Late September ’22
Lake Kanayama and Torinuma Koen 金山湖、鳥沼公園
Today we visited Lake Kanayama. This is accessible near a campsite and one or two other spots but offers no lakeside paths as far as we could see. It is a large lake with no particularly distinguishing features.
From the lake we visit Torinuma Koen(park) in Furano. This a supposed bird sanctuary and as we wander through the dark woods, we note evidence of rotted bird houses clinging to trees as others lie mouldering in the undergrowth.
There is pleasant pond of very clear water fed by an underground spring. Large Nijimasu (Rainbow trout?) glide about in the pristine environment. There were a couple of white rowing boats, presumably for hire but the small hut was shut up.
Most noticeable was the complete absence of birds. Not a feather fluttered in the bushes. High overhead and entirely unseen, probably bulbuls, squawked in the treetops. Finally, I did see a lone nuthatch but that was it.
Michi no eki Maoi-no-oka Park
From the park and adjacent burger bar which seemed popular as a date spot, we drive south to michi no eki Maoi-no-ka park. The drive across the plains, with a pink-orange sky and newish moon that became stronger as the light faded plus the stands of pine skirting the fields creating fine silhouettes gave us perhaps the best views of the day.
Michi no eki Maori-no-oka proves to be very noisy on a Saturday morning. It is a meeting spot for biker groups and hosts an excellent veg. and fruit market but is, nevertheless, fine for a shachuhaku stay.
Muroran, Cape Chikyu 室蘭、地球岬
Leaving the michi no eki, we drive to Muroran city where we take a look at Cape Chikyu (Earth). Here there is a lighthouse, a view of the sea and some very Showa music piped at the unsuspecting visitors. The view from the viewing platform shows a craggy headland and the industrial town below. This is not a place worthy of a special visit. Nice enough, as a date spot and, as such, seemed to be functioning smoothly.
Noboribetsu Onsen 登別温泉
We leave and head for Hell. Specifically, Oyunuma at Noboribetsu onsen. On arrival, it is not clear where we can park but a young man guarding a large hotel’s parking kindly invites us to park in the hotel spaces when we enquire where the car park is.
From there, it is a ten-minute walk to the pond. The walk is through woods along an evidently hot spring stream. A one point, we come across people enjoying an ashiyu or footbath. Emerging from the woods, we come out on a road and then to a large sulphurous pond. Gas is rising from one area and some shallow areas splutter and gloop. The surrounding area is scarred yellow, grey and white from the sulphurous emissions.
At the far end, there is a car park and from there, we later discover, there is a footpath over the ridge to Noboribetsu Onsen Jigoku Dani or Hell Valley. The pond seemed to us the more interesting of the two places.
Having breathed our fill of sulphurous air, we go to Yumoto Grand Hotel for a bath. The bath is hot and spacious and even on a Saturday at 5pm virtually empty. The rotenburo or outside bath is just a token.
From the onsen it is quite a drive to our michi no eki so, unusually, we take a highway and pull in at Kuromatsunai with a crescent moon so low it appears to be in someone’s back garden.
Michi no eki Kuromatsunai
Michi no eki Kuromatsunai is excellent. There is ample parking, the facilities are first class and the surroundings pleasant. It has a park golf course and some shops. The bakery and pizza place apparently have some fame as does the local cheese. There was a queue for the bakery, prior to its opening at 9am, but it did not appear to be anything special.
As I assume is policy now in Hokkaido, there are no rubbish bins at all but there is an outside tap so rinsing cups and plates is possible. Dogs seem to be welcome. A good place.
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.