya area offers one of the most long-established hot springs (“onsen”) of Hokkaido, preserving over generations the top quality of 100% spring water baths. The hot springs’ water offers a high density of minerals and locals swear on its healing qualities.
Be sure to check one of the local hot springs to soak your tired body.
There are several places worth to be checked out, for instance “Yuai-no-ie” located in the town’s center, as well as the hot spring next to Nakatoya Campsite. Other hot springs also offer a variety of open air baths, so make sure to check the guide!
Spring in Hokkaido is late, so once the season finally arrives in May/June, plants and trees burst into life all at once.
Lake Toya’s shore gets wrapped up in a clear and dazzling green air, and taking a slow walk at the lakeside lets you feel nature’s intense energy. Enjoy the outside with all your five senses!
If you are exploring the lakeside in the Sobetsu area, then you should not miss to check out places such as Higashi-Kohan and Nakatoya. Especially in Summer, the lakeside road leading to these places turns into a green tunnel, where you can enjoy the pleasant view of leaves playing in the sun. In Autumn, the landscape shows its orange and red colors, and you can enjoy the sound of stepping onto fallen leaves while walking through the vast forests next to the lake. Idyllic times full of peace are awaiting you to take your time out.
Every Summer and Autumn, so twice a year, large sunflower fields in the Sobetsu Onsen area are inviting for a visit. There are several spots to find in this area, and it is a popular photo spot. Enjoy the positivity of the sunflower’s bright yellow color with red Mt Showa-Shinzan as its background.
International Sports Yukigassen (Snowball Fight) – Annual World Championships
Sports Yukigassen (Snowball Fight) is a new winter sports created by the townspeople of Sobetsu around several decades ago. Its annual international championships are hosted at the foot of Mount Showa-Shinzan in February each year. Yukigassen is enjoyed throughout the world, and around 150 national and international teams are participating in the championships. Watch and enjoy the heated battles of the annual fight for worlds-best Snowball Team!
Check for the annual schedule at the Showa-Shinzan International Sports Yukigassen Official Website: http://www.yukigassen.jp
Sobetsu Apple Festival
Another big festival of Sobetsu is the annual “Sobetsu Apple Festival” which is held in October every year. You can find fresh vegetable and fruit produce, while at some stands you can try out the all-you-can-fill bags! At other stands you can purchase fresh meat of luxury Japanese Black Cattle (Okutoya-Gyu for a bargain price!), to then grill it immediately on a charcoal grill that will be lent to you for free!
Check for the annual schedule of the “Sobetsu Apple Festival” at: https://facebook.com/sobetsukanko
The Fudoson Festival at Sobetsu river
At the Fudoson Festival that takes place in early Autumn, a miniature shrine (“Mikoshi”) is carried through the town. During the ceremony, the shrine arrives at Sobetsu river, where the so-called “River Crossing” – the festival’s highlight – takes place. The festival indicates the wish for good health and prosperity, and it is perfect if you want to check out local sights and customs.
The Sobetsu Shrine Festival / The Nakatoya Lion Dance
Another great traditional festival is the Sobetsu Shrine Festival, which features the Nakatoya Lion Dance – definitely an atmosphere that is worth being checked out!
The festival is held annually in September, celebrating the harvest season, and it is a popular festival among the locals. The Lion Dance originates from the Miyagi Prefecture and came across Sobetsu with settlers that migrated to the Nakatoya area, and it has been kept in Sobetsu’s tradition up to date. Also don’t miss to check out the tools and customs which are all hand-made.
For annual schedules please check the offical Facebook page of Sobetsu Tourist Information: https://www.facebook.com/SobetsuKanko/