Bounded by the Tokachi range of mountains to the west and the peaks of Daisetsuzan National Park to the north, Hokkaido’s Tokachi is a vast region of farming plains. In winter, when it’s not uncommon for temperatures to drop as low as -20 degrees Celsius, those fields – so colorful in summer – are entirely coated in pristine white snow.
Thanks to its surrounding, protective mountains, the skies can remain clear and the weather is settled enough to allow hot air balloons to be launched. Head to Tokachigawa Onsen in the early morning to board a hot air balloon which is moored to the ground. As the balloon fills and rises you’ll be lifted some 30 meters into the air for a bird’s eye view of the surrounding landscape.
Another amazing winter sight of the Tokachi region is that of the Taushubetsu Bridge over Lake Nukabira, in Kamishihoro. During the summer this arched concrete bridge which used to carry a railway line vanishes beneath the lake’s rising waters. Later in the year the waters recede and the ‘phantom bridge’ reappears. In winter you can walk across the frozen surface of the lake for a close up view of the bridge.
Tokachi's main town Obihiro is 2 hours and 30 minutes from Sapporo by express train. It takes about the same time to drive to the region by car from Sapporo.
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