Hokkaido: Catching the Northern Lights
On Journeys in Japan, photographer Alfie Goodrich framed his lens on Hokkaido Prefecture's Muroran and Rausu in 2019. Muroran is an industrial city that flourished on steel. Though it fell on some hard times, it is coming back with events targeting youth culture fans. Rausu is a sliver of a town nestled on the Shiretoko Peninsula -- a World Natural Heritage Site. It is famous for its untouched nature and wildlife, as well as its prized kombu kelp.

Muroran: Cosplay event

Check out the city's popular cosplay festival, which debuted 5 years ago.

Rausu: Whale watching

Board a Shiretoko Nature Cruise for whale and bird watching. Best season is generally from May to mid-October. But for the Orcas, aim for June.

Rausu: Nature tours

Head off with Lincle tours to experience the stunning nature of Rausu. Run by super-knowledgeable Goto Naoko, you can watch brown bears from boats and go on river walks. You can even take a tour that explores all things kombu.

Access

Muroran: To reach Muroran from Tokyo, fly to Shin-Chitose Airport. From there, it's about 2 hours by bus.
Rausu: To reach Rausu from Tokyo, fly from Tokyo to Nakashibetsu Airport. From there, it's 70 minutes by car.