Far East Trans-Hokkaido (Nemuro to Sapporo)

Posted on Oct 9, 2018
26 30

Posted on Oct 9, 2018

26 30


15 days





Highest point





Cycling across Hokkaido from Nemuro to Sapporo allows the full gammut of quintessential Hokkaido power spots. The Kiritappu Cape and the Kushiro wetlands. The endless gorgeous farmlands of the Tokachi region. The towering Nissho Pass and taking refuge from the trucks in the diminutive mountain town of Hidaka. Then on through melon-producing Yubari and on to Sapporo.

Last updated Aug 8, 2023

Route Map

Route Overview

This trans-Hokkaido route is arguably one of the more varied that we’ve done across this vast island. You’ll see beautiful coastlands and capes, low-lying wetlands and wildlife, expansive and beautiful agricultural plains, and a fair dose of mountainous terrain thrown in there too. Like most cycle trips in Hokkaido, there’ll be an onsen hotspring soak at the end of most days, usually within about 2km of the campground.

If this route was combined with the Shiretoko Loop Tour, it would, possibly, make the ultimate Hokkaido cycle tour. Add in the Shakotan Peninsula and Niseko Hills plus the Hokkaido Deep South Tour, and, well. There’d not be much more you’d need to see in this life time.

Daily distances are fairly short on this two-week cycle touring route across Hokkaido from Nemuro to Sapporo. Stronger riders on a tighter schedule could easily merge multiple days into one.

  • Nissho Pass (1,022m): This towering pass on National Highway 274 is a trunk arterial route for a contintual stream of heavy trucks transporting all that gorgeous Hokkaido produce from Japan’s vege basket that is the Tokachi Plains to Tomakomai Port. Take a more northern route via the Karikachi Pass (644m) and Shimupakku (National Highway 38) if that doesn’t sound like your cup of tea.
  • Getting there and away from Nemuro: Express trains run from Sapporo to Kushiro City daily. From Kushiro City there’s a transfer to a “one-man” local train that will take you the rest of the way to the end of the line in Nemuro City.

Daily Route notes

Comments | Queries | Reports

Done this route or parts of it? Thinking of doing it? Please post any feedback or queries here. Thanks!

30 thoughts on “Far East Trans-Hokkaido (Nemuro to Sapporo)”

  1. Hey, I’m planning to do this route and wanted to ask, how is it in point of power on this rout or on the routes in general. Can you charge your devices on these trails? On the campgrounds? Or do you need do carry a bunch of power banks? Because I need my phone for navigation and I want to be prepared 🙂 And thanks a lot for the ressources, I’m really excited to be doing your route!

    Thanks for everything,

    1. Hey Kilian, yes, there are charging points in campgrounds, but sometimes you need to get creative – some of the power outlets are under toilet sinks etc! So, take a power bank and use sockets to charge it, rather than having to leave your phone unattended.

  2. Hi Rob,
    Thanks a lot for your inspirational itineraries! We are looking forward to test for real. On that itinerary, you used the closed road 610 between Hobetsfukuyama and Niniu Campground. Do you know if the road is still closed or still ridable?
    Best regards, Edgar

  3. Hi Rob,
    I wonder if you hav any thoughts …
    We are landing in Sapporo on 6th July and departuring 31st of July. And currently deciding how to play it, so just over three weeks at hokaido. the far East trans route appeals the most to us as we did fair bit of coastal cycling at Shikoku, kjushu and Korea. However we have got full size bikes with racks on and havent got any experience with trains at all in Japan. Apart from once when We tried, took handle bar and front wheel off and wraped it all in black massive cling film and witj tape – and we were turned away by train staff.

    So considering
    Option no 1 would be to cycle straight from new shitose airport to the fa east – but idea of not being able to get back by train to Sapporo scares me. Looking for a bike box in nemuro etc. As Bike with rack doesn’t fit in bag.

    Option number two would be to go from the airport straight to Sapporo station and squat one night somewhere with bike being packed in a box after flight and catch Early morning JR to kushiro and then nemuro.

    Option no 3: a bus? There seems to be over night bus from Sapporo to nemuro according to Google for 8200yen? Which would mean no need to pack a bike just put in a trunk.

    Any thoughts/suggestions on logistics would be appreciated. Thanks a lot in advance and your effort put in this web!


  4. Hi Rob – we plan to do this trip this coming June on our Brompton’s; do you know if there are ‘lockers’ at the airport where we could leave our Brompton travel bags so that we could ride straight from/to the airport?

    1. Hey Mark, apologies for the late reply. Coin lockers at New Chitose Airport have a max 3-day storage period, so your best bet is to leave them at the Temporary Luggage Storage (https://www.new-chitose-airport.jp/en/service/baggage/baggage_checkroom/). Small-size baggage (length + width + depth = 120cm total) is 310 yen per 24hrs. The ‘Medium’ size is between 120cm and 200cm (530yen per 24hrs). Another option would be to book the same accommodation in Chitose City (or elsewhere near the airport) for your arrival night and night before leaving – they’ll hold onto those bags for sure. Hope this helps!

  5. It looks like you took your bikes on the train fully packed and ready to go. Do you have to arrange bike carriage in advance? Or are there other special arrangements you need to make?

  6. Hi Rob and Team,
    We will be riding the Transhokkaido Tour from east to west in the coming week. We considered running from Honbetsu northwards through the Daisetsuzan national park, Asahikaya, and then back toward the south again to meet the original route (instead of crossing inland through Shimukappu-Mura on a more straight line). Any thoughts on that?
    How is the current situation with bears? Have you heard any recent stories with bears becoming less shy in times of COVID with less people/tourists being around?

