September 25 – October 4, 2018
After one week in Sapporo, we hit the road and started a month round trip around Hokkaido. Our first stop was Shiretoko national park in the northeast corner of the island. Since the train is unreasonable pricey (around 8000 JPY pp), we decided to hitchhike for the first time. To increase the chances we moved only a few stops by train to the city outskirts where leads a main road to the east. Since hitchhiking is not much common in Japan, we had no big expectations. After one hour of failure, we decided to have lunch at one small eatery at the road. Luckily one couple offered us a ride to Asahikawa. While it got dark, we spend a night there in Smile hotel (double for 7,125 JPY). In the morning we had to wander to the main road a few kilometers. At Lawson convenience store a fearless young girl saved us and took us to Kitami, which is about 150 km. As we found out later, it wasn’t her destination. She drove us just for fun. And finally, we went with a funny kind of drunk father and driving sober son. Although they went only to Abashiri, they stretched out a journey for another 50 km to Shari. And they bought us a coffee and cooked corn. Yes, it last two days, but it was a fun experience and we saved a lot of money.
Read more: Relaxing days in Sapporo
Our accommodation in Shari was a good deal (a bunk bed for 1500 JPY). We stayed at Clione camp on the edge of the village. A big wooden structure with a few dorms, spacious common room, kitchen and two onsens as a bathroom. They also offered some cottages and spots for a tent. The only inconvenience is to get to the city centre where are groceries and bus/train terminal, while it is about 2 km walk. Shari is a sleepy town with a few eateries, shops, supermarket, and other city’s necessities, but a good base for exploring Shiretoko peninsula.
Next day after a bit struggling with hitchhiking we came to Shiretoko Park to hike around Five lakes (Shiretoko Goko). There are two possible walks. The first one is 800 m elevated wooden boardwalk to see one lake, surrounding forest, mountains, and Okhotsk sea. Admission free. The other depends on the time of the visit. From spring opening to late October, you can walk on your own, just with 20 minutes safety introduction. The fee is 250 JPY. In the bear active season (May to July), it’s allowed only with a guided 3 hours tour and cost 5,000 JPY. Both possibilities are for limited small groups. In the late autumn, it’s free of charge. We’ve been there in September, which is the best time, we think. No guide, fewer visitors and firstly colourful leaves. The walk itself is pretty easy, almost flat 3 km pathway in a lush forest around all five lakes (how surprising). We spotted lots of birds, a deer, but any bear. Luckily. Back to our camp, we caught an elderly couple on vacation, who took us to Shari.
It is the biggest town in the area. A fine stop if you pass by or half a day trip. We visited a nice municipal museum in a European style villa with displays about the city’s history and nature, near temple complex, had a great lunch and walked in the harbour. There is also an ice drift museum, but it was too far and expensive for us.
Because we had no car, and we weren’t able to get to Mount Rausu, the highest peak in Shiretoko, we decided to climb Mount Shari, which is located 15 km southwest from Shari town. It was certainly the best hike in Hokkaido for us. Details are in another article.
Shari town surroundings
Due to crazy weather this year, we had to stay one day in the camp, while our third typhoon came. It was only raining in the forenoon, so after lunch, we took bicycles and rode out of the city, as the day before. In fact, there is not much to see. Just a few small lakes, volcanic sand beaches, and fishermen on their daily catch.
After a week in Shiretoko area, we moved south to Mashu lake.