Trip Report

Southern Hokkaido Cycle Tour Day 2 – Setana to Okushiri Island

Posted on Sep 21, 2016
62 0

Posted on Sep 21, 2016

In 1993, one of the most powerful tsunami in modern history hit Okushiri Island. Just 5 minutes after a powerful magnitude 7.7 earthquake, the 30m high 500km/h wave destroyed much of the north, west, and south areas of the island. We weren’t fully aware of the magnitude of that event when we arrived on Okushiri Island by ferry. We certainly didn’t expect that our campground for the night would be just a few meters away from one of the more sombre reminders of Okushiri’s tragic past.

Last updated Oct 14, 2018

The day started early for us. Mainly because we wanted to catch the sunrise from the Setana campground, where we were staying. This campground is up on a high headland with a three-story viewing platform, so gives amazing views across the Japan Sea coast. It was definitely worth the early start.

Southern Hokkaido Cycle Tour Day 3

Southern Hokkaido Cycle Tour Day 2

Only half an hour or so after sunrise, the land had transformed into a colorful, bright, and warm day.

[lgc_column grid=”50″ tablet_grid=”50″ mobile_grid=”50″ last=”false” style=”padding-left:0px;”]Southern Hokkaido Cycle Tour Day 2[/lgc_column][lgc_column grid=”50″ tablet_grid=”50″ mobile_grid=”50″ last=”true” style=”padding-right:0px;”]sept2016-128[/lgc_column]

Our ferry to Okushiri Island didn’t leave until around 1pm, so we spent the morning hanging around town and buying up around three days worth of food. We knew that once on Okushiri Island, there would be fewer stores around. And we were planning to stay on Okushiri Island, despite it only being around 60km circumference in total. This would mean spending some time in one place; possibly a day or so in one location with little access to shops or restaurants.

On the ferry over to Okushiri Island, we would end up sharing the ferry with a large group of Japan Self Defence Force personnel. The Japan Air Self Defense Force has a base on Okushiri, and it looked like they were taking over supplies and vehicles.

[lgc_column grid=”50″ tablet_grid=”50″ mobile_grid=”50″ last=”false”]Southern Hokkaido Cycle Tour Day 2[/lgc_column][lgc_column grid=”50″ tablet_grid=”50″ mobile_grid=”50″ last=”true”]Southern Hokkaido Cycle Tour Day 2[/lgc_column]

Southern Hokkaido Cycle Tour Day 2

Once on Okushiri, we made a beeline for the northern cape. We knew we only had a few hours of daylight left, and wanted to get there before dark. First impressions of this sleepy island were mainly of the civil engineering on the island. More so than the mainland, there seemed to be much more hillside strengthening works going on.

Southern Hokkaido Cycle Tour Day 2

For such a small island, this seemed odd. But only until we were reminded at the northern cape about what had happened here in 1993. It almost seems like the island was being used as a case study of how to reinforce an entire island against natural disaster.

Once at the campground, we pitched the tent behind a large mound of grassy dirt, to keep out of the strong northerly wind that was blowing. It felt like a rather desolate spot.

Southern Hokkaido Cycle Tour Day 2

This feeling of desolation was accentuated by the fact that the campsite was right next to the northern cape, home to a massive area scattered with rock piles. The place felt cathartic. Somewhere where your thoughts and pain and anger would be drowned out by the perpetual wind in your ears and the sounds of crashing waves. A place you could just focus on the simple task of piling up some rocks. By the looks of things there was no shortage of people who had done just that.

Southern Hokkaido Cycle Tour Day 3

Southern Hokkaido Cycle Tour Day 3

Day 2 Route Map

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

Download may take some time

Hokkaido Wilds Foundation

We’ve got affiliate links on 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


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 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 with your suggestions.

Southern Hokkaido Cycle Tour Day 2 – Setana to Okushiri Island Difficulty Rating





Vertical Gain



Time ascending













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.