Hokkaido is the least developed of Japan's four main islands. It has an area of 83,000 square kilometers (32,000 square miles), and while it represents over 22% of Japan’s land, it contains only 4.5% of the country's population. This can be good if you are trying to avoid the crowds of tourists that the other Japanese islands have. The weather can be quite harsh in the winter, when the island has a significant amount of snow, wind, and freezing temperatures. In summer, however, the heat and humidity are not as bad as in the rest of Japan.
The island started its development later than Japan's other islands. After the Meiji Restoration in 1868, the Japanese government started encouraging citizens to move to the island. Today, the island is a good place for outdoors adventures like hiking, skiing, and camping. Many visitors enjoy visiting the countryside by bike or motorcycle, and they can see farms and endless fields of wheat, corn, and potatoes. Besides having a traditional bucolic landscape, however, the island also has tall volcanoes, gorges, and rugged wilderness. There are many forests filled with clear lakes, mountains, wild animals, and hot springs. Hokkaido is a wonderful destination to get away from the fast pace of life.