Hokkaido - Sounkyo to Shiretoko
Updated: Nov 25, 2022
Today, we're in for a long drive. Estimated driving time - almost 5 hours.
Don't forget to fill up your music playlist, and let's get going! We left at 8am to kick off this day.
Cafe/Restaurant and public bathroom in a nearby building.
That was a really long drive from Sounkyo to Bihoro pass! Thank goodness my old iPod still works, entertaining us with tunes from the decades ago.
The bird’s eye view of Lake Kussharo from Bihoro Pass is absolutely breath taking. The sort where I wished that I brought a deck chair, a glass of ice cold soda, a pair of sunnies, to soak up the view. The view from Bihoro pass inspired a scene in the recent Japanese animation movie ‘What is your name?’ (君の名は).
As we stood there, gazing at the view, we wondered about how it must feel to see this sort of scenery every morning, on the way to work (or back from work). It is probably because we encounter concrete trees in Singapore all the time, that is why this sort of contrasting scene easily stole our hearts.
There is a stone carving of the lyrics to the song ‘Bihoro-Toge’ (美幌峠) sang by Ms. Hibari Misora.
For those who can/wanna sing along, this are the lyrics:
Wakoto Peninsula hike
Parking location: Google link
Before our lunch, we felt that we should to get some exercise in, since we’ve been barely clocking much steps this vacation. Wakoto Peninsula extends into Lake Kussharo from the southernmost edge of the water body. A number of people visit Wakoto Peninsula to camp and canoe. We were interested in the 2.5km hike around the coast of the peninsula. It is of mild-moderate intensity, with a few mildly steep slopes to hike up and some flights of stairs to walk down. The route was pleasant. We saw a bunch of cute wild flowers, and heard a few birds sing. If I lived nearby, I would love to hike this trail every weekend.
This pamphlet (though in Japanese) gives you an idea of the flora and fauna one may come across during the hike, though we didn't see any animals along the way.
Lunch @ Auberge Sora
屈斜路湖 鶴雅オーベルジュ SoRa
Tel: 015-484-2538 (Dinner - by Reservation only. Not sure if the same rules apply for lunch but we booked two days prior)
Perfect. This place is barely 5min away from our hiking location.
Set in an idyllic spacious greenland, Auberge Sora offers a prestigious getaway for the tired and hungry. Feeling famished from the hike, we jumped into the largest set: the Sora ソラ (¥4500). We primed ourselves for 8 courses, and we lavished every bite of them. All the ingredients were sourced within Hokkaido. The vegetables, fish, olives etc. We enjoyed that piece of steak. Whoever manned that grill station, we love you! The steak was juicy, and melted in our tongue like butter on a warm toast.
Accommodation at Tsuruga Auberge in Lake Kussharo SoRa © SoRa
For those who want to prolong the experience, Auberge Sora has some beautiful rooms. Do check out the pictures on their website under ご宿泊 (Stay).
Time for another very long drive to Shiretoko.
Waterfall of Oshinkoshin
One of Japan’s best 100 waterfalls, Oshinkoshin Waterfall is brimming with energy. As the water cascades over hundreds of small rocks stacked together, it eludes an imagery of a mosaic-styled waterfall. Midway, the waterfall splits into two halves, earning itself the nickname ’Twin Beauties Waterfall’.
Oshinkoshin Waterfall is easily accessible from the roadside.
Shiretoko Pass Observatory
Arrived: 6:15pm (We checked into our hotel first, and delayed our departure so that we could catch sunset at Shiretoko Pass)
The Shiretoko Pass cuts through the Shiretoko peninsula, connecting Utoro on the west coast with Rausu on the east side. As we drove along the windy road, we were treated to spectacular views of Mount Rausu. There is a dedicated viewing point with abundant parking. Watching the clouds cruise past us, the sounds of swooshing winds, the chilly weather, we realised how far east of Japan we have travelled. From a particular point, one can see the neighboring island, Kunashir, the southernmost island of Russia’s Kuril Islands.
The realisation of being this close to the end of Japan is mind-blowing, considering the amount of time we have spent in Japan. This is reason why we chose to visit Shiretoko.
Stay @ Shiretoko Noble Hotel
Free parking. Breakfast and Dinner inclusive in our booking.
When we were looking for hotels to stay in Utoro, Shiretoko, most of the hotels were fully booked. We narrowed our options to Shiretoko Noble Hotel because it is centrally located in Utoro, the room had a mix of both Western and Japanese decor, and the buffet spread looked yummy. I much enjoyed their deep-fried battered Oyster and mini-sashimi platter - kept going back for more! As we dined, the warm sunset rays filled the room, adding cheer to the chilly evening.
Tomorrow: We've got a lovely hike in store in Shiretoko, and we're zipping off to Abashiri at night. Our flight out the day after is from Memanbetsu Airport which is near to Abashiri. [Click on me for tomorrow's itinerary]
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