Esashi, Kaiyomaru then Hokuto 江差から北斗
Day 33, October 2016,
Oshamanbe Park 長万部公園
Wake to another day of uncertain weather but it remains dry enough for us to breakfast next to the stream. We explore Oshamanbe Park finding signs of salmon in the stream some live and still more dead fish. Sadly the trail is closed with yellow do not enter tapes. Typhoon damage, presumably, has rendered it impassable or dangerous. The tent nearest to us on the river bank has a chimney smoking vigorously something I have never seen before.
Leaving Oshamanbe, we cross the mountains to the Japan Sea coast along route 277 through Unseki Pass. This proves to be a magnificent drive through spectacular scenery; crags and trees and precipices and trees and precipices and crags but no real autumn colours.
Esashi ‘Kaiyomaru’ 開陽丸
Hitting the coast, we drive through small and very quiet fishing towns. The coastal scenery is all ragged cliffs and fantastic rock formations. To better admire the coastal scenery, we drop into a michi no eki overlooking bays edged with jagged rocks. Later, at another road station for lunch, we look over a Bakufu naval vessel ‘Kaiyomaru’ at Esashi. We discover that it was built for the Tokugawa Shogunate by the Dutch and played its part in the war of the Meiji Restoration on the losing side. The vessel was wrecked in a typhoon, not through military action, and had been salvaged and restored. The restoration is only of the hull for the inside housed a museum of the vessels history and replicas of life aboard a late Tokugawa ship.
Lost in Hokuto
Edging on down the coast looking for somewhere congenial to stop for the night but we have little luck. The michi no eki on this section of coast are very small, not conducive to overnight stays, so we give up and push on to a campsite in Hokuto outside Hakodate. By the time we arrive in the Hokuto area it is getting late, well getting dark which is not usually the same thing but for our purpose it is. Our Navi. makes a serious error and after taking us up into the mountains via a series of ever narrower lanes informs us we have arrived. There is a farmhouse, a dog barking and a lot of complete darkness clearly this is not a campsite.
Kijihiki Highland Campsite きじひき高原
Re-calibrating, we wind through dark, narrow, country lanes for another 22 kilometres to the right place. It is hard to believe we are really on the right road until we are relieved and surprised by our own arrival. The campsite itself is great in that the management is friendly, if eccentric, and it commands a fantastic view from the mountain top over the city lights of Hokuto Port and the bay far below. We have the whole site to ourselves apart from 3 young men. A great site notwithstanding, it is a wet night and a cold wind is blowing. Curry in the car.
＊Kaiyomaru 500 yen/adult
＊Kijihiki Highland campsite 320yen
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.