Any preconceptions about Japan as a crowded landmass will be swiftly put to bed when you visit the country's northernmost island - Hokkaido. Where the main island of Honshu sees multiple millions of people crowded on narrow coastal plains, Hokkaido is a vast island sprawling with wildlife, green foliage and breath-taking mountains; in short it's an outdoor lover's paradise.
Scenery aside, Hokkaido is also brimming with history and culture as the region has been home to indigenous Ainu people for centuries. Their culture and history is represented in annual festivals with the island boasting over 1,200 a year (and we're not just talking little fetes), so there's an endless number to attend. In winter the Sapporo Snow Festival is the biggest event, while summer sees a celebration of flora and fauna at the Furano Lavender Festival.
The low humidity in summer makes it a pleasant season to explore Daisesuzan and Shikotsu- Toya National Park, bathe in hot springs and trek through the Kushior wetlands. Alternatively, in winter cold air comes in across the Sea of Japan and drops amazingly dry powder making Hokkaido a ski haven.