Kutcharo Kohan Campsite
The Kutcharo Kohan campsite stands the test of an overnight stay.
In the morning, we look at the nature centre. This has a wide selection of stuffed bird and animals. Not hunter’s trophies, I hasten to add, but rescue animals that didn’t make it. From bears to weasels from Stella’s Sea Eagle to Goldcrest.
It is the wrong time of year for most of these species, unfortunately. It was also the wrong time of year for the famous Lake Kutcharo swans. These throng the lake in spring and autumn.
＊Lake Kutcharo Waterfowl Observatory ; free
From the campsite, we make our way to Wakkanai to prepare for the trip to Rebun.
Wakkanai is a very dead place especially on a Wednesday when almost everything is closed. I am forced to eat ramen which is something I avoid as a rule. There is a Russian restaurant (closed on Wednesday) and road signs in Russian and a neo classical sea wall sheltering a Coast Guard vessel but not much more of interest. There is a famous market ‘Fukuminato market’ (most of shops closed on Wednesdays) and this has a large, popular public bath on the first floor.
Oh, and people take pictures of the railway station, which is very modern, I think in remembrance of the station that was and the railway track that used to extend a further hundred metres or so.
Cape Soya 宗谷岬
On the way we did stop at Cape Soya, which is the most northerly point of Japan, which is its only point. To be fair, we saw a few remaining blooms of Kuroyuri (Black lily).
The sea here is surprisingly shallow. Extremities of land masses one expects to plunge into a maelstrom of boiling breakers, but this is the second time we are met by a calm, shallow Sea of Okhotsk. The first time it was literally a mirror – no exaggeration.
Wakanai michi no eki
We stay in the michi no eki at Wakanai. This is at the station and very close to the ferry port. The toilets are in the station, so it is a long trek from the car park for a piss in the night.
We check the free camp site. This is not so far away from the port but high on the headland above the town. It is quite a climb up a narrow, hairpin filled road. As a free camp site, it is not bad. There were several deer grazing peacefully at the site.
It is not easy to find food at a reasonable price but there is a Seicomart at one side of the station building and an expensive, cut price supermarket across the road.
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.