Best Things to Do in Hokkaido in May

If you are going to go sightseeing, you want to incorporate into your itinerary things that you can only see and experience during that time of the year. In this issue, we will introduce the conditions, events, and recommended spots in Hokkaido in May. After a long and harsh winter, Hokkaido in May is finally in its spring season. Flowers are in full bloom here and there, and you can really feel the arrival of spring. Please take a look at this page for more information.


About Hokkaido in May

Atmospheric temperature

Temperatures in Hokkaido in May fluctuate between 10°C and 20°C. The days feel warmer, but the mornings and evenings can still be chilly, and although the average temperature is 5°C higher than in April, the sudden cold snap in late May requires caution. It is recommended to always check the weather forecast, as the temperature can suddenly drop to around 10°C (50°F), just when you think it is going to be warm for a while. It is a good idea to prepare thicker clothing to prepare for the difference in temperature.


At this time of year, there are many spring festivals and events throughout Hokkaido. For example, Sapporo hosts the Sapporo Lilac Festival, where visitors can enjoy beautiful lilac flowers. In addition, special events may be held at various tourist attractions in conjunction with Golden Week (a long vacation from the end of April to the beginning of May).


May is the time when nature in Hokkaido comes alive and is the best time to enjoy the beautiful fresh green scenery. Another important point is that the cherry blossoms bloom about a month later in Hokkaido than in Honshu, so you can still enjoy them in May. In parks and gardens, lilacs and other flowers bloom after the cherry blossoms, making it a good time to visit for a drive or a hike. Bird watching and trips to hot springs are also recommended.

May Fashion

Spring begins in earnest in Hokkaido in May, and since the snow that melted all at once in April does not remain on the plains until this time in May, it is best to wear normal sneakers or other shoes, a long-sleeved shirt, and long pants. Although the days are often warm, the mornings and evenings can be chilly and suddenly cold, so it is important to bring a light jacket or cardigan, or use a layered style to easily cope with the difference in temperatures.

Spring Festival

May is the month when Hokkaido finally starts to warm up in earnest. There are many events held in Hokkaido to coincide with the blooming of lilacs, Shibazakura (moss pink), azaleas, tulips, and other flowers. Be sure to visit them for a memorable trip!

*Event information is based on the most recently held events. Please check the official website for latest details as the contents are subject to change.

Sapporo Lilac Festival (さっぽろライラック祭り)

The lilac, brought from the U.S. in 1889, has been loved by Sapporo citizens as a tree that heralds the arrival of early summer, and in 1960 it was chosen as the “Sapporo City Tree”. The Lilac Festival is held in Odori Park in May to coincide with the blooming of lilacs.

Many interesting events such as outdoor live performances and stamp rallies are held, but one of the most popular is the Wine Garden, which offers a large variety of Hokkaido wines from wineries and vineyards in Hokkaido. A sommelier is always on hand to offer a wine suited to each individual, and other efforts are made to please visitors.

On the day of the festival, the “Ramen Show” is held at the adjacent venue, where famous ramen restaurants from all over Japan gather, so ramen lovers may want to visit this as well.

Higashimokoto Shibazakura Festival (ひがしもこと芝桜まつり)

Located in Higashimokoto in Ozora-cho, East Hokkaido, the 10-hectare Higashi-mokoto Shibazakura Park is a large field of Shibazakura (moss pink) that turns pink all over. The flowers usually start blooming around May, and are in full bloom around mid-May. The shibazakura usually have five petals, but if you look closely, you can find “lucky shiba-zakura” with four, six, or even seven petals.

On weekends during the festival, various stage events are held, attracting crowds of more than 10,000 people at times. There is also a fishing pond, go-carts, and other playground equipment, and a footbath can be enjoyed.

Esan Azalea Festival (恵山つつじまつり)

Mt. Esan, an active volcano known for its azalea blossoms, is about an hour’s drive from downtown Hakodate. The entire mountain is covered in the red hues of two types of azalea, the Ezo-Yamatsutsuji and the Sarasa-dodan, making for a spectacular sight. Enjoy the approximately 600,000 bright azaleas blooming all around the foot of the mountain.

Takikawa Canola Flower Festival (たきかわ菜の花まつり)

The canola flower fields in Takikawa City, located between Sapporo and Asahikawa City, are so beautiful when in full bloom that they have been selected as one of the “100 most moving moments in Hokkaido”. Takikawa Canola Flower Festival which takes place in the vast flower fields, is usually held from mid-May to early June. Please note that the dates of the festival may change depending on the weather and melting snow.

During the festival, an observatory will be set up at the main flower field site. There will also be a gourmet fair featuring foods from Takikawa City and also with using canola flower, as well as stage events. Visitors can further enjoy the festival by taking the “Nanohana Taxi,” which takes them to the good canola flower spots of each year, or the “Nanohana Bus,” which runs from the roadside station to the field site.

Tulip and Suzuran Festa (チューリップ・すずらんフェスタ)

Takino Suzuran Hillside National Park, a popular national park located in Minami-ku, Sapporo, is visited by nearly 600,000 people annually. The park covers an area of approximately 400 hectares. The hills are covered with tulips and lily of the valley, which are at their best in early June.

The “Tulip and Suzuran Festa” is a flower-viewing event usually held from late May to early June. The colorful tulips, about 250,000 bulbs of 156 varieties blooming on the slopes of a small hill at an altitude of about 260 meters, are especially breathtaking. The park has some elevation differences, so it is recommended to wear shoes that are easy to move around in. Take your time to enjoy the park as you make your rounds.

Cherry blossom viewing spots in Hokkaido

While the cherry blossom viewing season is coming to an end in other areas of Japan, Hokkaido is still in full bloom in May! You can take pictures, have a picnic, and enjoy cherry blossom viewing to the fullest. Check out the famous spots with the latest cherry blossoms in Japan!

*The blooming of cherry blossoms fluctuates depending on the climate of the year. It is recommended to check the official website before visiting.

Matsumae Park (松前公園)

Matsumae Castle and cherry blossoms in Matsumae Park

Matsumae Town is one of the most famous cherry blossom viewing spots in Hokkaido. Matsumae Park, which retains the atmosphere of Japan’s northernmost castle town, is home to 10,000 cherry trees of about 250 varieties and has been selected as one of the “100 best cherry blossom viewing spots”. The Matsumae Cherry Blossom Festival, a major event, is usually held from late April to mid-May. Visitors can enjoy the blossoms, from early-blooming varieties to late-blooming ones, for about a month. It is interesting to compare the unique petals of the different varieties.

During the festival, a variety of events will be held, including a product fair featuring Matsumae’s famous seafood, sweets from long-established stores, and other Matsumae gourmet foods. The park is also dotted with sightseeing spots such as castles and temples that are well worth seeing, so you can enjoy not only cherry blossom viewing but also sightseeing.

Beppo Memorial Park (メモリアルパーク別保公園)

It is a famous cherry blossom viewing spot with about 300 cherry trees in bloom, including Ezo-yamazakura, Kushiro-yae-zakura. The Kushiro Town Cherry Blossom Festival, held at Beppo Park in Kushiro, is an event where visitors can enjoy Japan’s latest cherry blossoms, which bloom around late May. Visitors can fully enjoy cherry blossom viewing while enjoying a variety of events such as local entertainment.

Editor’s Comment


Even though it is spring in Hokkaido in May, it can still feel chilly at times, so it is a good idea to bring something to wrap yourself in. Enjoy the scenery of cherry blossoms and other colorful flowers.

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