Far East Trans-Hokkaido (Nemuro to Sapporo)

Posted on Oct 9, 2018
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Posted on Oct 9, 2018

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26 15
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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 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

Distance: 24km | Ascent: 150m | Paved: 100% | ↓ GPX file

We chose to do this trip from east to west. This required a train trip from Sapporo City to Nemuro at the eastern reaches of Hokkaido. There are direct express trains from Sapporo to Kushiro, running daily (check Google). From Kushiro you’ll be on one of those super quaint ‘one-man’ trains to Nemuro. Total train time is about 7 hours. Get on the earliest train you can, and you’ll be in Nemuro in time to cycle to the tip of Cape Nosappu (the eastern-most point of Japan) to camp there for the night.

Onsen: None

Taking bicycles on a train in Sapporo Station, Hokkaido, Japan_15078811635_l

Distance: 76km | Ascent: 680m | Paved: 100% | ↓ GPX file

Today’s highlights include sun-dried kelp, big empty roads, coastal views, and a cow-shaped campground. Quite literally, this is the campground you’ll be staying at (Google Maps satellite view). It would have been perfectly reasonable to carry on to the campground at Cape Kiritappu, but we were keen to have the time tomorrow to explore the Kiritappu Wetlands (霧多布湿原).

Also note in the blog posts we opted for an extra night in Nemuro, since Haidee was doing some distance learning at the time. She had a supervisor’s meeting, so we stayed in Nemuro at a hotel. So the blog posts for ‘today’ are the following:

Accommodation: Mootto Kazete Campground (MO−TTOかぜて) | 324 yen per tent

Onsen: None

Drying kelp at Cape Nosappu, Hokkaido, Japan_14899826459_l

Distance: 13km | Ascent: 68m | Paved: 100% | ↓ GPX file

If you’re into birds, the Kiritappu Wetlands is a worthwhile place to visit. There’s an information center up on the hill a little ways inland (here). It has massive panoramic views over the wetlands. It also happens to have a very reasonably priced curry lunch set.

Onsen: Kiritappu Onsen Yuyu (霧多布温泉ゆうゆ) | 500yen | 2.6km from accommodation

Cool and quiet forest along the coast near Konbumori, Hokkaido,_14904449919_l

Distance: 40km | Ascent: 400m | Paved: 100% | ↓ GPX file

Hopelessly empty roads. Oysters upon oysters. If you find yourself in the area in the second week of October (and you like oysters) then you’ll be in heaven – they have an annual oyster festival here. I had to make do with fried oysters on top of a massive pork bowl.

Today’s campground is about 5km from the nearest baths (Kiraku-yu, here), but the campground also has hot showers for 320yen a person.

Accommodation: Chikushikoi Camping Ground (筑紫恋キャンプ場) | 210 yen per tent

Onsen: Kiraku-yu (喜楽湯) | 440yen | 5km from accommodation

On route 123 approaching Akkeshi, Hokkaido, Japan_14966622097_l

Distance: 55km | Ascent: 400m | Paved: 100% | ↓ GPX file

Brace yourself for a full dose of colonial Hokkaido history towards the end of today. There’s the Lake Toro Historical Museum (here) next to Lake Toro; worth a visit.

Onsen: Ikoi-no-Ie Kayanuma Hotspring (憩いの家かや沼) | 450yen | 0.1km from accommodation

Lake Toro, Hokkaido, Japan_14968737658_l

Distance: 60km | Ascent: 650m | Paved: 90% | ↓ GPX file

The Kushiro Wetlands were the main reason we conceived of this route across Hokkaido in the first place. The Japan-Guide.com does a better job at explaining about the place, but it is Japan’s larges wetland, designated as a national park in 1987. The route for today cuts across the wetlands on a short section of gravel road. There’s a lookout near the end of this gravel road. The campground for today is just over the road from the Akan red-crested crane sanctuary and michi-no-eki, so there’s plenty of information-absorbing to be had.

It is also a great place for a day off the bikes (as we did).

Onsen: Tancho-no-Sato Onsen (丹頂の里温泉) | 500yen | 0.8km from accommodation

Kushiro Shitsugen National Park (Hokkaido, Japan)_15138277776_l

Distance: 80km | Ascent: 1200m | Paved: 75% | ↓ GPX file

Today will get your gravel fix for the trip, with about 25km in total of rindo (forestry roads) across two low-lying forested ridges. The gravel is in good condition for the most part, but can be steep and rough nearer the passes. If you’d prefer not to cycle on gravel, then it is a solid 20km detour down to the coast; the gravel roads option is somewhat of a masochistic shortcut.

UPDATE (2017/7/30): There were reports of a number of trees downed across the route as well as washouts on these roads (see CyclingAbbout’s report on Youtube here).

Upon arriving in Honbetsu, you may want to head to the onsen before the campground, as it is a bit of a backtrack to get back to the onsen. There’s the big and beautiful Honbetsu Onsen across the river (here), which is the preferred option. Alternatively, there’s a little sento in town (here) that is less of a detour. EDIT (2018/10/11): The little sento in town is now closed.

