Candle Rock and Furubira Coast


Posted on May 31, 2023

Posted on May 31, 2023

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2 day(s)





Water clarity




Best season





The Shakotan Peninsula 積丹半島 coast from Yoichi 余市 to Bikuni 美国 is a 25km stretch of high cliffs, small fishing villages, clear water, and one of Hokkaido's most iconic coastal features - Candle Rock ロウソク岩. At certain times of the year, the rising sun looks like a flame at the tip of this prominent 46m tall spire protruding directly from the sea's surface. In particular, the southern section of this stretch of coast, around Shiripa-misaki シリパ岬 is a gorgeous labyrinth of rocks, reefs, and secluded beaches.

We visited this route on Oct 15, 2022

Paddlers: Haidee, Timbah, Saoka


Route Map

Need to know details


This section of coast is situated at the southeastern end of the Shakotan Peninsula, west of Sapporo City in southwestern Hokkaido. The full 25km section as described here starts at Yoichi Town and finishes at the small fishing village of Bikuni. There are multiple options along the way to shorten the trip.

Put-in Location: Google Maps

We recommend putting in at Hamanaka Moire Beach 浜中モイレ海水浴場 (location) just west of the Yoichi River mouth. There’s easy access to the beach, and plenty of parking. Officially, this is a swimming beach, so in the height of the summer season, it may be busy with families and kids.

Take-out Location: Google Maps

For the full 25km paddle, take out at the Bikuni Fishing Port Beach 美国漁港海岸緑地広場 (location). If you’d like to just take in the best of the coast from Yoichi to Candle Rock, we would recommend taking out at the sheltered Yunai Beach 湯内ビーチ at Toyohama-cho 豊浜町 (location). That would give you a paddle of about 12km.

General notes

Take a look on GSI’s topomaps of the area, and you’ll see the eastern portion of this route has about as many capes as you can get in a 10km section of coast. The best part is that they’re all spectacular in their own right – high conglomerate cliffs, caves, and secluded gravel beaches. Just paddling that first 10-15km or so of this route is a treat. When we first paddled the full 25km stretch, however, we opted to make it an easy overnighter trip, camping along the way on the old abandoned road at the 13km point, just after the iconic Candle Rock (ロウソク岩 Rosoku-iwa).

Like the vast majority of sea kayaking locations in Hokkaido, this route is exposed to the open sea. In summer (July-Sept), however, the Japan Sea is very often a calm oasis, with very little swell.

Route description

Put in at the Hamanaka swimming/surf beach at Yoichi, and head northwest along the beach and past the large Yoichi Port breakwaters. Soon, you’ll leave the concrete behind for a while as you paddle around the gorgeous Cape Shiripa シリパ岬 (Shiripa-misaki). This cape marks the beginning of a fantastic 8km section of rocky capes and secluded gravel beaches. There are two caves along the way – one at Shiripa-misaki, and one at Eboshi-misaki. This section of coast culminates at the weirdly famous Ebisu Rock. It’s difficult to understand why this rock is such a tourist attraction if only looking at it from the water. From the road on the coast, it does make a nice photograph, so long as you avoid getting the concrete breakwaters into the shot.

From Ebisu-iwa it’s about 3km to one of the highlights of this section of coast – Candle Rock ロウソク岩 (Rosoku-iwa). This rock gets its name from the fact that at certain times of the year, the rising sun looks like a flame atop this 46m high prominence. The rock is about 500m from the coast proper, so choose your weather wisely to ensure a safe crossing to the small rocky island. Note also that the sea is relatively shallow between the rock and the coast proper – this can lead to some confused seas when there is wind chop.

If conditions are a bit concerning at this point for the remainder of the trip, it’s possible to take shelter in the well-protected Yunai Beach cove 湯内地区 (location). There’s a nice sandy beach, toilets, and a bus stop (Toyohamacho 豊浜町), here. This is also an OK place to camp if you’d prefer to be closer to civilization.

