Length of Japan:Hokkaido

Length of Japan part 1
 
hakodate kuromatsunai sapporo asahikawa

2.from Kuromatsunai to Sapporo


Summary

Route : Kuromatsunai(黒松内)-Lake Toya(洞爺湖)-Noboribetsu(登別)-Sapporo(札幌)
Distance : 228 km
Best Season : July to August
Available Season : April to November(Possible snow in April and November)
Steepness/terrain : slope.gif slope.gifslope.gifslope.gif (hard especially Orofure pass)
Natural Beauty : beauty.gif beauty.gif beauty.gif beauty.gif (Beautiful Lakes and forests)
History : building.gif building.gif (Toya and Shiraoi)
Traffic : building.gif (Be care along the National Route)

Map of this Route

Profile Map

Detail

Kuromatsunai(黒松内), Northernmost forest of Buna(beech)

Arriving in Kuromatsunai, which is the northern edge of the Buna (Beech) Forest, you can easily access the beech forest from the Buna Center (Kuromatsunai Beech Tree Museum)(ブナセンター). Although the Beech Forest in Utasai is primary, undeveloped forest, you can explore it quite easily as there are no extreme, steep hills; unlike, for instance, the other beech forests in Shirakami mountain district in Aomori prefecture. You can walk around in the forest without difficulty.

From Kuromatsunai, take Prefecture Route #266 to Uchiura-wan (Volcano Bay)(内浦湾). This route has quite steep ups and downs even though it runs along the sea coast. Turn left onto prefecture rout #609 after descending the Rebunge peak. You will find Kamui-casi (カムイチャシ) along the coast. This is the best spot to take rest for a while.

Kuromatsunai Beech Tree Museum[J]

Uchiura-wan (Volcano Bay) (内浦湾(噴火湾))

When you reach Toya, we recommend you to go to Usu Bay in Date City(伊達市有珠湾). And visit the Batchelor Church(バチラー教会堂) and Usu Zenkouji Temple(善光寺). The missionary, John Batchelor, translated the Bible into Ainu and wrote an Ainu dictionary. This work became the starting point for research on the language and culture of the Ainu.
The Usu Zenkouji Temple is famous as the oldest temple in Hokkaido. The area alongside Usu Bay has several historical remains and shell mounds.

The shell mounds were originally though to be "middens"(rubbish dumps) of the Jomon eras. Nowadays, it is established that the shell mounds were sacred ground.

Arutori Cape has an isolated camp site which is recommended to those seeking to be away from crowds.
National Route # 37 is quite a busy road. So extra care is needed! Drivers' attitude in Hokkaido is not always cyclist-friendly.

Nishiyama Wild Volcano

To get to Lake Toya(洞爺湖), return to Toya then visit Nishiyama Craters(西山火口群). The Nishiyama Craters are the new Craters created in an eruption in year 2000. The Craters were appeared on the national route. The collapsed houses caused by the eruption still exist.

Although the Lake Toya Hot Spring had to close for 8 months after the eruption in 2000, the hot spring has now recovered and re-opened. Visitors can enjoy the "long run" fireworks during the summer season which is a fireworks display which takes place every evening during the summer.

Take the road to Orofure Pass(オロフレ峠) even tough it will be a bit of hard work. The altitude of Orofure Pass is 940 m but there is much less traffic and beautiful forest scenery. After your hard (and sweaty!) work, you can look forward to Noboribetsu and the relaxation of its hot spring.

The Noboribetsu hot spring(登別温泉) area offers a number of day spas. The most famous of these is Dai-ichi Takimotokan(第一滝本館). But the whole area swarms with hot springs. If you are limited in budget, the Yumoto Sagiri-yu(夢元さぎり湯) is recommended as it is quite reasonably priced and has quality hot spring water.

After relaxing in a hot springs, make an extra effort to visit Oyunuma(大湯沼) where there is a good nature trail. Lake Kuttara(クッタラ湖) is another sightseeing spot. A quiet, narrow road, which is impassable to the big sightseeing buses, will take you to the heart of Hokkaido's natural beauty. Don't pass up riding up to Lake Kuttara. Satisfaction guaranteed!!

