🔖 4 min read

Hokkaido, the northernmost island of Japan, is a winter wonderland where nature and modernity coexist harmoniously. With its pristine snowy landscapes, rich culture, and friendly communities, it has become an enticing destination for those seeking a peaceful and fulfilling life. In this journey of embracing the snowy serenity of Hokkaido, it’s vital to establish a well-thought-out plan for settling down, absorbing the culture, and engaging in livelihood opportunities.

Staying in Sapporo – The Gateway to Hokkaido

Photo by Sen Lee

Sapporo, the capital city of Hokkaido, is often the first choice for newcomers due to its seamless blend of urban amenities and natural beauty. 

As a bustling hub, it offers a plethora of housing options, an exciting culinary scene, and various recreational activities. 

In addition, its well-connected transport network makes it an ideal base for exploring the rest of Hokkaido.


Finding an Apartment in Sapporo

Securing a comfortable place to stay is the first step towards establishing your life in Sapporo. 

The city has diverse accommodation options, including apartments, shared houses, and guest houses. 

While searching for an apartment, it’s important to consider factors such as proximity to public transport, budget, and neighbourhood amenities.

Real estate agents can be of great assistance in helping you find the right place, but make sure to have a clear understanding of rental contracts and any additional fees that might be involved.


Delving into Sapporo’s Culinary Scene

Once you are settled in, it’s time to indulge in Sapporo’s renowned culinary scene. 

The city is famous for its delicious ramen, fresh seafood, and local dishes such as jingisukan (grilled mutton). 

Exploring the local food culture is not just about satisfying your taste buds but also a way to understand and connect with the community. 

Regular visits to local eateries, and markets, and participating in food festivals can enrich your experience as a Sapporo resident.


Recreational Activities in the Heart of Winter

Sapporo is a haven for winter enthusiasts.  Apart from the illustrious Sapporo Snow Festival held annually in February, the city boasts some of the best skiing resorts in the region. 

There are numerous parks and open spaces where one can indulge in snowshoeing, snowboarding, or take a stroll to enjoy the wintry landscapes. 

The natural hot springs are another highlight, offering a serene retreat to unwind and rejuvenate.

Embracing the Hokkaido Local Culture

Photo by Y K

While Sapporo is an excellent starting point, embracing Hokkaido’s culture entails exploring beyond the city limits. 

The island is steeped in history and tradition, and immersing yourself in the local culture will deepen your connection to your new home.


Engaging with Local Communities

Engaging with local communities is an essential aspect of cultural immersion. 

Hokkaido is home to the indigenous Ainu people, and interacting with them can provide valuable insights into their rich heritage. 

Participating in local festivals, joining community groups, or volunteering can foster meaningful relationships and make your transition smoother.


Learning the Japanese Language

While many people in Sapporo speak English, learning Japanese is indispensable for a richer cultural experience. 

Knowledge of the local language will not only make day-to-day life easier but also enable deeper connections with the people. 

Enrolling in language classes, practising with language exchange partners, or using language learning apps can be effective ways to learn Japanese.


Discovering Traditional Art and Craft

Hokkaido is a treasure trove of traditional arts and crafts. Pottery, Ainu embroidery, and woodwork are some of the crafts that the island is known for. 

Visiting museums, and craft centres, and attending workshops can help you appreciate and even acquire skills in these ancient art forms.

Opportunities in Hokkaido

Photo by Yeoul Shin

Establishing a sustainable livelihood is crucial for long-term settlement in Hokkaido. 

The island offers diverse employment and entrepreneurial opportunities in various sectors, including tourism, agriculture, and education.


Working in the Tourism Industry

Hokkaido, being a popular tourist destination, has a thriving tourism industry. 

Jobs in hotels, resorts, travel agencies, or as a tour guide are common choices for expats. Being fluent in a foreign language can be an asset in this sector.


Engaging in Agriculture

Agriculture is a significant part of Hokkaido’s economy. The island is known for its high-quality produce, including dairy, potatoes, and melons. 

Engaging in agriculture, either by working on a farm or starting your own agricultural venture, can be a fulfilling and sustainable livelihood option.


Teaching and Educational Opportunities

For those with a background in education, there are numerous opportunities in schools and language institutes. 

Teaching English is a popular option among foreigners. Acquiring the necessary certifications and building a network within the education sector can lead to a rewarding career in teaching.

Final Thoughts

Photo by Steven Su

Embracing the snowy serenity of Hokkaido is a multi-faceted endeavour that promises an enriched life. Sapporo, the heart of the island, serves as the gateway into this enthralling world with its diverse accommodation options, culinary delights, and recreational opportunities. 

Beyond the urban landscape, the cultural tapestry of Hokkaido beckons with its indigenous heritage, traditional arts, and enchanting Japanese language. Engaging with the local communities and participating in traditional art forms enables a deep-rooted connection with the land and its people. 

Meanwhile, livelihood opportunities abound in tourism, agriculture, and education, offering avenues for financial sustainability and personal fulfilment. It’s imperative to be resourceful, adaptive, and open to embracing new experiences as you make Hokkaido your home. 

This journey is not just about moving to a picturesque location; it is about becoming a part of a community and contributing to the tapestry of a rich culture. In this land of snow-clad mountains, bountiful fields, and a culture steeped in history, you have the chance to weave your own story into the fabric of Hokkaido. 

Whether through the meals you savour, the art you create, or the lives you touch through your work, each day is an opportunity to cherish and grow. Thus, as you make your dreams come true by moving to Hokkaido, remember that you are also in the making of a dream life filled with serenity, joy, and purpose.


About Jihyun Lee

A dreamer, a wonderer and a rapper at heart. An everyday person who is curious about the world and would love to share Japanese lifestyle stories with you.