West along the coast from Yunai beach is Charashinai Cape チャラシナイ岬. This cape is the location of one of Hokkaido’s worst road tunnel accidents, where a large part of the cliff collapsed, punctured the entrance to a tunnel, and crushed a bus that happened to be traveling through the tunnel at the moment it happened. 20 people died. Had we known this beforehand, we may not have chosen to camp on the now-abandoned road in front of the now-closed tunnel. The rocky beach there can make for a nice campfire though, so the less superstitious will find it a perfectly good remote campsite.

The remaining 12km to Bikuni travels past a slightly more populated section of coast, but still has enjoyable capes to round here and there. The take out at Bikuni is a good one – a protected beach, large car park, campground, toilets, and running water for rinsing off gear.

Route Timing
Day 1: 7hrs 0min
Day 2: hrs 0min

At around 25km in length, this section of coast can be done in one long day. It’s also suited to an overnight trip.


Public transport:

Yoichi Town is accessible from Sapporo by JR train – get off at Yoichi JR train station 余市JR駅 (location). From the train station to the nearest feasible put-in on the coast is a 1km walk (route here). This whole section of coast, along Route 229, is serviced by the Hokkaido Chuo Bus Shakotan-sen bus line 北海道中央バス積丹線(20). Buses run about once an hour. This makes public transport shuttling relatively straightforward. At the eastern end (Yoichi end) of the route, there’s the Hamanakacho bus stop 浜中町 (location). At the western end of the route (Bikuni), there’s the Bikuni-bashi bus stop 美国橋 (location). Along the route there’s the Furubira Kazoku Ryokomura 古平家族旅行村 bus stop (location), Okimachi 沖町 bus stop (location), Toyohamacho 豊浜町 bus stop (location) and Shiraiwacho 白岩町 bus stop (location). These are all situated nicely for an early escape from the water if need be.

By car: 

There is plenty of parking at all the feasible put-ins and take-outs. Access to Yoichi from Sapporo is quickest via the expressway (about 1,900yen from central Sapporo) at around one hour. Via the low roads, there is usually quite heavy traffic leaving Sapporo, but it does thin out somewhat. Still, expect up to two hours from central Sapporo via the low roads to Yoichi.

Physical maps

Japanese-language ENCs are available on the Japanese-language new pec smart smartphone app (Android | iPhone). 960yen per month for a subscription.


The Otaru-Kamui Misaki 小樽—神威岬 yachting chart covers this section of coast in 1:150,000 scale. It’s available as a physical chart (Y-Chart H-119W – buy online). Another option is the S-Guide for Otaru (DH811W-06), available as PDF download (buy online here). The scale is spotty though, with only the main fishing ports included in small scale. The JHA/Japan Coast Guard 1:200,000 nautical chart for this area is Mashike Ko to Iwanai Ko (W28 – buy online). A printed 1:50,000 scale bathymetric chart (Otaru; 6323-3) is available here.

Official Topo Map: Yoichi (余市) – map no. NK-54-20-1-4
Official Topo Map 2: Toyohama (豊浜) – map no. NK-54-20-5-2
Official Topo Map 3: Bikuni (美国) – map no. NK-54-20-5-3

NOTE: The official 1/25000 topo map(s) above can be purchased for 350yen from Kinokuniya bookstore next to Sapporo Station or online (in Japanese).

route safety

In the summer months, this section of coast can be as flat as a millpond. Take care with any strong northerly winds however. There’s a large fetch to the north, so wind swell will whip up quickly. There are a number of escape options along the route, but note that capes are largely inaccessible by land, and there are some remote beaches only accessible by water.

Weather forecast weather forecast for Yoichi/Furubira Coast

Tide information for Furubira


Bikuni-gyoko Park (美国漁港海岸緑地広場)

Bikuni-gyoko Park 美国漁港海岸緑地広場 is a free, municipal-run campground in the small settlement of Bikuni on the Shakotan Peninsula. It’s right next to a beach, so is very popular in the summer months. There’s a Seicomart convenience store within short walking distance.

