Road trip in DOUOH【Central HOKKAIDO】5 days model course
Note: Hokkaido is usually separated into four regions, namely ‘Doutoh’(Eastern Hokkaido), ‘Douoh’(Central Hokkaido), ‘Donan’(Southern Hokkaido) and ‘Dohoku’ (Northern Hokkaido) and this magazine uses the same terms.
Having the freedom to travel where ever you desire is the best if you want to enjoy Hokkaido’s spring, summer and autumn. It is exhilarating to cruise along wide roads and open spaces in Hokkaido’s cool and comfortable climate. With this free and easy 5 days 4 nights model course as a guide, you can easily plan a road trip with family or friends.
Note: Travel distance may change with regards to different routes. The above is calculated according to general roads.
After your arrival in at New Chitose Airport, let’s move on to the nearby Sapporo. How about taking a stroll around Sapporo station’s shopping area after your check-in to a hotel nearby. With the conglomeration of various electrical shops around, quickly grab a digital camera before it’s too late! Take your time and savor a Hokkaido-styled dinner at a hotel. For the true food addict, make your way to a ‘Sapporo ramen’ stall for supper!
And now, the second day marks the true beginning to your roadtrip. Don’t forget to request for an English GPS navigator and an ETC unit convenient for expressways with toll gates. Using the Hokkaido Expressway, select a route that offers you a view of the Pacific Ocean. Departing from Sapporo, pass by Tomakomai, Shiraoi and arrive at Noboribetsu to be surrounded by the air of Hokkaido. Noboribetsu is the heaven of hot springs and the representative of Hokkaido. After a few minutes walk from the hot spring town, you will reach ‘Hell’s Valley’ and be enveloped by a strong sulfuric smell. Check out the rising steam and puddles of bubbling water before you. After that, why not enjoy a soak at the hot springs in the surrounding hotels with spring water fresh from here?
Leaving Noboribetsu, how about an encounter with the panoramic sight from Orofure Pass while on your way towards Lake Toya? You can reach the pass in about 30 minutes and from the observation deck, be enchanted by an unobstructed view of the Pacific Ocean, Mount Yotei and Lake Toya. Lake Toya lies about 1 hour’s drive from Orofure Pass. While enjoying this lake with the surrounding Showa Shinzan, Mount Usu and Mount Yotei, why not hop on the sightseeing ferry that goes to the four islands in the lake? Relax and gaze upon the quiet lake. Stay a night at one of the hotels in Lake Toya hot spring town and enjoy the dancing fireworks in the night sky from the comfort of your room or from an outdoor hot spring.
On the third day, check out of your hotel in Lake Toya after a leisurely walk along the lakeside. Let’s cruise along the foot of beautiful Mount Yotei. Take a brief break at Kyogoku-cho’s ‘Fukidashi park’, famous as the site of the fount of spring water fresh from Mount Yotei. Be refreshed by the delicious spring water that flows endlessly from its source.
Next on your itinerary would be Niseko, the resort town blessed with its radiant displays of the four seasons in nature. While the image of powder snow during winter is well-known, the bountiful riches of nature in Niseko during summertime is also highly recommended. Tourists who revel in outdoor activities can enjoy rafting and canoeing in the clear stream of Shiribetsu River. For those who want to catch the best view, you can go to Niseko Annupuri’s observation deck located at the 7th station. Behold the majesty of Mount Yotei and Mount Usu, and get an unobstructed view of The Gulf of Uchiura in the far distance.
Upon leaving Kutchan, head out to the breath-taking sceneries offered by Shakotan Peninsula. The coastal drive, with rows of steep cliffs jutting out along the peninsula, will be a sight never to forget. Here, you can get to observe several strange rock formations. Ougon Misaki’s observation deck is situated just after Shakotan-cho and from its vantage point, you can easily see the treasure island opposite the coast, Bikuni Port. If you drive further north, you will reach the northernmost tip of the peninsula. Check out the unique rock formations here, including ‘Joroko-iwa’ and other beautiful cliffs of this coastal area. The fresh ‘uni’ (sea urchin) is one of the famous local fare that must not be missed in this coastal town. Try the sweet and delicious ‘Bafun uni’(green sea urchin), taken fresh from the sea. In addition, try the seafood bowl filled to the brim with the various seafood freshly caught from the summer sea.
Upon returning to the coastal road, head towards Otaru to reach Yoichi. Experience fruit picking at the fruit tree nurseries in Yoichi-cho. With a variety of fruits including cherries, plum, peach and grapes, pluck these sweet and juicy fruits with your hands and eat it on the spot. To prepare for tomorrow’s tour of Otaru, check in to a hotel in Otaru. Why not enjoy a leisurely stroll along the romantic Otaru Canal in the night.
On the fourth day, let’s take a stroll in Otaru while enjoying the sea breeze. Slowly walk on the path along the canal that is lined with stone-made warehouses, and tour around streets infused with nostalgia and strewn with old shophouses and residential homes. Make a trip to famous spots in Otaru environs. After a 15 minutes drive, you will reach Takashima cape, a high cliff that overlooks Ishikari Bay. There is also ‘Otaru Aquarium’ with the popular dolphins and sea lions show, and ‘Nishin Goden’ in the old fishing union house turned into a museum for herrings.
From Otaru, drive on towards Jozankei! The Otaru-Jozankei road that runs between valleys and cliffs offers a beautiful view of the area. Along the way, there is a dam upstream of Asari River, and with a park filled with great facilities, the view from there is not to be missed.
After reaching Jozankei, relax and refresh yourself from the long hours of driving in a hot spring. You can simply feel the warmth of hot springs within the forests when walking along the hot spring street. In addition, there are even hot springs for your hands or feet only, so why not go and try it out?
There are famous spots on your drive toward the center of Sapporo after you leave Jozankei hot springs. Running along southern Mount Moiwa is ‘Mount Moiwa sightseeing road’, with an enjoyable drive that provides magnificent sights of primeval forests along the way. There is a carpark for an observation deck along this road, and Sapporo’s scenic night view can be seen from here. After arrival at Sapporo’s hotel, make your way over to Japan’s northernmost downtown, Susukino! With ‘Izakaya’ (Japanese styled bars offering delicious seafood cuisines), shops specializing in ramens along ‘Susukino Ramen Yokocho’, enjoy yourself and titillate your tastebuds along this bustling street.
Let’s check out various popular spots of Sapporo, including the 38 floors JR Tower’s observation deck, Mount Moiwa ropeway, ‘Shiroi Koibito Park’ and Sapporo Dome. Make sure you have enough time to browse through the shops and malls too.
A free and easy roadtrip that allows you the freedom to enjoy the sights of Hokkaido to the fullest. Although a guided tour is fine, how about planning a trip that caters to your every whims and desires? The freedom to have as much fun as you want!