Ghost Trees and Murakami’s Hokkaido

I had already been to Hokkaido in winter once exactly a year ago – so what made me get up, fly out to Tokyo on a 12 hours flight, spend the night in Tokyo, get up at 4 am again and jump on a 6 am flight for Asahikawa to again be in Hokkaido only a year after my first trip? Simplicity and tranquility. 

Ghost trees of Hokkaido

Hokkaido – together with Iceland is among the most peaceful places I have ever been to in my life. Both have vast landscapes and very large empty terrains. There is nothing tiring the eye but only beautiful and endless views.

Man painting a house in a snow covered landscape

Unlike Switzerland or Northern Norway – the landscape in Hokkaido is mostly dominated by vastness. Mountains feel far away and allow the snow covered terrains and the lonely trees to dominate the scenery. This may be the reason why Hokkaido was picked by Murakami for a setting of its mysterious novel the Wild Sheep Chase.  

Heaven for landscape photographers

Biei - Hokkaido

This post is more of a photography post dedicated to Hokkaido in winter, so I will cut it short. If you want to feel entirely disconnected from the world but still have access to comfortable accommodation, nice food and cultural touch – Hokkaido is the place to go for a perfect winter trip.

Biei - Hokkaido

These photos were taken during my two trips to Hokkaido in winter where I had the great company of Hokkaido based photographer Shunichi Abe who owns an atelier in Biei and offers photography tours around the region. I unfortunately do not speak any Japanese and Abe-san does not speak any English but we somehow managed to communicate. Abe-san also sells his amazing photography and you can also take a tour of his small gallery attached to his house.

2019 Update – now that I live in Tokyo, I cannot wait to get back to Hokkaido and for sure in the winter!