Onsen: Honbetsu Onsen Grand Hotel (本別温泉グランドホテル) | 500yen | 4.5km from accommodation

Seeking gravel in Hokkaidoa forestry road connecting Route 222 and_15162192922_l

Distance: 76km | Ascent: 400m | Paved: 100% | ↓ GPX file

After a quick dash through the somewhat sprawling Obihiro City, today takes us across the Tokachi Region’s expansive agricultural plains. Wineries, local produce, and cool rows of white-barked birch. The whole region is hopelessly picturesque.

UPDATE (2018/10/11): The Arashiyama campground is currently closed for repairs due to damage from the 2016 typhoon. As an alternative, I doubt anyone would object to cyclists discretely setting up their tents next to the ski area, around here. From memory, that disused building has fairly large verandas would would be handy if it was raining.

Accommodation: Arashiyama Auto Camping Ground (芽室町嵐山オートキャンプ場) | 320 yen per tent | 540 yen per person

Onsen: Shin Arashiyama Lodge (国民宿舎 新嵐山荘) | 270yen | 0.7km from accommodation

Quiet country lanes in the Tokachi region, Hokkaido, Japan_14975985598_l

Distance: 80km | Ascent: 1200m | Paved: 100% | ↓ GPX file

Cycling over Nissho Pass will be memorable. Memorable mainly because you survived it, and finally made it to the glorious refuge of the sleepy mountain town of Hidaka. It is a main trunk route for trucks hauling Tokachi’s produce from the fertile plains around Obihiro to the port town of Tomakomai on Hokkaido’s southern coast.

As such, while the pass is a hill-climber’s paradise (from the Memuro Campground it is exactly 1,000m climb), it is not for everyone. The alternative for getting to Hidaka Town is a 300km detour around Cape Erimo to the south, or 120km detour across Karikachi Pass (644m) to the north. This is in comparison to the 1,000m climb and 80km direct route to Hidaka Town via the Nissho Pass. Ultimately it will come down to your tolerance for heavy traffic. On the whole it is fairly well behaved.

In any case, Hidaka is a gorgeous little town, with that surrounted-by-mountains feel. Good enough, in fact, to have a rest day at the very restful campground (rest day blog post here).

Accommodation: Hidaka Sarugawa Auto Camping Ground (日高沙流川オートキャンプ場) | 400 yen per tent | 100 yen per person

Onsen: Hidaka Kougenso Onsen (ひだか高原荘) | 500yen | 0.7km from accommodation

An idyllic campsite at the Sunagarekawa Auto-campground in Hidaka, Hokkaido,_14977983328_l

Distance: 50km | Ascent: 1050m | Paved: 95% | ↓ GPX file

After a lovely rest day in Hidaka, we carry on towards Sapporo, taking a detour via Shimukappu and Niniu. This route goes via a closed-to-general-traffic road. This route is slightly longer than the National Highway 274, but it is infintely more relaxing. There is a small amount of well-packed gravel on this section.

Accommodation: Hobetsu Campground (穂別キャンプ場) | 510 yen per tent

Onsen: Jukai Onsen Hakua (樹海温泉はくあ) | 520yen | 2.7km from accommodation

The closed road near Niniu Campground, Hokkaido, Japan_14977977548_l

Distance: 44km | Ascent: 380m | Paved: 100% | ↓ GPX file

Day 11 and Day 12 could conceivably be merged into one big day back to Sapporo, but the Yuni Campground and onsen up the road is a nice spot to stop before tackling the entrance into the big metropolis. Also, you’ll be passing through Yubari on Day 11, so make sure to stop at one of the melon stalls along the way.

Onsen: Yuni-no-Yu Onsen (ユニの湯) | 650yen | 2.5km from accommodation

A watery melon snack in Yubari, Hokkaido, Japan_15000799579_l

Distance: 50km | Ascent: 300m | Paved: 100% | ↓ GPX file

On the final day of the trip, we cycle across the Naganuma Plains to the beginning of the separated cycleway that will take you into Sapporo City (the Sapporo-Eniwa Cycling Road – full details here). There’s a nice bakery in Naganuma here.

Onsen: () | yen

Far East Trans-Hokkaido (Nemuro to Sapporo)

As with each ski touring, cycle touring, and hiking route guide published on hokkaidowilds.org, should you choose to follow the information on this page, do so at your own risk. Prior to setting out check current local weather, conditions, and land/road/track closures. While traveling, obey all public and private land use restrictions and rules, carry proper safety and navigational equipment, and of course, follow leave-no-trace procedures. The information found herein is simply a planning resource to be used as a point of inspiration in conjunction with your own due-diligence. In spite of the fact that this information, associated GPS track (GPX, KML and maps), and all information was prepared under diligent research by the specified contributor and/or contributors, the accuracy of such and judgement of the author is not guaranteed. hokkaidowilds.org, its partners, associates, and contributors are in no way liable for personal injury, damage to personal property, or any other such situation that might happen to individuals following the information contained in this post.

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Comments | Queries | Reports

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

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

  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

  2. 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!

  3. 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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