We started the day off at Kawayu Onsen – on the way to the bus stop we spotted a Rotenburo (open air bath), which was charmingly located next to the road!
We were heading for the train to go south in a comfy local train..
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!
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.
Once more a post about a trip from a while back!
A friend visited me in Hokkaido and we went on a trip around the Shakotan peninsula, just north-west of Sapporo. While Shakotan can be accessed by Bus, it is a whole lot more convenient by car especially in Autumn/Winter as the Bus service is very limited.
We stopped by in Otaru and its Habour to have some Sushi and rent a car..
And off we went! Shakotan has a lot of mountains – or rather hills. Therefore, there are an astonishing amount of tunnels, some of which are a few kilometeres long. I am always wondering about the viability of building and maintaining those tunnels – it probably does not pay off, considering that Shakotan has a population of only 2500 people. But fortunately Countries are not entirely for profit entities – yet…
I haven’t posted to my blog in almost two months! There is a lot of stuff keeping me busy at the moment and I have hardly taken any pictures at all recently. I’ll try to update my blog more frequently (predominantly with “old” stuff) in the coming weeks though.
During the New Year’s Holidays I went to Biei, Hokkaido with a couple of friends. I have been to Biei before in autumn but it was worth visiting again, especially since the blue pond was going to be lit up in the evening.
Before taking the bus to the Blue Pond close to Biei we walked around Biei’s famous Hills. Unfortunately time was rather limited as the bus only runs three times a day.
After a 30min bus ride we arrived at the Blue Pond! In hindsight we could have guessed what we were going to see..
Of course the Blue Pond was frozen and covered with snow! It is called the Blue Pond due to the blue tint of the water, for which the cause is not known yet. We were able to see some blueish water a little bit down the stream though:
A couple of weeks ago I visited the Moerenuma Park on the outskirts of Sapporo. However, I put off writing about it until now, that the snow has started falling in Sapporo. The Moerenuma Park was designed by Isamu Noguchi who was a famous Japanese American landscape architect.
At the entrance of the park, you can rent bikes for little money (about 200Yen for 2h) which I recommend, as the park is huge. Upon entering the park, which is free, a large glass pyramid greets you. The pyramid houses a large exhibition space and at the time I was there mostly presented average paintings with seemingly no coherent theme.
You can climb the pyramid to get an overview of the park, though!
The weekend from 18th to 19th October was said to have great weather in Hokkaido, so I set out to try to climb Mt Yotei (Yoteizan or 羊蹄山). Mt Yotei is one of Japan’s 100 famous mountains and is also called Ezo Fuji, meaning “Fuji of Hokkaido” because of its shape which resembles Mt Fuji. While it is “only” 1898m high, it is Japan’s 10th highest mountain by prominence (basically relating to the elevation of its surroundings). Starting at 300m the difference in elevation is about 1600m, which is pretty close to Mt Fuji’s difference in elevation at 1700m when starting at the 5th station. I chose the Hangetsu route from Hirafu Station, next to Niseko because it was the most accessible to me (as I don’t have a car). The plan was to arrive as late as possible at Hirafu station, maybe stocking up on food at a Convenicene store, having a little rest and then starting the climb at around 1am to reach the summit at sunrise.
I arrived at 21:23 with the last train at Hirafu station and it was pitch black. This time I also took some video footage, but I am not sure really what to do with it yet. I might figure out something later.. Anyway, I was amazed by how much the camera was able to see in the darkness!
To my surprise, there was even a little building beside the tracks and the light was actually still on! I went inside and discovered that it was a little self-service guesthouse. I was even more suprised that there were actually people staying there, as the climbing season in Hokkaido is officially over and the skiing season has not begun yet. The people were very nice and we talked about the surrounding mountains, had tea and I ate something. Assuringly they also told me, that bears (which are not uncommon in Hokkaido) are usually not seen around this area, which was good to start with.
I changed clothes and left at around 23:30 for the trail head, as I wanted to take some pictures along the way. It’s about a 2km walk on a road from the station to the camping ground next to the trailhead. The weather was clear and no clouds in sight, making for an amazing night sky!