Trip Report

HOKKAIDO (Mini-tour Day 4): Kamoenai to Yumoto Onsen

Posted on Aug 8, 2011
Share on facebook
Share on reddit
Share on twitter
Share on google
0

Posted on Aug 8, 2011

Share on facebook
Share on reddit
Share on twitter
Share on google
Reading time: 4 min

Once again we were up at daybreak today, just like yesterday; 4:15am and keen to get on the road to beat the heat. As usual, however, we started the day with breakfast and some decent coffee.

Last updated Oct 12, 2018

Camping at the Kamoenai Camping Ground on the Shakotan Peninsula, Hokkaido, Japan

Camping at the Kamoenai Camping Ground on the Shakotan Peninsula, Hokkaido, Japan

The coast along this portion of the Shakotan coast was perhaps the most spectacular. A beautiful new road, spanning gorges with bridges, cut its way around the precipitous cliffs, with small bays here and there bathed in the morning light.

Cycle touring around the Shakotan Peninsula in Hokkaido, Japan

Cycling on the coast of Shakotan Peninsula near Tomari, Hokkaido, Japan Cycling on the coast of Shakotan Peninsula near Tomari, Hokkaido, Japan

Iwanai City was where we left the coast for good. The scenery on the coast had been improving the last few days, but we were glad to leave the coast for more cooler higher altitudes and greener scenery. We arrived in Iwanai at around 9 o’clock, so we hung around the city park for the best part of an hour, lounging in the shade of trees, and eating ice-creams. Rowland and Alicia were especially fond of the vast selection of ice-creams available in convenience stores here in Japan, most at at least half the price of ice-creams in New Zealand.

We stocked up on food in Iwanai before taking on the climb up to Naganuma, a pass which would connect us with the Niseko region in Hokkaido; a popular winter resort town. Perhaps we underestimated the climb. It was a killer. The lower regions were quite manageable, but things got much tougher the higher we went.

Steep climb up to Naganuma near Niseko, Hokkaido, Japan

It was not so much the gradient which killed us. It was the heat. With little shade, we all quickly ran out of water. After almost three hours of slogging uphill (and me quite convinced that single-speed touring is not entirely practical), Rowland (who was powering ahead) came across a delicious waterfall. We needed no encouragement to indulge in its cool watery delights.

Cooling off during a steep climb up to Naganuma near Niseko, Hokkaido, Japan

Cooling off during a steep climb up to Naganuma near Niseko, Hokkaido, Japan

This revived us for the somewhat anti-climactic remaining 900m along the road to the top of the pass, where we scoffed down water and a selection of sweet local snacks. They did not last long. On the left are sweet bean paste (azuki)-filled donut balls, and on the right is a chestnut flavoured azuki cake.

Snacks near Naganuma Lake near Niseko, Hokkaido, Japan

Somehow, we managed to find the energy for a 40 minute return walk from the road-pass to a small mountain lake, Naganuma Lake.

Naganuma Lake, Hokkaido, Japan

Naganuma Lake near Niseko, Hokkaido, Japan Naganuma Lake near Niseko, Hokkaido, Japan

Hokkaido is home to a variety of wildlife, including brown bears (higuma in Japanese). Brown bears are not common, but we did see a curious fox on our way over the last 200m or so along the road to the actual pass summit. This fox was not particularly afraid of humans, a sure sign of foxes being fed by tourists in their cars. Haidee mentioned that foxes can be a real nuisance in the Niseko area (she used to work around this area), actually running towards approaching cars expecting food, and being injured as a result.

Wildlife protection sign near Niseko, Hokkaido, Japan

A fox on the road near Niseko, Hokkaido, Japan A fox on the road near Niseko, Hokkaido, Japan

A fox on the road near Niseko, Hokkaido, Japan

The final 10km or so today was pure bliss. A blisteringly fast downhill to our campsite next to the Yunomoto Onsen (Japanese spa).

Downhill to Niseko Town, Hokkaido, Japan

Rowland braved the cultural barrier and came for a soak in the onsen with me. For the uninitiated, this can be a daunting ask. The spas are separate-gender, but everyone is naked. You strip off in the changing room, wash down in the communal wash area, and soak in the scalding natural hot springs. Yunomoto Onsen is a particularly good onsen however. It has numerous outdoor rotenburo (outdoor spas) with great views over the surrounding valleys.

We arrived at the campsite (a free campsite run by the local council) relatively early (around 2pm), so we had plenty of time to relax and cook dinner. Rowland has borrowed my copy of Walking the Amazon (which I have not read yet), and has taken every opportunity available to keep working at devouring the book before they leave in a week’s time.

Camping in Chisenupuri, Hokkaido, Japan

Camping in Chisenupuri, Hokkaido, Japan Camping in Chisenupuri, Hokkaido, Japan

Comments | Queries | Discussion

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

See More Like this

Hokkaido Wilds Foundation

We’ve got affiliate links on HokkaidoWilds.org to help fund the Hokkaido Wilds foundation.

The Foundation gets a small commission on sales from affiliate links, but we only link to stuff we think is worth checking out for people keen on the outdoors in Hokkaido and Japan.

The Hokkaido Wilds Foundation is a fund where 100% of funds are donated to Hokkaido volunteer groups involved in sustainable, safe, and responsible access to the Hokkaido outdoors.

Learn more here

ADVANCED FILTERS

Filter by location

About Filters

REGION: The general mountain/geographical region the route is in.

BEST MONTH(S): Time of year a route is suited to visiting. Some pop all season, some are more limited.

DIFFICULTY: How strenuous a route is, and how technical it is. Full details here.

FREERIDE/SKITOUR: Very subjective, but is a route more-of-a-walk-than-a-ski or the other way around? Some routes are all about the screaming downhill (freeride), some are more about the hunt for a peak or nice forest (ski-tour). Some are in between. 

MAIN ASPECT: Which cardinal direction the primary consequential slope is facing, that you might encounter on the route. More details here.

ROUTE TAGS: An eclectic picking of other categories that routes might belong to.

SEARCH BY LOCATION: You can find routes near your current location – just click on the crosshairs (). You may need to give permission to HokkaidoWilds.org to know your GPS location (don’t worry, we won’t track you). Or, type in a destination, such as Niseko or Sapporo or Asahikawa etc.

Please let us know how we can make it easier to narrow down your search. Contact Rob at [email protected] with your suggestions.

HOKKAIDO (Mini-tour Day 4): Kamoenai to Yumoto Onsen 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.