Spring is a prime season for traveling to and within Japan. And there's no doubt that Japan is an incredibly beautiful country year round, but April is when the weather really starts to warm up and the cherry blossom season is in full bloom. So what better time than now to travel through this naturally beautiful and inventive country with us!
There are 47 prefectures in Japan, and while many do share some similarities, each is home to gorgeous scenery while some are quite special in that they specialize in certain crafts and ingredients. We'll be starting at the the northernmost prefecture, also Japan's second largest island, Hokkaido.
H O K K A I D O
What sets Hokkaido apart is its cool temperatures and crisp air quality. While the rest of Japan typically experiences hot and humid weather during the summer season, Hokkaido has relatively temperate summers with much colder and snowier winters. The fresh air and spacious greenery of Hokkaido is primarily what makes it the perfect environment for breeding healthy and happy cows, which is why Hokkaido is world-famous for it's high-quality milk. The dairy farms here actually make up more than 50% of Japan's milk production! Hokkaido's milk is super smooth and creamy, which makes it perfect to drink on its own but to add into recipes such as Hokkaido's popular milk bread and cream stew. But there's more use to milk than just drinking and eating, Hokkaido's milk has been used in skincare for years. Just as milk helps alleviate spice, the milk, once extracted from its fattier contents, also helps soothe redness, brighten dull skin, and leave behind a radiant glow (Cleopatra took whole-body milk baths too!)
The vast fields of Hokkaido is home to some of the world's most visually stunning and recognizable lavender fields, also known as area called Furano. Here you'll feast your eyes on countless rows of vibrant colors, from rich purples and blues to bright yellows and rosy pinks. With the light smell of lavender wafting through the air, it'll feel as if you're living in a breathing painting. You can always take home a bundle of lavender to bring the smells and memories home with you. Lavender makes for great aromatherapy too! It's calming, improves sleep, and can eve alleviate headaches. Maybe some concentrated oils and a sprig or two can change up your home. And for the foodies, near these lavender farms is usually a soft-serve ice cream shop with their specialty flavor of course, lavender!
Uni (Sea Urchin)
Hokkaido is a hotspot for uni enthusiasts and chefs alike all over the world for its luxurious taste and texture that can't be beat. This bright orange delicacy (also commonly known as Sea Urchin) in Hokkaido is raised in waters that are teeming with high-quality konbu, or kelp. And aside from taste, eating uni is also quite the magical experience. Usually found atop sushi or a bowl of rice (Uni Don), it melts immediately in your mouth, turning into a rich velvety cream. Great uni tastes lightly of the sea, that lends its salty flavor, but also nutty and in some cases buttery. The adventurous can travel to the more remote parts of Hokkaido, such as Rishiri Island just off the northern tip of the mainland, to taste the freshest possible, sea to table, uni and experience the fresh waters that sea urchins inhabit. Sapporo, Hokkaido's capital, however, is home to an abundance of amazing restaurants who have their uni delivered fresh everyday.