Day 16, September 2016,
Wake to a wet day, so wet we are at a bit of a loss. We abandon plans to climb, well walk up, Kurodake and instead head for Kitami. This proves to be a much larger town than we anticipated. We go to a huge Aeon supermarket and wander around, keeping out of the rain until lunch.
We move on to Nitori (furniture shop) and buy a duvet as, from now on, it is only going to get colder. I was surprised to note that the Nitori car park had a charging point for electric cars.
Bihoro Pass (Toge) 美幌峠
Equipped with our new warm bedding, we drive on towards Lake Kussharo. On the way we drive up Bihoro toge (Bihoro pass) and attempt to take in the famous view of Lake Kussharo. At the top the fog is so thick we almost miss the car park for the Gurutto Panorama Bihorotoge (michi-no-eki on route 243). Pulling in, at the last minute, it is clear no panorama is available. Nevertheless, we stretch our legs and cast a bored eye over the usual tat on offer at yet another famous site.
Wakoto Peninsula Campsite, Lake Kussharo
We planned to stay at Wakoto peninsula campsite by Lake Kussharo, but this proves to be damp and dismal having recently flooded. The nearby campsite is very swish and does not allow shachuhaku (sleep in the car). The friendly lady in charge suggests we stay in the car park next door, which prohibits overnight parking, as she has no objection.
We go for a walk around part of the lake but the recent flooding makes a decent walk impossible. Elderly people are squelching through the mud all heading for a natural onsen at the edge of the lake. It is possible to glimpse bare bums through the bushes if you really want to. The swans, that have clearly not yet arrived for the winter, make use of this onsen we learn later.
Being a little dismayed by this muddy wasteland, we abandon Lake Kussharo and make for a michi-no-eki Mashu onsen. This proves to be a good michi no eki and we don’t regret changing plans. We can’t cook in the michi no eki but the soggy campsite was not conducive to gourmet dining either.
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.