Travel Logs Tokapuchi 400
The Tokapuchi 400 is a cycling route in Hokkaido about 400 kilometers long with starting points in the Tokachi region and the city of Obihiro, making a figure-eight connecting northern and southern Tokachi. We had an experienced cycling guide take us around this newly designated national cycling route to report on the attractions of this course.
The cycling guide mentions that: “Tokachi has wide roads and little traffic, so it’s the perfect place for cycling.” It offers visitors a wide range of locations, from plains stretching out as far as the eye can see to challenging mountainous areas and the coastal scenery of southern Tokachi.
This report will take you to the various attractions along the Tokapuchi 400, from Mikunitoge Pass, known for its many scenic spots, to recommended spots in the tranquil southern part of Tokachi.
Representative of SaGaRide Coffee & Service, a cycling tour service which provides original tours centered on Tokachi. A barista, a member of the Tokapuchi 400 route council, and a tour guide for Mikunitoge Downhill Cycling sponsored by the Higashi Taisetsu Guide Center.
The trip starts with the Mikunitoge Downhill, a particularly noteworthy activity on the Tokapuchi 400. Mikunitoge Pass is the highest pass on a national highway in Hokkaido at an elevation of 1,132 meters. From the crest, you can admire the sweeping view while you enjoy exhilarating ride.
Matsumi Ohashi Bridge viewed from Ryokushin-bashi Bridge, is a scenic view point in Mikunitoge Pass. Many travelers want to take pictures of the amazing view, so at the moment there are green poles installed that separate the shoulder of the road from the roadway.
From Matsumi Ohashi Bridge, there’s a sweeping view of the forest and caldera, and from the opposite side, you can look up at Ryokushin-bashi Bridge. Traffic on the national highway is heavy, so be very careful when riding or taking photos!
Tokachi has many concrete arches from the former Shihoro Line, including the Taushubetsu River Bridge, and the Daigo Otofukegawa Kyoro Bridge. When autumn comes, you can enjoy the stunning views it creates with the colorful autumn leaves.
With roads full of ups and downs, Naitai Highland Farm hosts an annual hill climb event. The area's majestic surroundings make for an exciting journey.
Naitai Highland Farm is the largest public ranch in Japan, and you can see grazing cows up close. The adjoining Naitai Terrace has bike racks, so you can rest and enjoy a meal.
The rows of white birch trees at Tokachi Ranch are a photogenic spot often used in filming. Why not take a commemorative photo along with a short break?
Roadside Station Otofuke Natsuzora no Furusato is the newest rest spot in the Tokachi area, modeled on the setting of a popular Japanese TV drama. There are many bike racks and vending machines supplying energy supplements and even inner tubes.
Roadside Station Otofuke also has lots of souvenirs and foods made with ingredients harvested locally every day. Be sure to experience Tokachi’s rich food culture while you’re here!
From Roadside Station Otofuke, it’s about a 30-minute ride to Obihiro. For dinner, why not try butadon? This dish of slow-cooked pork over steamed rice is an Obihiro specialty. Pig farming has long been widespread in the Tokachi area, and there are many restaurants where you can enjoy delicious butadon. The thick, tender slices of pork make a hearty meal!
The Tokapuchi 400 is fundamentally a long-distance trip, so the Obihiro area is recommended as a base point. You may want to stay at Tokachigawa Onsen, which is located about 40 minutes from the more urban part of Obihiro. Bathing in the therapeutic natural hot springs will also wash away your fatigue.
After resting at Tokachigawa Onsen, it’s time to embark on the second half of the cycling tour. Take a leisurely ride through southern Tokachi, with its many relatively flat and easy roads, and visit soothing spots rich in natural beauty.
About 4 kilometers south of Obihiro Station is Manabe Garden, Japan’s first and largest conifer garden. Enjoy walking the paths surrounded by thousands of species of blooming plants and healing forest bathing.
Further south along the Satsunaigawa River is the former Hiroo Line Aikoku Station. You can see the retro steam locomotive that used to run here. Bike racks are available, so you can make a casual stop along the way while cycling.
As you keep cycling, you will pass by rows of white birch trees in the Kiyokawa area along the Satsunaigawa River. Many of the roads are easy with few ups and downs, and there is also little traffic, so even beginners can enjoy a pleasant cycling trip.
Even further south, you can see Kofuku Station, famous as a pilgrimage spot for people in love. The distinctive picturesque station building, platform, rails, and train cars are preserved as-is, and it’s a popular spot among couples as well as train enthusiasts.
Stop by at Roadside Station Satsunai, located about 7 kilometers from Kofuku Station. At the Kasuisan building on the grounds, there’s a takeout booth, gift shop, and a vending machine with Nakasatsunai chicken eggs, so you can enjoy local foods.
Tokachi is rich in water and greenery. If you slow down and take a look at the surrounding scenery, you can see a wide variety of trees, flowers, birds, and other wildlife.
At Rokkanomori Forest not far from Roadside Station Satsunai, you can enjoy sweets or drinks as you walk through a wild plant garden full of Hokkaido flowers. With its many beautiful gardens and flowerbeds, the site is this area’s major attraction.
Another little-known cycling highlight of Hokkaido is the many dams scattered across the region. The Satsunaigawa Dam is among the largest dams in the Tokachi district. Not only can you enjoy the impressive view which combines natural and man-made features, you can also get a glimpse of the everyday lives of the local people. Although it is a little off the route, if you are able to do so, you might want to stop by.
The cycling journey through Tokachi comes to a close here. At the final stop, make sure to take a photo of the Tokachigaoka Observatory lit by the vivid sunset.
Our cycling guide emphasizes that you can enjoy cycling in Hokkaido in the winter too! At Memuro Shin Arashiyama Sky Park, one popular activity is riding on top of the snow on fat bikes, which have excellent stability. You can enjoy the unique experience riding through the pure white snowy landscape – quite unlike anything else!
When to go
May to October
Along the main route of the Tokapuchi 400, signs like arrows and bicycle lane road markings are provided to ensure a safe cycling experience.
Michi no Eki (Roadside Station) Urimaku
A roadside station where visitors can experience horseback riding in Hokkaido. The station is equipped with bike racks and offers services such as the rental tools and bicycle pumps, as well as a restaurant where you can enjoy dishes made with local ingredients.
3-1 Urimakunishi, Shikaoi-cho, Kato-gun, Hokkaido
http://www.urimaku.net/ (Japanese Only)
Check here for information on other cycle stations. (Japanese Only)