    Thank you!

  7. I’d like to do this itinerary in 2022, together with some of the other Hokkaido routes – say, a month-long ride. May I ask why you decided to travel to Nemuro, and then ride westward to Sapporo (instead of the reverse) ? Apologies if I missed the explanation somewhere.

    1. Hi Wentian, sorry for the late reply! The only reason at the time we chose to do the ride east to west was that it felt psychologically nicer to be ‘cycling home’ to Sapporo. As far as prevailing winds are concerned, you might find more tailwinds going from west to east, as the favourable winds in summer generally blow from the southwest. I hope this helps!

  8. Wouhou ! That’s so nice to read, the coincidence makes me really happy and I hope you had (or are still having) a good canoe trip research! Actually, even just now I stumbled upon your warmshowers profile (coming to Sapporo soon). Thanks again for your amazing website and your inspiring stories and achievements! Best, Melanie

  9. Hi Rob & Haidee,
    FYI – the Memurocho Arashiyama Auto Camp Ground is still out of action. The place was overgrown with weeds and looked pretty much abandoned when I was there in early August. The river bank next to the campground makes a great alternative, secluded stealth camp spot.
    Thanks so much Rob and Haidee for all your efforts on this wonderful website. My go to source of info when planning my cycle trip to Hokkaido and no doubt will be again when I come back next year. What a beautiful place and wonderful people.

    1. Hi team – there is so much love and energy in this site, fantastic! I am thinking of doing this trip on a road bike in early October, looking at maybe 5 days. May cut some parts out to make it a bit shorter..
      Question for you who have done it: is the road ok for road bikes (25mm tires, not as robust as your bikes I saw on the photos) or the roads too rough, too many potholes, etc?
      Thank you in advance for your response,

      1. Thomas, you’ll be absolutely fine on a road bike. Our fat tires were waaaaaay overkill for this route. If you’re accustomed to doing 100km+ days, then I’d be confident doing this trip in 5 days full riding. For reference, I did the Abashiri to Sapporo route (https://hokkaidowilds.org/cycle-touring/abashiri-to-sapporo-trans-hokkaido), which is further by distance, in 4 days, on a heavy 29+ bike. Please take a look at Day 7 though – we did some gravel riding on that day which would be very tiring on a road bike (I certainly wouldn’t bother attempting it). On a road bike I’d cut south to the coast and rejoin the route from the Day 8 campground. We also did a very small amount of gravel riding on Day 10, but not so much that you’d struggle on a road bike – I’d be happy to do Day 10 on a road bike.

        1. Amazing, super helpful answer. I am tailoring the route right now, cant promise to not have more questions later 🙂 THANK YOU!

          1. And just to clarify… you would recommend to basically cut out Day 7 to avoid gravel, or cut out Day 7 AND 8 to avoid gravel? Just trying to see between which cities I should try to ride along the coast… Thank you!

  10. Just wanted to post some encouraging words on here from someone who rode this in June – we had a brilliant time and a highlight of our 5000km across Japan.
    We rode this route straight from the airport, missed out going right to the end of the Island and instead headed up north along the coast to combine it with the Shiretoko Loop. I think it took us 15 days, with a rest day at Notsuke peninsula, one at Utoro and a rest day riding around Lake Kussharo area. I would recommend cutting inland and exploring this incredible volcanic area, instead of going along the coast – which looked rather dull (but fast).
    We did see a bear on a walk, and camped at a site that had had a bear on the day before (which they shot..) and talked to a couple who saw a bear from the road whilst riding the coast on the Shiretoko loop, so be aware.
    I think if I was to ride this again, I would hire bear spray, as a bell and loud singing (which we did in earnest!) can only do so much. Just my feelings, as a first time traveller in bear country. We didn’t ride on gravel due to taking road bikes, but detours were easy to find and pretty quiet, using MAPS.ME.

    1. I’m really glad you enjoyed your time on the route, Nick! Really encouraging to get feedback like this 🙂 Very exciting that you got to see a bear – glad the encounter ended amicably.

      1. Thanks so much for all your efforts in publicising the Island, it’s truly and amazing place and your routes are superb! Already working out a winter trip…

      2. Dear Haidee and Rob,
        Here’s a message to thank you for the routes and inspiration you put in Hokkaidowilds. It’s been a great ressource and I’m loving my time in Hokkaido, partly thanks to you! Also, I’m pretty sure I was staying at the same campsite as you were yesterday (near Abashiri), wondered why your faces seemed familiar until it hit me today on the bicycle. Was it you?


        1. Hey Melanie, yes we were! We had wondered how far you were cycling. Looks like you are doing a big trip here in Japan. Good on you. Glad the site has been useful. Haidee and I are out east for two weeks, documenting a whole bunch of canoe routes out this way. Tailwinds to you!

          1. Wouhou ! That’s so nice to read, the coincidence makes me really happy and I hope you had (or are still having) a good canoe trip research! Actually, even just now I stumbled upon your warmshowers profile (coming to Sapporo soon). Thanks again for your amazing website and your inspiring stories and achievements! Best, Melanie

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Far East Trans-Hokkaido (Nemuro to Sapporo) Difficulty Rating





Vertical Gain



Time ascending













GRADES range from A (very difficult) to D (easy). Hazards include exposure to avalanche and fall risk. More details here. Rating rubric adapted from Hokkaido Yukiyama Guidebook 北海道雪山ガイド.