A cold, grey, cloudy morning but no real rain. Our plan is to visit Kiritappu. Due to the weather, we avoided the campsite for last night but still want to revisit this headland.
On our way to Kiritappu, we spot several deer on a hillside and a very pretty young fox on the road ahead. This small fox abandons the middle of the road at our approach and hides under the large Fuki leaves on the verge. We can see its nose and bright eyes as we crawl past.
We stop at Akkeshi Gourmet michi no eki which is apparently famous for its food – number one for the last 3 consecutive years. The food on offer was heavy on the oysters and pricy. We didn’t eat there.
Cape Kiritappu was warmer and less windswept than expected. The sea was rough and visibility not so great but an exhilarating headland to walk on. We saw nesting gulls and cormorants but no seals and sadly no sign of the sea otter we spotted last time we were here.
There were some horses, with delightful foals, in the pasture though.
Near the Cape, the Kiritappu wetland was a carpet of white Watasuge (cottongrass) flowers. A little further along the coast, we stopped at Biwase viewpoint to see the magnificent view of the wetland on one side and the sea on the other.
Here again, we note the unmistakable sound of a Latham’s Snipe but, this time, are unable to locate the bird.
We drive to Green Park Tsurui for a bath. Onsen are not numerous in the Kushiro area. This onsen is in Tsuruimura (Tsurui village), famous, would you believe, for Tsuru or Japanese cranes.
These birds, very important in Japan as symbols of long life, are often depicted on Kimono and screens. Large numbers winter in this village and, in recent years, some have become resident.
The first one we see is in a farmyard, some 20 kilometres before we reach the village. In the village itself we see none this time.
The onsen is very good. D. likes the murky brown water, a result of the peaty soil. The outside bath has no view but is ok.
＊Green Park Tsurui onsen ; 600 yen
From the onsen we cross Kushiro city to Takkobu Auto Camp by Lake Takkobu. Again, we have stayed here before. It is cheap and a very good spot. This time though, instead of magnificent sunsets over the lake and cranes flying low overhead we are content that it is not actually raining.
On our last visit here, we couldn’t rent canoes because the lake was flooded, the aftermath of a typhoon. This time, again, canoeing is not possible as the water is lower than normal allowing an abundant growth of Hishi (water chestnut). This excessive weed growth makes canoeing dangerous, apparently. Once again our canoeing hopes are dashed.
At this campsite there is an announcement in the morning of a bear sighting in the area, giving the name of the exact location and impressing on everyone the need to be careful. This local place name meant nothing to us so quite how “being careful” is achieved we remained unsure.
The author is a long term resident of Japan who has and continues to travel the country extensively. Avoiding highways where possible, the author has driven from Kagoshima in Kyushu to Wakanai in Hokkaido covering 20,000 plus kilometres and counting.