In the fish market of Wakkanai, whole salmon, very large fish were on sale for 3000 or 4000 yen.
I was surprised to see street signs in Japanese, English and Russian but apparently there are a lot of Russian fishing boats trading on this coast.
We take the opportunity to have a bath in a large onsen (hot spring) by the port. The bath is on the second floor and is busy with families as it is the weekend.
＊ Onsen ‘Minato no Yu’ 750 yen/adult
We stay at a campsite a little out of Wakkanai. It is set in a large park area with kid’s playgrounds and a substantial park golf course. This is our first encounter with park golf which the participants take very seriously but to me looks ridiculous. The surface on which it is played is completely unpredictable so as to render any kind of precision impossible. So, play for fun – fine, but to take it seriously enough to practice – that escapes me. Perhaps I am missing something.
From our campsite we take a short drive to a viewing point to watch a disappointing sunset. From this low hill, we can see the aircraft approach lights of Wakkanai Airport flashing and Mt.Rishiri in the distance.
＊ Soya Fureai Park Campsite 1000 yen
At breakfast, our camp chairs break. One is still usable, but the other is completely useless. We spent some time choosing these chairs and although we did see some much better ones these seemed a good choice for the price. But both have failed at the same point indicating a design weakness.
This necessitates going back into Wakkanai as the most likely place to find replacements. At the first Home Centre we visit, we can only find the same brand and design, so we go to another one and pick up a couple of cheap, very simple chairs of a different design and maker. They are far from comfortable but appear sturdy.
Our next destination is Cape Souya and the Sea of Okhotsk which, when we arrive or rather as we approach does not fit our preconceived image. We expected huge waves pounding a cold, rocky shore perhaps with some sleet or at least a gale force wind.
Instead it is a mill pond; warm and sunny and a shallow glass sea. Hundreds of heron standing in the water quite far out indicate just how shallow the water is..
From the most northerly point of the Japanese archipelago the clear weather allows us to see Russia (Sakhalin) quiet plainly. There are a few deer wandering about but we don’t see any foxes though there are signs warning people not to feed them.
Pressing on we drive along the coast, not of the Pacific as we thought, but the Sea of Okhotsk. The road is very straight and gently undulating and out progress sedate.
It is noticeable that people in Hokkaido generally drive steadily: waiting patiently in the side road as you approach rather than slipping out in front of you and causing you to brake a la Kyushu. Our fuel consumption average climbs to 14.9 km/liter. As opposed to the more usual 12.6.
Nightfall finds us at Usutaibe Senjoiki, a large free campsite on the coast. We walk to the rocky promontory where there is a memorial to some shipwreck.
*Usutaibe Senjyoujiki campsite is free. (Esashi town, R238)
famous local food
Scallops, Herring, Hairy crab, Sea urchin……
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.