Goose-watching Cycle Tour to Miyajima Pond

Posted on May 11, 2017
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Posted on May 11, 2017

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5 days





Highest point





In late-April and early-May, thousands upon thousands of migratory geese make a stop-off at Miyajima Pond at the western reaches of Bibai City, just 50km northeast of Sapporo City. This happens to be around the time of the Golden-Week public holidays in Japan. This makes for a perfect excuse for an uber-extended weekend cycle tour of up to four or five days. The weather can be very changeable at this time of the year – in 2013 we did a similar trip out this way, and had rain almost every day. During the trip this year, we had scorchingly hot weather. But if you manage to catch the geese at the peak of their population, it can be a spectacular sight.

Last updated May 13, 2020

Route Map

Route Overview

Here, I outline a 5-day, leisurely bicycle touring route around the Iwamizawa-plains area northeast of Sapporo City in Hokkaido, Japan. The route starts and ends in central Sapporo – there’s no need to take public transport on this trip. While the main draw of this route is the migratory geese at Miyajima Pond – only there during the end of April and start of May – the trip can be enjoyed year-round (so long as you have proper snow-cycling gear in the winter). You’ll experience some of the classic topography of the relatively developed area to the northeast of Sapporo – home to intensive agriculture, rivers, and sleepy traffic-free side roads. The route could easily be shortened to be completed in a three-day weekend, or even just an overnighter if just visiting the pond.

Daily Route notes

Distance: 45km | Ascent: 340m | Paved: 100% | ↓ GPX file

The best way to get out of Sapporo to the southeast is by and far the Shiroishi Cycling road. Day 1 takes this route via Kita-Hiroshima City, and meanders across the Naganuma Plains before ending at the well-kept Yuni Campground. The Yuni Onsen is a 2km ride away from the campsite, but is absolutely worth the effort of going. It is a tanin-soaked onsen, and they have really great-value meals there too. If you can’t be bothered cooking, then it is very well worth eating there!

Onsen: Yuni Spa Hotel (ユンニの湯) | 650yen | 2.5km from accommodation

Cycle touring to Miyajima Pond for birdwatching in Hokkaido

Distance: 54km | Ascent: 166m | Paved: 100% | ↓ GPX file

This is quintessential Sapporo-area rural scenery. Relatively small-scale agriculture, and hopelessly quiet roads. On a clear day you’ll be able to see the Yubari mountain range in the distance. Towards the end of the day the route crosses the mighty Ishikari River. Shinotsu Park is a great place for a rest – although bring your own shade on a sunny day – this new park has yet to grow its trees tall.

Onsen: Tsukigata Yurikago Onsen (月形温泉ゆりかご) | 500yen | 0.5km from accommodation

Cycle touring to Miyajima Pond for birdwatching in Hokkaido

Distance: 68km | Ascent: 680m | Paved: 100% | ↓ GPX file

Miyajima Pond at daybreak in late April is the center-piece of this route. Get there at the right time of day at the right time of the year, and you’ll be treated to the amazing natural phenomenon of thousands of migratory geese stopping over on their way north to Siberia. The rest of the route from Tukigata to Akabira skirts the plains to the west, and climbs up and over the Utashinai Pass via a great cycling road along the valley floor. The campground at Elm Kogen has a beautiful view out over the valley below.

Cycle touring to Miyajima Pond for birdwatching in Hokkaido

Distance: 66km | Ascent: 700m | Paved: 100% | ↓ GPX file

I have somewhat of a love-hate relationship with Route 452 along the back side of the mountain range to the east of the Iwamizawa Plains. I love it because it is remote. Expect no shops, convenience stores, or even vending machines for a good solid 40km. And it has the beautiful San-dan Falls too. But it can be a brutal ride – two out of three times I have ridden it it has been in torrential rain. It is potholed….but still it is a great way to avoid the busy roads on the plains to the west. It is a route you’ll grow to love.

Onsen: Yu-no-Moto Onsen (湯の元温泉旅館) | 500yen | 2.5km from accommodation

Cycle touring to Miyajima Pond for birdwatching in Hokkaido

Distance: 75km | Ascent: 430m | Paved: 100% | ↓ GPX file

The last day of a Sapporo-out-and-back cycle tour can be either a beautiful roll through lovely flat farmland, or a pedal-smashing endurance test depending on the weather and wind direction. On this particular trip for us, we had the latter. But don’t let that put you off – the Nopporo Forest Park is always an oasis of calm and green, just before you re-join with the Shiroishi Cycling Road back into central Sapporo City. Photo below by Adam Szabo.

Accommodation: – (-)

Onsen: None

Cycle touring to Miyajima Pond for birdwatching in Hokkaido

As with each ski touring, cycle touring, and hiking route guide published on, 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., 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.

hokkaidowilds.orgに掲載されるすべてのスキールート、自転車ツーリングルート、ハイキングルートと同様に、本ページに掲載される情報を利用し行動する場合、必ず自己責任で利用することを条件とします。出発する前に現地の天候や状況、通行止め情報などを確認しましょう。行動中は、公有地/私有地に関係なく必ず現地の利用条件を守るようにし、適切な安全装置や、コンパスや地図などのナビゲーション道具を身に着けてください。いうまでもありませんが、自然に与える人間の影響を少なくし、ゴミの持ち帰りをはじめ環境を傷をつけない(Leave No Trace)ようなアウトドア行動にしましょう。本サイトに掲載される情報はあくまで計画を立てるための一つの情報源に過ぎなく、行為者の先んじて払ってしかるべき正当な注意義務及び努力と合わせて利用することを条件とします。本ページのGPSトラック(GPXとKMLと地図)を含む情報は提供者のできる限り正確な調べにより提供しているものの、その情報の正確性や、提供者の行動判断は、hokkaidowilds.orgは一切の責任を負いかねなく保証できません。また、本ページに掲載される情報を利用することによるいかなる怪我、器物損壊等、その他事件 ・事故等においてhokkaidowilds.orgや本サイトの関係者は一切の責任を負いかねます。

Comments | Queries | Reports

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

2 thoughts on “Goose-watching Cycle Tour to Miyajima Pond”

  1. Great post as usual, Rob. Thanks for sharing!

    It’s weird being finally home and then reading about yet another one of your adventures. It feels like I should still be living on the road!

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