The way to Lake Shikotsu(支笏湖)

You have to take the busy route from Noboribetsu to Tomakomai but there are some old local roads alongside the main traffic road for part of the way.
On the way to Tomakomai, visit Porotokotan(ポロトコタン) in Shiraoi. And then visit the Ainu Museum. Nearby the lake Poroto offers canoeing trips and there is a camp site not far from the Lake called Poroto Natural Forest Camp Site.(ポロト自然休養林キャンプ場)

The Ainu Museum

Lake Shikotsu(支笏湖)

Take the Prefecture Route #141 in Tomakomai(苫小牧) to avoid the busy city centre. This will take you directly to the Lake Shikotsu. However, the width of this road is only about 1.5 lanes, so be careful riding along this narrow road. Drivers in Hokkaido do not always expect cyclists in this area.

On the way to the Lake Shikotsu, there is a route to the bottom starting point of a trail up to Mount Tarumae(樽前山), famous for its huge lava dome. Mount Tarumae is still an active volcano and access to this lava dome is forbidden. The stark mountain scenery denuded of trees is an eerie but impressive sight.

Lake Shikotsu is the northern-most ice-free lake and amongst the clearest lakes in Japan. It is amazing to realize that nature of this majesty can be accessed from a million-people sized city, Sapporo, in a one-day bike trip.
Lake Shikotsu is 400 m deep and so is known as the bottomless lake. When canoeing in the Lake Shikotsu, you will find floating branches sticking out its glass-clear surface, looking eerily like bones. (The meaning of Shikotsu in the Ainu language is a big hollow or a valley and takes its name from the Chitose River.)

The next must-see place is Lake Okotanpe(オコタンペ湖) which is famous as one of three rarely-visited lake in Hokkaido. This is because Lake Okotanpe has limited access by reason of being in a Forest Ecosystem Reserve. The Japanese government is trying to protect the environment around this lake for the future and so, you can not get access to the lake shore, however, you can enjoy and appreciate the natural beauty of the area from the Reserve’s observatory.

The way to Sapporo(札幌)

Heading north on National Route #453, it is just 30 km from Lake Shikotsu to the city of Sapporo. This route has a number of ups and downs. It is known as the "Gateway to Success" for sporting cyclists in Sapporo. Many road-bike racers use this route for training.

When you enter Makomanai(真駒内), take the cycling route along the Makomanai River which will lead you on to the cycling road on the right bank of the Toyohira River.
The TV Tower is in the centre of the town and is so it is a useful landmark which you can use for your bearings as it can be seen from far away and most places in the town

If you will be riding the opposite direction, from Sapporo to Makomanai, take the road on the right bank of the Toyohira River and this will lead you to the road alongside the Makomanai River mentioned in the earlier paragraph.

Not to be missed!!

Uyoro River foot path(ウヨロ川フットパス)

This foot path is located beside the Uyoro River near JR Hagino station(JR萩野駅), on the west side of Shiraoi.
As this foot path is not very popular, there are not many visitors. However, this foot path has a wide variety of attractive scenery and you can easily enjoy nature and country scenery on this path in just one full day.

A map of foot path is available at the Kiosk of JR Shiraoi station(JR白老駅). Information on the foot path can also obtained at Ocean Farm(オーシャンファーム), located where the highway crosses the Uyoro River. Horse riding is also available at Ocean Farm.

Uyoro River foot path[J]

Tarumae Garou(樽前ガロー)

Tarumae Garou which is a narrow gorge or gulley which the river ruches through can be accessed by bicycle.
This place also does not attract that many tourists. However, the impression of the Tarumae Garou is as good as the Koke no Doumon(苔の洞門) at north side of Mount Fuppusi.(You can access only to the entrance area of Koke no Doumon.)

Route

Route Summary

Kuromatsunai(黒松内) [2m]
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Prefecture road #226 (20km)
National Route #37 (9km)
Prefecture Road #609 (8km)
National Route #37 (15km)
Toya(洞爺) [2m]
|(8km) Nishiyama Craters(西山火口) [approximately 200m]
Lake Toya(洞爺湖) [86m]
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Prefecture Road #2 (7km)
National Route #453 (7km)
Prefecture Road #2 and the like (31km) Orofure pass(オロフレ峠) [940m]
Noboribetsu hot spring(登別温泉) [190m]
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Prefecture Road #350 (11km)
Prefecture Road #2 (4 km) Mt.pass
Noboribetsu(登別) [6m]
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National Route #36 (32km)
Prefecture Road #141 (21km)
National Route #276,453 (6km)
Lake Shikotsu hot spring(支笏湖温泉) [270m]
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National Route #453 (38km)
Toyohira river cycle path(豊平川サイクリングロード) etc. (11km)
Sapporo(札幌) [20m]

(Red: National Route, Green: Prefecture Route, Yellow green: cycle path, gray: other roads)

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uploaded:26, 06, 2015