Day 18, September 2016,
Sleep well, as usual, and eat outside. Still not too cold for outdoor life, in fact, it is T shirt weather… Sakuragaoka Koen auto-campsite is very good but due to close for the winter the next day.
＊Sakuragaoka Koen auto-campsite changed to ‘RECAMP Mashu’
Sunayu campsite by Lake Kussharo
Once more we find ourselves driving along another side of Lake Kussharo. We stop to walk along the lake but the lakeside is a campsite; that too is closing and people are busy cleaning and packing up.
The lake shore boasts an onsen(Sunayu hot spring) availability which means you can dig the lake shore shingle to create a bath sized hole that will dutifully fill with barely tepid water. I think you would have to be an onsen geek or get much from such and exercise. The woods of the campsite and lake shore in general have been badly damaged by last month’s typhoon; trees uprooted everywhere.
We move on through more open country of potato fields, corn, huge agricultural machines, high tech tractors, long straight roads and mountains in the distance. We stop at a information spot in Kiyosato town which is pushing a local potato shochu (distilled spirits). I can’t vouch for the quality of the shochu (I was driving) but the packaging was excellent. The box was very elegant and the bottle and logo had been awarded a good design medal, deservedly so I thought. The investment in design clearly paid off as we bought a bottle to send to D’s sister as a present.
Duty done, we drive on and hit the coast at Shiretoko hanto (peninsula) to pay homage to one of the top one hundred waterfalls in Japan(Oshinkoshin waterfall). Slightly dampened by the experience, we U-turn to check the salmon river we had just passed. In this stream, it is hardly a river, we can see large numbers of salmon of various sizes all pointing upstream just hanging in the water. No jumping, but occasional frenzied activity under the water as places are exchanged. There was some kind of barrier to prevent them moving upstream though I was not sure why or even if I was correct in this. There was also what I took to be salmon culture facility at the site with various pools and channels. I had seen salmon jumping upstream in Pitlochry in Scotland but never such numbers of large fish outside a fish market.
Our campsite for the night is on a ridge overlooking a small fishing port. The campsite is not that great. There is a lot of damage from the typhoon large tree boughs strew the ground which is not very flat for a campsite.
The site is famous for viewing the sunset over the Sea of Okhotsk but after Lake Saroma I am a little blasé about sunsets so we go for a walk. On our return, we find that a lot of people have arrived just to see the spectacle.
＊Kokusetsu Shiretoko yaeijou （campsite） 500yen/person. <open 6/1 ~ 9/30>
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.