Locals sound off for their picks for the best date spots in Japan’s biggest prefecture.

Hokkaido, Japan’s largest and northernmost prefecture, is a top travel destination for foodies and outdoor types, but it’s a great place for lovers too, asserts a survey conducted by Japanese romance-related Internet portal Enmusubi Daigaku.

In the survey, 105 people who currently or previously lived in Hokkaido were asked for their top Hokkaido date spot recommendations (multiple answers allowed), and their answers paint a romantic picture on the prefecture’s canvas, with the top 10 listed below.

1. Otaru Canal (chosen by 69.5 percent of respondents)
2. Maruyama Zoo (61 percent)
3 (tie). Sapporo Stellar Place (58.1 percent)
3 (tie). Jozankei (58.1 percent)
5. Goryokaku Tower (51.1 percent)
6. Asahikawa Zoo (56.2 percent)
7. Shiroi Koibito Park (53.3 percent)
8. Mt. Hakodate Observatory (48.6 percent)
9. Otaru Aquarium (47.6 percent)
10. Noboribetsu Onsen (43.8 percent)

▼ Jozankei

Breaking the list down by city, four of them are in Sapporo, the prefectural capital. Jozankei is a hot spring region located in a mountain valley on the outer edge of Sapporo which boasts beautiful colorful foliage in the fall and snowy landscapes in winter, and Maruyama Zoo is one of the most respected facilities of its type in Japan. On the more cosmopolitan side of things, Stellar Place Sapporo, attached to Sapporo Station, is an entertainment complex with extensive dining and shopping options, and Shiroi Koibito Park is a picturesque plaza with cafes and tours of the factory where Shiroi Koibito, Hokkaido’s representative sweet snack made by sandwiching white chocolate between thin butter cookies, are made.

▼ Hakodate

The port town of Hakodate is represented twice on the list, both times for scenic vantage points. Hakodate is famed for its fabulous night views, where the lights of the city sparkle like gems in the crisp, clear northern air, and there’s no better place to take in the sight than from the observatory lookout at the top of Mt. Hakodate, with a cable car whisking you up the 334 meters (1,096 feet) to get there. Meanwhile, Goryokaku Tower lets you admire the distinct star-shaped architecture and moat of Fort Goryokaku, which is at its most beautiful in spring when the surrounding cherry blossom trees burst into bloom.

▼ Goryokaku Fort

The city of Asahikawa, also famous for its zoo, shows up on the list once, as does Noribetsu more or less as a whole, thanks to the city’s many hot spring baths, traditional inns, and “hell valley” where steam can be seen seeping out the ground.

▼ Otaru canal district

Finally, Otaru makes two appearances on the list, once for its aquarium, and again with Otaru’s canal district. The canals run along a row of what were originally warehouses built roughly a century ago, but which have now been converted into restaurants, art galleries, and shops while maintaining their classical exterior architecture. The atmosphere is particularly romantic after sundown, when gas lamps provide softly glowing illumination along the canal-side foot paths, and even more so during the Otaru Snow Light Path Festival, held annually in February, when candle-bearing snow sculptures are built along the waterway too. Of course, it does get very, very cold on winter nights in Hokkaido, but that’s all the more excuse for couples to snuggle up to each other as they stroll, which probably does a lot to explain why Otaru ended up at the top of the list.

Source: PR Times
Top image: PR Times 
Insert images: Wikipedia/トトト, Pakutaso, Wikipedia/京浜にけ, Pakutaso (2)

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