Southwestern Hokkaido Getaway

Posted on Oct 12, 2018
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Posted on Oct 12, 2018

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Reading time: 2 min
230km

Distance

4 days

Time

3145m

Ascent

785m

Highest point

3/10

Difficulty

90%

Paved

NOTE: It appears that the gravel road across the pass from Setana to Shimamaki may be impassible due to nature retaking the road (overgrown, landslides etc., see Phil’s comment on Day 3’s blog post). The alternative is the beautiful stretch of coastal road to the west.
This is a 230km cycle tour along the west coast of the Oshima Peninsula at the southern end of Hokkaido. The Japan Sea coast along the western side of this peninsula is rugged and drop-dead gorgeous. Think ultra-clear water, rocky outcrops, and big views. Take the coast the whole way round to Shimamaki, or head inland over the closed gravel road to get properly off the beaten track. The route starts and finishes at JR train stations with direct train services to Sapporo City. This makes it a nice route for a few nights' getaway from the big city.

Last updated Jun 3, 2019

Route Map

Route Overview

Just like in 2013 and 2014, Haidee and I spent 2015’s Golden Week holidays (a string of back-to-back public holidays in Japan) to explore a little bit more of Hokkaido, Japan’s large northern-most island. This year, Dirk joined in on the fun too. Unlike previous years however, in order to take in vistas further afield we jumped on a train with our bikes and started the five day tour at Onuma Lake Park; some 275km or so southwest of Sapporo.

The plan was to cycle back towards Sapporo, following more or less the Japan Sea coast of southwestern Hokkaido. We wouldn’t cycle the full distance back to Chitose however (we now live in Chitose). The plan was to head to Niseko, and then hoof it back to Chitose by train.

All in all, the trip was a great success: the gravel road route I had scouted out ended up being snowed under (which allowed for my first ever experience of having to turn back during a cycle tour); we saw raging rivers; placid seas; roaring seas; had gusting 40km/h tailwinds; and great company along the way.

  • Getting there: There are a couple of main Japan Rail train lines that head from the top of the Oshima Peninsula to Sapporo. The Muroran trunk line goes via the Muroran coast and Tomakomai, and the Hakodate trunk line goes to Sapporo via Niseko and Otaru. This allows for a horseshoe loop tour from Onuma on the former to the sleepy town of Kuromatsunai on the latter, via the gorgeous Japan Sea coast on the western side of the Oshima Peninsula.

Daily Route notes

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Southwestern Hokkaido Getaway 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.