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Drive in Hokkaido late Nov to early Dec 2022/11/7 12:32
Hi, we will be going around Hokkaido from late Nov to early Dec 2022 for 10 days, namely Sapporo, Asahikawa and Hakodate. We are planning a self drive road trip.
I am from Singapore and have no experience driving on snowy or icy roads so would like to get some tips and first hand info about driving there.
Anyone who has done road trips in Hokkaido, can you share your driving experience there? Thank you.
by FaithB  

Re: Drive in Hokkaido late Nov to early Dec 2022/11/7 17:52
Hello, I didn't drive when I was in Hokkaido in winter, but the roads were full of ice and snow. In Europe we put salt on roads so the ice and snow melt, while in Japan I saw machineries working during the night in Sapporo to put the snow on the sides, but the road itself is still "white".
I didn't feel myself to drive on those roads, as public transports are very good, but the motorways are clean.
by cochese rate this post as useful

Re: Drive in Hokkaido late Nov to early Dec 2022/11/7 19:17
If you have never driven on a snowy road, I do not recommend driving.
Sapporo, Asahikawa, and Hakodate can be reached by train.
Do not drive too fast or brake suddenly on snowy roads. I wasn't driving, but I've been in a car that spun in Okunikko.
Tires must be replaced with studless tires. (may already be set)
You'll also need chains for your tires in case it snows a lot.
If you park outdoors, it may snow, so it may be better to prepare a shovel and work gloves. (If snow melting agent is sprinkled or hot water is available 24 hours a day to prevent freezing, it may not be necessary.)
The scariest thing is when you can't see even a few tens of centimeters ahead due to whiteout.
It's not January or February, so the chances of encountering a whiteout may be low.
https://www.mitsui-direct.co.jp/car/guide/tips/22.html
by haro1210 rate this post as useful

Re: Drive in Hokkaido late Nov to early Dec 2022/11/7 19:36
I've driven around Japan more than a lot of foreign tourists and often visit in winter.

As a rule - I don't drive if it's snowing as I don't have the skills to drive in these conditions. Living in Kazakhstan and seeing lots of crashes probably has a lot to do with this as well.

Will there be snow on the road in November/December? Possibly - but I would not drive then myself as the risk is too high unless you have the skills.

I've also driven around Rural Hokkaido and I can tell you that the roads are unlike other roads in Japan. Think backroad Malaysia but with snow and animals which are attracted to the road due to grass being available which increases the chance of hitting animals.
by mfedley rate this post as useful

Re: Drive in Hokkaido late Nov to early Dec 2022/11/7 21:19
Hakodate, Sapporo and Asahikawa are all connected by the JR rail network. Or are you also planning on going somewhere that doesn't have easy access via public transport?
If not, then rather than risking driving in conditions that you aren't familiar with in an unfamiliar country, I would recommend getting one of the JR passes for the Hokkaido region [https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2357.html]
by Kari Haruka rate this post as useful

Re: Drive in Hokkaido late Nov to early Dec 2022/11/8 00:08
I agree on not self-driving unless you're already used to driving on snow.

Where you can seek help in case of accidents, there would be plenty of public transportation instead. Where there is no public transportation, you cannot seek help in case you slip into and get stuck in a dent, cause a car accident and need to talk to a police officer who doesn't speak your language, or find trouble going up an icy hill.

I am a Japanese resident in Greater Tokyo, and all of the above have happened to us in the countryside. Thank goodness we knew who we could call. It's a good thing that rental cars in Hokkaido are equipped with snow tires, though, because you won't have to worry about your tire chain slipping off like how it did on us.
by Uco rate this post as useful

Re: Drive in Hokkaido late Nov to early Dec 2022/11/8 14:27
@FaithB

I have driven many times in Hokkaido, but never in Winter. I prefer public transport, as I see no fun driving on " winter roads", and can't bear the thought of having an accident during the holiday.
by liem (guest) rate this post as useful

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