Kottaro viewing point コッタロ展望台
Day 24 October 1st.
The hotel breakfast is a self-service buffet which, for the price, is not at all bad so we leave our first Super Hotel with a positive feeling.
Our next destination is Lake Takkobu, where we planed to go canoeing but, on arrival, we discover that canoeing is over for the season. The campsite, at the same location, is very good so we decide to make this our place to spend the night. Thus decided, we drive to a viewing point to see the Kushiro wetlands.
The final stretch of road, to the viewing spot (Kottaro viewing point), proves to be 5 kilometres or so of unmade up track but, on arrival, a short, sharp climb through spindly woods gives us a fantastic view of the surrounding wetlands.
The vegetation is similar to Sasa(bamboo grass) but taller and thinner with a sprinkling of spindly, though not very tall, trees. Given the late autumn browns, the general impression is of the Serengeti though, of course, it is swamp underfoot not dry scrubland. From the viewing point, one can see a long distance to the far mountains. Closer, are some patches of open water with their compliment of wintering ducks. Binoculars reveal the white patches to be, not swans, but deer’s arses.
Kushiro wetland – Onnenai 釧路湿原ー温根内
As we need food, we make for a convenience store to buy lunch. This we eat in the car park of the next nature trail (Onnenai boardwalk). The trail proves to be a pleasant walk but no sign of life at all. Well we do come across the odd homo sapiens and on the final kilometer we meet a young shima hebi (Japanese rat snake) which is a constrictor and quite harmless and then a couple of even younger Mamushi(viper). I am assuming they were younger as they were very small but I have no idea of snake development. The mamushi, of course, are not constrictors but venomous and can be fatal.
Most of the nature trail, through the wetlands, again gives the initial impression of the Serengeti. The last section, where we met the snakes, was overshadowed by large trees and very damp and shady – full of mosquitoes. Ok wildlife, I admit.
We drive back to Kushiro, to get some supplies, and then return to the Lake Takkobu camp site and its unused canoes. The sunset over the lake is superb. We take a lot, really a lot, of photos; probably all the same. They do, however, form a kind of progression sequence of the setting sun.
Even after the sun has set, there is that autumn afterglow and the brightness in the evening sky is highlighted by the delicate silhouettes of spindly birch trees. Venus, I am guessing, very bright and very low on the horizon sinking rapidly as we enjoy our evening meal.
However, it is now the weekend, and the campsite is busy with weekenders. There are children and noisy dogs and this curmudgeon is used to having campsites to himself. It is not, however, the other campers but the steadily increasing damp that finally forces us inside the van.
＊Takkobu auto-campsite 100yen/person + tent site 640yen
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.