This time next month we’ll be in Hokkaido at the start of three weeks of cycle touring. Here’s an update on our plan so far.
We’re using the Seishun 18 Ticket to get to Hokkaido. It’s an amazing deal: unlimited travel on local trains for just over ¥2000 per person per day. We’re taking a leisurely journey from Fukushima to Hokkaido over the course of two days. Our first day sees us travel from our home in Koriyama to Aomori, travelling 512km in just over 10 hours.
The next day, we’ll travel through the Seikan Tunnel to Hokkaido, and then on to Date-Mombetsu via Hakodate and Oshamambe. We’ll collect our bikes, then begin the cycling part of our trip.
Cycling Part One: Shikotsu-Toya National Park
We’re spending the first part of our trip exploring the Shikotsu-Toya National Park. The park is an area of volcanic activity, with plenty of cool stuff to see. Its two large lakes, Lake Toya and Lake Shikotsu, give the park its name. We hope to explore the lava dome of Showa-shinzan, and to climb nearby Mt Usu. There are opportunities for canoeing on both lakes, which will make a nice change from exploring by bike. Volcanic activity means there are several onsen in the area, where we’ll be able to enjoy a soothing mineral bath. This guidebook can tell you more about what’s on offer in the park.
Cycling Part Two: Iwamizawa and beyond
Our friends Clare and Andy live in Hokkaido. They are pretty much the reason that we came to Japan. Their decision to leave England and sign up for the JET Programme inspired us to take similar steps a year later. In an unexpected twist, they have also developed an interest in bicycle touring during their time here. We’re aiming to get to their place in Iwamizawa by the 25th or 26th so that we can ride with them over the weekend. We’re not sure of a direction or a route yet, only of the fine company we’ll keep.
Cycling Part Three: Northwards to Rishiri Island
The final part of our trip is the most loosely planned. We’ll work our way up the west coast to Rishiri Island at the far north of Hokkaido, passing through other national and prefectural parks, and camping with our tent facing the sunset over the sea. Rishiri Island rises from the Sea of Japan, so we’ll get there by ferry from Wakkanai. If we have time, we might explore further, to nearby Rebun Island, or down the east coast of the Hokkaido mainland.
We’ll send our bikes home by courier, in the same way that we sent them up to Hokkaido. Our general plan for getting ourselves home is also much looser. We’ll probably take several local trains using the Seishun 18 ticket, or maybe we’ll hop on a ferry to Sendai. We’ll decide nearer to the time.
The excitement is starting to build. Slowly, as things fall into place, I’m starting to look forward to our adventure more and more. Of course, we have a to-do list that’s as long as my arm. But for now, I’m just enjoying the anticipation.
Let us know your thoughts about our plans in the comments below.