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Hokkaido prefecture

Hokkaido prefecture (北海道)

Hokkaido prefectural symbol
 - Total
 - % water
Ranked 1st
83,452.47 kmē
 - Total (Jan 1, 2003)
 - Density
Ranked 7th
ISO 3166-2:JP-01
Pref. Flower:Sweet briar
(Rosa rugosa)
Pref. Tree:Ezomatsu
(Picea jezoensis)
Pref. Bird:Red-crowned crane
(Grus japonensis)

Hokkaidō (北海道, literal meaning: "North Sea Circuit"), formally known as Yezo, is the second largest island of Japan. The Tsugaru Strait separates it from Honshu, although it is connects to Honshu through a submarine train tunnel, or Seikan tunnel. The largest city on Hokkaido is Sapporo, which is the capital of Hokkaido prefecture.

Hokkaido has been the homeland of the Ainu race since time immemorial. Many place names are in fact derived from Ainu language such as Sapporo.

An earthquake of magnitude 8.0 struck near the island on September 25, 2003 at 19:50:07 (UTC).

It is divided into four parts:

There are still many undisturbed forests in Hokkaido, including: See the list of cities in Hokkaido

Table of contents
1 Subprefecture
2 Climate
3 Economy
4 Transportation
5 External links



Hokkaido is known for its cool summers (which attract many tourists from other parts of Japan) and icy winters. The average August temperature is around 22°C (72°F), while the average January temperature ranges from -12°C to -4°C (10°F to 25°F) depending on elevation and latitude. The island tends to see isolated snowstorms that develop long-lasting snowbanks, in contrast to the constant flurries seen in the Hokuriku region.

During the winter, the Sea of Okhotsk turns to ice, rendering the northern coast impassable to marine traffic.


Hokkaido is Japan's predominant agricultural area. It leads the country in the production of rice and fish, and shares the lead in vegetable farming.

Although there is some light industry (most notably paper milling, brewing (Sapporo beer), and food production), most of the population is employed by the service sector. Tourism is an important industry, especially during the cool summertime that attracts campers and hot spring-goers from across Japan. During the winter, skiing and other winter sports continue to bring tourists to Hokkaido (the 1972 Winter Olympics were held there).


Hokkaido's only land link to the rest of Japan is the Seikan Tunnel. Most travelers to the island arrive by air: the main airport is New Chitose Airport in Chitose, just south of Sapporo. Tokyo-Chitose is the world's busiest air route, handling 45 widebody round trips on three airlines each day. Hokkaido can also be reached by ferry from Tokyo and Niigata.

Within Hokkaido, there is a fairly well-developed railway network (see Hokkaido Railway Company), but many cities can only be accessed by bus or car.

External links