Being aware of cultural differences and local customs is one of the most important aspects of Hokkaido travel. Lack of basic knowledge can lead to awkward situations or worse.

Hokkaido residents are generally easygoing and if you adhere to basic Japanese sightseeing manners you won’t have anything to worry about.

In certain settings there are a few specific manners to keep in mind, so be sure to know about them beforehand and have a memorable trip.

1. Respect the Wildlife

During your Hokkaido travel, you may encounter a wide variety of wildlife, from cute birds and foxes to impressive sika deer and birds of prey.

In fact, the most common violation of tourist etiquette in Hokkaido is feeding wild animals.

It’s not allowed at any time or under any circumstances. It leads to saddening news reports of animals involved in traffic accidents while being fed or seeking food or the health hazards caused by salt, oil, and additives found in human food.

Also, bear in mind that even if a “friendly” wild animal approaches, it’s not safe to touch it. Animals like the red fox can carry parasites, which in worst-case scenarios, can prove fatal. To ensure a happy wildlife encounter, always maintain a reasonable distance when taking photos and avoid flash photography.

2. Treat Nature With Care

Spectacular scenery, mountain climbing and hiking, and watersports on the sea and in mountain streams are a significant part of what makes Hokkaido travel attractive to tourists.

However, natural beauty must be maintained by those who interact with it, so be sure to handle things appropriately and dispose of your own garbage to ensure that plastic bags and bottles do not clutter landscapes and waterways.

Litter encourages brown bears to descend from the mountains, causing problems for locals, but if an area has recycling bins available, please use them.

Also, be sure to stay on trails and boardwalks. If you wander away from designated paths, you might unknowingly damage or destroy precious plant life. Never pick flowers or take wild grass as a souvenir. In some cases, that goes beyond a violation of manners and may be considered a criminal offense.

3. Be Careful Around Farms & Ranches

In February 2016, Biei’s “Philosophy Tree,” which had become a popular tourist spot due to its beautiful landscape, was cut down by the landowner. One reason cited was that “too many tourists trespass on the surrounding farmland to take pictures.”

It’s important to remember that while Hokkaido’s farms and ranches have idyllic …

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