We had a leisurely start out of Asahikawa City, after spending the night in the JR Inn at the station. We’d had work till 5:30pm last evening, so we just jumped on a 7pm train to Asahikawa, arrived at 8:30pm, and stayed the night at the station. The hotel staff stored the bikes folded up in their storage room behind the check-in desk. JR Inn Asahikawa is literally right next to the train station (location). Our 13,500yen bill for the room included onsen and a big buffet breakfast.
Our route out of the city took us past Tokiwa Park, before we joined up with the Asahikawa-Sounkyo Cycleway along the Ishikari River. It was a very pleasant way to get out of this bustling city.
We were quite surprised at the amount of snow still hanging around on the sides of the road at this time of year. This was the furthest north we’d cycled in a Golden Week (a string of public holidays in early May in Japan). It was clear that spring comes later up here.
We arrived at the campground at around 4pm, just as a cold, light rain started to fall. We were impressed with the facilities at the campground. A nice center house with heaters, and plenty of covered areas. We’d later learn that they’d only just opened the campground for the season the day before. We were the first to use it this year. There was still snow on the campground stairs and other patches of grass were soggy and wet, so we pitched the tent in one of the car-camping spots near the center house. We didn’t intend to pay the 3,000yen required for the powered site (since we didn’t intend to use power anyway), but there was some consternation at the onsen when we went to pay for the campsite. “Well, you’re camped in the car-camping spot, so you should actually pay the full car price,” the man at the counter explained. I countered that there was no one else at the campground, and even if we wanted to camp in the non-powered areas, we’d need to trudge through snow to get to them.
It wasn’t so much that he wanted to charge us the car-camping price. It was just that the rules dictate that he should do so. After an awkward silence he relented and we paid our 500yen for the tent, and headed to the onsen for a soak. Dinner was cooked after the onsen in the tent, with us wrapped up in down jackets against the cold.