Far East Trans-Hokkaido (Nemuro to Sapporo)

Posted on Oct 9, 2018
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26 17

Posted on Oct 9, 2018

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26 17
Reading time: 8 min
635km

Distance

15 days

Time

7250m

Ascent

1030m

Highest point

5/10

Difficulty

98%

Paved

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 Jun 3, 2019

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!

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

  1. 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!

  2. 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

  3. 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.
    Cheers
    Glenn

    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,
      Thomas

      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!

  4. 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?

        Best,
        Melanie

        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

Category

Grade

Points

Strenuousness

Vertical Gain

D

25

Time ascending

D

0

Technicality

Altitude

D

0

Hazards

D

Navigation

D

Totals

25/100

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.