Cold and windy night in Wakkanai, but warm enough in the car. By morning, the breeze is still chilly but the clouds are breaking up and the sun is making the effort to break through. By the time we are ready to leave, it is a warm, sunny day.
Sarobetsu wetland by Ororon line
We take the coast road – Ororon line (R.232) back towards Sarobetsu. This is a great road, following the coast with splendid views of Mt. Rishiri and with flowers busting through the sasa on either side.
As we head south, we can see the array of wind turbines standing tall and hazy in the distance- the Otonrui Wind Farm. I always find them fascinating and majestic.
We decide to pay Sarobetsu wetland another visit. It is free and a good place to stretch the legs.
This time there are more flowers in bloom and there are more flowers. The whole area more colourful, well, yellow, white and blue, than on our previous visit.
We were hoping to see a Latham’s Snipe performing its powerful aerial display again, but it was not to be.
Moving on, towards Asahikawa, down scenic Route 40, another deer considers crossing the road in front of us. As I hit the brakes, it decides against suicide and breaks back into the undergrowth.
We follow Route 40 to Nakagawa michi no eki where we see a traveller, whom we had noticed on the ferry to Wakkanai and again at Wakkanai station. As he was hitchhiking, we picked him up. (A hippy always pays his debts.) We delivered him to a campsite at Kaguraoka Koen near Asahikawa Station. He was a Spanish chef in a Henro hat, returning to his job at a Hakuba ski resort in Nagano pref.
Kitakitsune at Route 275
At Bifuka, before we lost our Spanish chef, we abandoned route 40 and took Route 275 as more scenic. On this road a Northern Fox (Kitakitsune) slipped out of the undergrowth onto the road. I slowed to a crawl to pass it, and once it had watched us by, it proceeded to follow us down the road. I stopped and it continued to approach, carrying something in its jaws, pausing only to cock its leg, (a little boy fox!). It came right up to the, now stationary, car and trotted past.
Our hitchhiker took a lot of splendid pictures from the back window. His lucky day. My camera was stowed under a seat somewhere. Bur D. snapped a picture with the tablet.
Higashikawa michi no eki
Finally, we take Route 12 into Asahikawa and, after visiting a supermarket and dropping our hitchhiker, we head for Century 21 Forest campsite. This is a great place where we have stayed before, but we realize that you must check in before 5pm. Now it is well after 6pm, so as an alternative we make for Higashikawa michi no eki.
This is an odd place. The car park is in front of the Mont Bell store next door to the michi no eki building. In front of the michi no eki itself is a busy bus stop. It is late after a long drive – it will have to do. On the plus side it is convenient for Asahidake where we are headed next.
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.