Posted on Jul 8, 2017
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Posted on Jul 8, 2017

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95 1
Reading time: 3 min
120km

Distance

2 days

Time

600m

Ascent

100m

Highest point

2/10

Difficulty

100%

Paved

NOTE: The Abira/Atsuma area was the epicenter of the largest earthquake in recorded Hokkaido history on September 2018 (magnitude 6.7 earthquake; level 7 on Japan’s 7-point intensity scale). As of October 2018, it is still unclear how much damage many of these orchards may have experienced.
The haskap berry is a tart, anti-oxidant-rich honeysuckle native throughout the cool temperate Northern Hemisphere. In Japan, Hokkaido is a prime growing location for this relatively rare berry, and in early July, the haskap berry orchards open their gates to day visitors. In Atsuma Town (厚真町) just east of Tomakomai, for 500yen you can wander the orchards and eat as many berries as you like – a great excuse for a weekend cycle-camping tour. This particular route guide is designed to make the most of train + bikes: first taking the train to the south coast, and cycling back to Sapporo from there via the haskap orchards.

Last updated Oct 26, 2018

Route Map

Need to know details

Location

Atsuma is a small farming town south of Sapporo City, about 30km east of Tomakomai. The route starts (or finishes) on the coast in the town of Mukawa, and heads north via Kuriyama and the Nannporo Plains on its way back to Sapporo. The route also passes through the beautiful Nopporo Forest Park on the eastern outskirts of Sapporo City.

General notes

Haskaap berries are eye-wateringly expensive if bought in stores. These delecate, sweet-but-tart berries are much cheaper, however, if you’re willing to sacrifice some time wandering around an orchard and picking them yourself. Many of the orchards are in out of the way places, however, so touring the area on a bike is an excellent way to pick and choose your location.

  • Haskap Season: Haskap berry season runs from the last week of June till the last week of July. Usually it is best to plan to do this trip around the end of the first or second week of July to ensure there are still berries around to pick.
  • Haskap picking: Atsuma Town, about 60km southeast of Sapporo, is one of the more well-known haskap producing towns in Hokkaido. Each year they publish the orchards that have their orchards open to the public (https://atsuma-kankoukyoukai.jp/hasmap.html). Generally you’ll pay around 500yen to enter an orchard, and any berries you want to take home will cost you around 1,000yen/kg, which is extremely reasonable compared with buying them in the stores around Sapporo.
  • Access to Mukawa Town on the south coast: As of July 2017, trains on the JR Nemuro Line only go as far as Mukawa Station, due to 2016 typhoon damage to the rails further along the coast. Taking a local train from Sapporo to Tomakomai, then Tomakomai to Mukawa, is the cheapest, most leisurely, and most stress-free option.

Route markers

Route Timing

This is a predominantly flat route, so distances are easily covered. The wind can howl along the Nanporo plains, however, so leave Kuriyama on the second day with plenty of time if it appears you’ll be cycling into the wind. If starting the route from Mukawa Town, consider arriving in Mukawa the night before you start. This will allow you to make the most of the next day’s time berry picking.

Physical maps

Explore the official Japan topomaps online for the area around Atsuma Town here. Follow these instructions to print out the area you would like as a hardcopy.

Route safety

Weather forecast

Windy.com weather forecast for Atsuma Town
Other resources
Do you know of any? Let us know in the comments.
Onsen nearby

About 2km from the Kuriyama Campground is the Kuriyama Onsen (天然温泉くりやま, here). This onsen has a decent outdoor bathing area, and is quite spacious inside too.

Show Full Route Notes Close Route Notes

Route Trip Notes

Last year, we’d done haskap berry picking in Atsuma Town (photos here), and signed up to one of the orchard’s notifications (one called Doi Farm – 土井ファーム) for when the berries would be ready again this year. As they promised, last week we received a letter in the mail telling us that the berries would be ready to pick around the beginning of July. So we arranged to make the most of a long-ish summer Friday evening by bundling our folding bikes onto a train after work, and heading down to the south coast of Hokkaido, to Mukawa Town, just east of Tomakomai. From there, we’d cycle to the closest campground (Onuma Campground – 大沼キャンプ場), and head to the orchard the next morning.

As chance would have it, we managed to choose a weekend that resembled a heatwave for Hokkaido. At 30deg C in the shade at 4pm, it was sweltering.

Because we were on a local train, we were able to get Mukawa JR Station with only one change at Tomakomai. For better or worse, the JR Nemuro Line is still closed past Mukawa Station due to last year’s typhoon damage (as of July 2017), so we were able to relax and just ride the train till it stopped.

From Mukawa Station, it is only a 10km bike ride to Oonuma Campground. We arrived at Mukawa Station at around 5:30pm, so we decided to have an onsen and meal at the Shiki-no-kaze hotel (here) before heading to the very basic campground. Make sure you have all the supplies you need for the overnight at the campground, because while it is a very lovely campground, it is in the middle of nowhere.

We ended up arriving after dark. We were warmly greeted by the rest of the group who had made their own way to the campground: Rick via train then bike from Numanohata Station, Sam on his bike all the way from Sapporo, and Kaydi and Ji-hoon by bike from Lake Shikotsu.

The next morning broke quiet and cool – a nice change from the previous day’s heat. It didn’t take long, however, for the sun to creep over the trees, and let us know that it would be another scorcher of a day. We all made the most of the trees, indulging in a nice long breakfast. The first mission of the day was a short 15km ride to the haskap orchards. I’ll let some of our photos from last year tell the story, since this year it appears I was too engrossed in the picking to take any photos!

Between us, Haidee and I managed to pick just under 1kg of berries this year. We delicately put them into leak-proof containers, knowing full well that they’d likely get damaged anyway, and turn to a half-mush by the time we got them home the next day.

From the orchard, Ji-hoon went his own way, and for the rest of us it was onwards, up hill and down-dale towards Kuriyama Town, our destination for the night.

We stopped in at the massive Kuriyama MaxValue supermarket for some dinner supplies, and then headed for the campground. Kuriyama Campground turned out to be a curious spot, with most of the official tent sites on far too much of a slope to be practical. So we camped in an adjacent part of the park next to a pagoda.

Just over the road from the MaxValue is an onsen, so we headed there after setting up the tents for a wash.

The ride back to Sapporo the next day was a fairly laid back affair, with a visit to the Nanporo icecream store…The Kuma-ichigo Cafe for lunch…And then finally a ride through Nopporo Forest Park back into the Sapporo urban sprawl.

Comments | Queries | Reports

Done this route up to Atsuma Town? Thinking of doing it? Please post any feedback or queries here. Thanks!

1 thought on “Haskap Berry-picking in Atsuma Town”

  1. Hello Friends. My Wife of 34 great years, was born in Hokkaido. Shiraoi’s Kitayoshiwada is wher she was raised and High Schooled in Tomakomai. We have a Daughter who has transplanted herself, married, and is now raising her own baby boy in Asahikawa, working for the City of Asahikawa as an LT. Our younger Daughter is very health connected and, finally getting to this site, LOVES HASKAP everything. Without any thoughts of hesitation, I’m preparing to take this Awesome Bike Tour, if not next year … the following. So thankful to have stumbled across this link while searching for “HASKAP Pancake Sirup”. My Brother-in-Law lives in Tomakomai, and this will be something I’d like he, his Wife, and two young adult children to join us for. To whomever created this site, “Great Job !”. Thank you so much … can’t wait to start planning. RS

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Haskap Berry-picking in Atsuma Town 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.