2021.11 Enjoy Outdoor Adventures and Beautiful Scenery in Northern Hokkaido [PR]
Mt. Asahidake (2,291 m; approx. 7516 ft) is Hokkaido’s highest mountain, and a popular destination for hiking and trail running. The mountain is part of the Daisetsuzan Volcanic Group, and is equipped with a ropeway to whisk visitors to the summit in 10 minutes. The Indigenous people of Hokkaido, the Ainu, revered these mountains, calling the area “the playground of the gods” (kamui mintara). The virgin forest that covers the foothills of the Daisetsuzan Volcanic Group is the first in the country to reveal its fall colors, beginning as early as September.
At the top of Mt. Daisetsu, there is a large caldera, known as Ohachidaira. The view from the caldera ridgeline when it appears to float above a sea of clouds, is beautiful. The hiking trail between Mt. Asahidake and Mt. Kurodake via Ohachidaira is one of the most popular routes in the area. It takes around 8 hours to complete the hike. There are some huts and camping grounds for overnight stays, but be prepared for cold weather, even in the middle of summer.
The Daisetsuzan Volcanic Group is in Daisetsuzan National Park, and is easily accessible by bus from Asahikawa, the largest city in the region. Asahikawa is about a 2-hour train ride from New Chitose Airport.
Rebun Island is Hokkaido’s northernmost island. It is known as “Flower Island” for its abundant alpine blooms, some of which are unique to the island. Hiking along paths lined with flowers is a popular activity, and some 300 varieties of alpine flowers grown on the island, some even at sea level.
Trail running is also becoming popular on the island, with many routes offering views of dramatic cliffs and the deep blue ocean. There are six hiking courses on the island, ranging from 2 to 8 hours. The island is famed for its fresh seafood, including sea urchin (uni), seaweed, and arabesque greenling.
Rebun Island is about a 2-hour ferry ride from Wakkanai, Japan’s northernmost city. From Kafuka Port at the southern end of the island, there are regular buses and sightseeing tours to the north of the island.
Haboro near the northwestern tip of Hokkaido is an ideal base for birdwatchers and hikers. Regular ferries from Haboro Port take visitors to Teuri Island via Yagishiri Island, about an hour away.
Teuri Island is a sanctuary for sea otters and seabirds, including endangered spectacled guillemots, common murres, and rhinoceros auklets. The sheer cliffs on the west coast of the island are protected as a breeding ground for seabirds, and as many as one million seabirds breed in the area annually. Visitors can see the colonies up close from the Akaiwa, Seabird, and Kannonzaki observatories.
Getting around the small island is easy with rental cycles available near the ferry terminal. There are also restaurants near the ferry terminal serving locally caught seafood, including sea urchin and octopus.
Haboro is about 2 hours from Asahikawa and 3 hours from Sapporo by car.
Cape Soya is at the very northern tip of Hokkaido, and on a clear day, you can see Sakhalin Island, 40 kilometers away. The area is popular with cyclists for its long stretches of straight road that offer easy cycling with views of green pastures and the sea.
The well-marked “White Path” through the highlands around Cape Soya is a scenic destination for running. The 3 kilometer-long (1.8 mi.) road is paved with white scallop shells from the nearest town, Wakkanai. Scallop shells that used to be disposed of as waste from the fishing industry were recycled to create the road, the design of which reflects the area’s coastal location. The combination of green hills, blue sky, deep blue sea and white road create a beautiful and very photogenic landscape.
Most visitors to Northern Hokkaido start their journeys in the city of Asahikawa, traveling north to Wakkanai on the coast. The cities are 250 km (155 mi.) apart, which takes around 4 hours by car. Along the way, there are plenty of opportunities to explore, relax, and enjoy local cuisine.
The area around the Daisetsuzan Volcanic Group is blessed with an abundance of high-quality hot springs such as Daisetsu Kogen Sanso, a secluded hot spring inn, which is open during the green season (summer to autumn). Toyotomi Onsen near Wakkanai has unusual petroleum-based hot springs containing natural mineral oil.
Beer lovers should visit Bifuka Shirakaba Brewery in Bifuka Town, the northernmost craft beer brewery in Japan. The beer is made with white birch sap, a local specialty. Take a break to enjoy some of the area’s signature foods.
The soba (buckwheat) noodles from Otoineppu Village known as maboroshi no soba (incredible soba), are black in color and possess the rich, unrefined flavor of the buckwheat. The sea urchin from Rebun Island, which is in season from June to early July, is prized by restaurants all over Japan, and tasting it at the source is a rare experience.
A trip through Northern Hokkaido is an opportunity to enjoy the natural beauty and flavors of Japan’s wild frontier.
Rebun Island running movie
Wakkanai Soya Hills running movie
Asahidake running movie
Teuri Island running movie