Yoichi Nikka Whisky Museum
Being a Monday, the space museum is closed so we opt for the Nikka Whisky factory/museum instead. This is, surprisingly, busy quite early in the morning. The popularity of the place is probably due to an NHK drama based on Taketsuru Masataka. And his Scottish wife Rita. Taketsuru is the father of Japanese whisky. By chance, we stumbled upon his birthplace (also popular) Takehara in Hiroshima on a previous trip.
I had expected to see a working factory as the Nikka Yoichi factory is operational, but the public viewing is confined to historical or replica buildings.
Hamanasu no Oka Koen ハマナスの丘公園
From Yoichi we move north again to Hamanasu no Oka Koen. Here, there is a wooden walkway across a sand spit between the sea and the mouth of the Ishikari River. It is famous for Hamanasu, a wild rose like flower. It was not overly impressive as the plants, though in bloom, were small and sparse. A lot of skylarks though.
From here we next stopped to look around Mashike. This small town has a few Meiji era building again showing the power and importance the herring fishery had on this coast.
Coast road michi no eki
We push on as our objective is Shosanbetsu some distance up the coast. The going is slow as the traffic is scrupulous about the speed limits in a way not noticeable in most parts of Japan. There are also many long tunnels and numerous abandoned dwellings in various stages of collapse. At one point we noted an entire hamlet of ruined houses.
On this coast R.232 there are two notable michi no eki. One is very new. A large, square, black building with extensive parking and excellent facilities,michi-no-eki Atsuta. Behind it on the hillside is the house where the guy who became the second person to run the Soka Gakkai movement was born.
The other excellent michi no eki is notable for a preserved building from the herring fishing industry, Obira Nishinbanya. This is a museum and worth a look around. It presents an insight into the living conditions of the herring fishermen.
We have never stayed at this michi no eki, but the faculties are very good.
Shosanbetsu, michi no eki, onsen and observatory
Eventually we reach Shosanbetsu and, after taking a bath at the michi no eki onsen, which I rather liked, we park up on the headland by the observatory. This is a good spot, with splendid sea views, where we have stayed before. There is a free campsite so cooking a hot meal is possible. However, shopping in this area is not so easy so carrying supplies is advisable.
＊misaki no yu onsen ; 500 yen / adult
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.