Top 5 Places for Pre-Wedding Photography in Hokkaido
Who says you’ve got to go to Europe to catch snowy mountain landscapes and vast flower fields? You can have both right here in Asia, specifically in Japan!
If you traverse up to the northern part of Japan, you’ll find yourself in an island known as Hokkaido. Out of the five islands in Japan, Hokkaido is believed to be the least developed. This means that the island has a well-preserved beauty that you probably can’t find anywhere else in Japan.
We wanted to know where the best places in Hokkaido are to take pre-wedding photos. So, we got in touch with the owner of Landress Wedding, Chihiro Oe. As a wedding planner and having lived nearly her entire life in Hokkaido, Oe is well in the know of the best places, the best seasons to visit, and activities to do here.
These are her top five locations for pre-wedding photography in Hokkaido:
Pre-Wedding Spot #1: Niseko
Distance from Sapporo: 2 hours by car.
Best season to visit: Winter (for snow-covered mountains)
Pre-wedding photo locations: Mount Yotei and Mount Hirafu.
Known for: Stunning ski slopes
Activities to do: Snowboarding and skiing.
Oe shared, “I had a client that did a proposal on the top of Mount Hirafu! In fact, they decided to have their wedding next year in the same place!”
Distance from Sapporo: 1 hour by car.
Best season: Autumn (for fruit harvest)
Pre-wedding photo locations: Vineyards
Known for: Fruit farms, vineyards, and Japanese whiskey.
Activities to do: Fruit picking and wine tasting.
Fruits in Japan are expensive, and for good reasons — their freshness and high quality. If you’re particular about food pricing, a cheaper alternative is to go fruit picking. There are numerous fruit farms in the town of Niki where you can pick cherries, apples, grapes, and such.
Once you’re in Niki, pay a visit to any of the beautiful vineyards here and try some Japanese wine or sake. Don’t forget to get your photographer to capture some photos of you and your partner taking a stroll here!
Once you’re done, you can travel up to Yoichi to try the famous Japanese whisky. According to Oe, the whisky here is unique in its taste because of the fresh air and clean water.
The environment in Yoichi is similar to that of Scotland, where Masataka Taketsuru — the father of Japanese whisky — first learnt about whisky production. He brought his knowledge and experience back with him to Yoichi and launched the first whisky, Nikka Whisky, in 1940.
Read this before you plan a destination wedding.
Pre-Wedding Spot #3: Lake Toya & Toyako
Distance from Sapporo: 2 hours by car.
Best season: Autumn
Pre-wedding photo locations: Lake Toya and Toyako village.
Known for: Hot springs, Japanese cafes, and arts and crafts.
Activities to do: Cycling and canoeing.
Lake Toya is a round lake with a diameter of about 10km. It is surrounded by volcanic mountains, Showa-shinzan and Mount Usu, and would serve as a great backdrop for your pre-wedding photos.
Next to Lake Toya is Toyako, a town famous for its hot springs or onsen. Oe says that you can also find small Japanese cafes and arts and crafts stores here. While Niseko is more luxurious, you’ll find that Toyako is simpler, quieter, and gives you a glimpse into the local lifestyle.
Pre-Wedding Spot #4: Biei
Distance from Sapporo: 2.5 hours by car.
Best season: Spring and summer.
Pre-wedding photo locations: Flower fields and roller coaster road.
Known for: Flower fields, scenic drives, and countryside lifestyle.
Activities to do: Cycling
You’ll find scores of flower farms in Biei. The most popular ones are the lavender farms. Tomita Farm is one you can pay a visit to. Aside from lavender, you’ll also find farms with poppies, marigold, blue sage, tulips, salvia, dahlia, and sunflower. Rent a bicycle or buggy cart to get a close-up view of the flowers. Likened to the tulip fields in the Netherlands, Biei is rather popular for pre-wedding photography as well.
Oe also recommended the famous roller coaster road or Nishi 11-sen town road that stretches for 2.5km. You’d be in for a ride as you cruise along the steep and gentle road. Try it when you’re there!
Pre-Wedding Spot #5: Jozankei Onsen
Distance from Sapporo: 45 mins by car
Best season: Autumn
Pre-wedding photo locations: Hōheikyō dam and Futami suspension bridge.
Known for: Japanese culture and architecture, and hot springs.
Activities to do: River rafting, canoeing, and hot spring baths.
You’ll find many hot spring resorts or ryokan in Jozankei Onsen. Ryokans are a great way for you to experience the Japanese lifestyle and culture. They come equipped with tatami flooring, fusuma (sliding doors), futon beds (traditional Japanese mattress), and Japanese style baths, just like what you’ve seen in the movies!
Your trip to Japan would be incomplete without trying on a kimono. Here, you can rent kimonos (for men, women, and children) and take a stroll in the city! This would be a great addition to your Hokkaido pre-wedding photo album.
Oe recommended taking pre-wedding photos at the Futami suspension bridge and Hōheikyō dam. With regards to the former, she said that the red bridge surrounded by trees with red and yellow leaves (during autumn) would make for great photos.
In A Nutshell
There’s so much beauty to feast your eyes on and culture to dive into at Hokkaido. With a perfect blend of European-esque landscape and Japanese architecture, Hokkaido is a great place to go for your pre-wedding photography. Like we said, you don’t have to go to Europe to ski or roll in flower fields. Hokkaido has all of that and much more!
Planning a photoshoot or wedding in Hokkaido would be easier if you knew of the right wedding planner to approach. According to Oe, most of the wedding planners in Japan tend to service local clients. However, there are a select few planners such as Oe, that have an overseas clientele.
Landress Wedding, Oe says, provides pre-wedding photography, wedding planning, day-of coordination, and proposal planning services in Hokkaido and other parts of Japan. Due to Oe’s love for nature, Landress Wedding specialises in outdoor weddings. For foreign clients, they can also arrange for transport and accommodation when requested.
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