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Eastern Hokkaido Part 1: From Sapporo to Shiretoko

From the 22th to 24th of February, I went on a trip through Eastern Hokkaido with my friend Park. The landscape of eastern Hokkaido is stunningly beautiful and we were really lucky with the weather. We travelled by bus and JR Trains on a 3 day Rail Pass. In hindsight a rental car would probably have been the more sensible choice as there are only very few buses in remote areas (like three per day) and the JR Trains are not cheap at all – even on a 3 day student pass (20000jpy).

After around five hours on the train from Sapporo, we stopped at Engaru Station. There are only few dead-end stations in Japan, from what I have experienced – in contrast to Europe. However, Japanese trains are of course equipped to deal with that, so it is possible to rotate all seats on the train by 180 degrees! That is also incredibly useful when travelling in groups, as you can just turn the seats and then easily talk with four people!

Engaru

At Abashiri, we changed trains and hopped onto the Ryuhyo (Japanese for drift ice) Norokko Train, a special, old train that runs along the coast so you can see the drift ice from the train.

Abashiri

Of course there is also a little shop on the train and surely they also sell special drift ice beer!

Ryuhyo Norokko

We got some regional pudding to go along with it..

Ryuhyo Norokko

The train stopped a few times for roughly ten minutes to allow people to get out and take some pictures!

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Some train stations were really interesting, with greetings and business cards all over the place..

Ryuhyo Norokko

The little shop on the train sold out very quickly!

Ryuhyo Norokko

As you can see on the right, there also was a guide on board who told a few interesting facts about what we were seeing. We saw a few foxes as well!

Slowly, the Shiretoko Peninsula came into sight..

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We arrived in Shiretoko-shari and still had some time to kill before boarding the bus, so we went to look around the (small) town.

Ryuhyo Norokko

The Ryuhyu Norokko has its special diesel engine locomotive, which attracts many train lovers all over Japan :)

Ryuhyo Norokko

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The town of Shiretoko-shari is a small town between mountains..

Shiretoko-shari

and the see!

Shiretoko-shari

although the fishing boats didn’t seem to be in use during winter :p

The bus finally arrived and we headed over to Utoro, the largest town on the Shiretoko Peninsula. To view the sunset we climbed the Oronkoiwa Rock, right next to Utoro’s harbour.

Utoro

It was a little bit cloudy but we had a great, dim sunset! The view from Oronkoiwa was not bad either :)

Utoro

The drift ice did seem to continue on into infinity..
The view to the other side – the Shiretoko National Park – was pretty good as well!

Utoro

Utoro

We went back to the place at which we were going to stay for the night.

Utoro

On the way back, we noticed some voices and music from the other side of the Uron Rock so we decided to check that out first.

Utoro

As it turns out, there was going to be a small live concert and a huge lightshow later that night. After dinner (which was amazing in taste and size, especially for what we paid) we went back there with two Japaense guys who stayed at the same place.

Utoro

There were maybe around 150 people watching and free Cacao was handed out.

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After the short concert, the light show (Aurora Fantasia – オローラファンタジア) began and was quite impressive!

Utoro

We finished the day at a close by Onsen!

Read Part 2 and Part 3

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