A warm, sunny morning and we enjoy breakfast outside, more comfortably than last night’s dinner. Packed, we drive to Hakodate and D. buys warm socks in Shimamura. (A cheap clothing chain that, we discover, has a major presence throughout the Japanese archipelago. Well, I can’t vouch for Okinawa but I wouldn’t bet against it.)
Cycling Lake Onuma
Thus equipped, we head back to Lake Onuma and rent bicycles. After dropping into 7/11 to buy onigiri for lunch we set off cycling. A short distance later, in Onuma Park, we are obliged to ditch our bikes so recently acquired, as they are not allowed. Consequently, we walk around the number of small islands connected by bridges.
It is very pretty and the views over the lake with the volcano in the distance are fabulous. It is very touristy, with lots of bus tours of Thais and Chinese, but the area is big enough to accommodate all without too much overcrowding. We walk around enjoying the views but here again the autumn colours are only just beginning. It is well worth the visit. After regaining our bikes, we set off around the lake a distance of 12 or 14 kilometres.
Before long, our aching arses remind us that we have not ridden bicycles for a good many years. Each stop, to take in the various views, is a welcome break but some serious peddling is required to get around the lake. We spot a greater spotted woodpecker. （around the lake is 14km.)
Seseragi Onsen, Hokuto city
We have decided to return to the excellent Kijihiki campsite on the hills overlooking Hokuto, so first we drop into a supermarket for supplies and then Seseragi Onsen in Hokuto city. The onsen is one of the very utilitarian type common, it would seem, in Hokkaido. This onsen provides no soap or shampoo, but is very large indeed and frequented by mainly local people. I thought, at first, that the place had a large mirror but then realized that the “reflection” was in fact an whole other area of the baths.
Time was short, we still had some distance to drive to the campsite, so a very quick, wash and out bath, was necessary. In less than 30 minutes we are heading to the car across the car park, it is almost dark and the weather is closing in rapidly.
We arrive at the campsite in torrential rain but we wait it out and it eases off enough for us to go ahead with our plan for a charcoal fire as we eat outside. This is a moderate success, as it keeps us marginally warmer and is ascetically pleasing, but the rain persists.
We meet a youngish couple from Osaka, the only other people in the campsite, and learn they will be on the same ferry, back to Honshu (the main island of Japan), as us. After dinner, we retreat into the car to watch TV and read a little. This is another recommendation for anyone considering such a trip. In the north in late autumn and early winter, as noted, it gets dark early, (5 p.m. by the time we got to Hakodate), so a tablet, that allows you to watch movies or TV series, that can easily be charged by the car and an e- reader that carries numerous books without taking up much space are essential- but you probably knew that.
＊rent bicycle 1000 yen/person
＊Kijihiki campsite 310 yen/tent
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.