Hokkaido, the northernmost of Japan's four main islands, has a landscape strikingly different from that of any other place in Japan. With more than 77,700 sq. km (30,000 sq. miles) and accounting for 22% of Japan's total landmass, it has only 5% of its population. In other words, Hokkaido has what the rest of Japan doesn't -- space. The least developed of Japan's four islands, it's your best bet for avoiding the crowds that plague Japan's more well-known playgrounds during peak travel season.Considered the country's last frontier, Hokkaido didn't begin opening up to development until after the Meiji Restoration in 1868, when the government began encouraging Japanese to migrate to the island. Even today, Hokkaido has a frontier feel to it, and many young Japanese come here to backpack, ski, camp, and tour the countryside on motorcycles or bicycles.There are dairy farms, silos, and broad, flat fields of wheat, corn.

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