Location: 43.29676 N / 140.60509 E | Open: May-Oct
Closest Onsen: Furubira Onsen Shiokaze (日本海ふるびら温泉しおかぜ) | 550yen | 4.7km from campground
Onsen nearby

Our onsen of choice for this area is the lovely Furubira Onsen 古平温泉 (location, 550yen), nestled in the hills above Furubira Town at the western end of this paddle. It’s about 3.1km from the nearest feasible take out for a kayak, however, so is best considered for a soak on the way back to Sapporo from Bikuni (if driving). Another onsen, this time at the far eastern end of the route in Yoichi, is the Tsurukame Onsen 鶴亀温泉 (location, 850yen). It’s accessible from the beach, and there’s an attached restaurant serving good onsen fare (open for lunch 11:30-14:30, dinner 17:00-19:30). Tsurukame Onsen has a good view of the beach and sea from the outdoor baths.

Extra Resources
No extra English resources that we know of. If you know of any, please let us know in the comments.

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Route Trip Notes

It was another last-minute weekend mission. It followed all the usual patterns. Wednesday, messages started getting sent around.

“Any plans for the weekend?”

“Not sure, depends on the weather,” would be the reply.

Then Thursday comes around. From Sapporo, we’ve got access to a number of coasts, all facing different directions. So begins looking at the weather, divining what coast might have the best conditions.

“Shakotan could be a goer,” the messages read.

Then Friday morning. “How about we try an overnighter around Yoichi?”

And so birthed the plan for this early autumn weekend paddle.

We left Sapporo on the Saturday morning early, so we could get to Yoichi, drop the kayaks and gear, drive the van to the take out 21km west along the coast, and catch the bus back to the put in.

I ended up being the one to drop the van off at Bikuni and take the bus back. In the end, however, I managed to get to Bikuni just after the one bus for the hour departed from the bus stop near the Bikuni beach. I called the team and we decided that it was worth not waiting an hour for the next bus, and get a taxi instead. Splitting the 6000yen between the four of us made it worth the extra cost to save an hour or more of paddling time.

We pushed off the beach at 10:40am.

It was dead calm. We covered the 3km or so to Shiripa-misaki in no time.

Rounding the cape, we were immediately thrust into a different world. Gone were concrete breakwaters and old abandoned roads. We were now surrounded by rock, cliffs, and caves.

Beyond Shiripa-misaki was cape after cape after cape. Tall conglomerate cliffs. Secluded gravel beaches. All sheltered, all dead calm.

We could also see the day’s main prize in the distance – the iconic Candle Rock. Everyone who knows about Shakotan Peninsula knows about Candle Rock. Today, the conditions looked like they would allow us access.

But along the way, first, another cave. This one deeper than the first.

We’d paddled part of this coastline to Ebisu Rock previously, but on that day there was a very decent swell running. We weren’t able to confidently access Candle Rock. Today we were heading straight for it.

The base of Candle Rock was more island-like than I’d envisioned. We paddled around the outside of the island, before tucking into the rocky reef on the inside. Took the obligatory photos. And then carried on. A tick-it-off-the-list sort of experience.

With the main event now over, next on the list was to find a suitable spot to camp for the night. We’d Google-scouted a couple of possible locations, but on the ground, the beach was either too small or too steep or too rocky.

Soon we came to the old abandoned Route 229 relics. Old highways now cut off from the rest of the world. Tunnels concreted shut. We figured we might be able to camp on the old road. We tried one bay, but access to the road was going to be difficult – we’d need to climb up a 2m-high concrete embankment. Timbah gallantly took a look, but even with his height, it was a scramble.

The next bay along the coast, however, had a flight of stairs up to the road. There was also a flat spot in the coarse rocky beach, perfect for a campfire.

We were set.

And then we noticed a statue near the tunnel entrance (the entrance is now concreted over).  This made me recall that there was some sort of traffic disaster along this stretch of coast. We had a very weak cellular signal, so I looked it up.

Sure enough, along this coast somewhere there’d been a tunnel cave-in, killing 20 people.

“Wow, that’s tragic,” I said. The others nodded in agreement.

I wondered where exactly this had happened. Upon looking at photos online, and watching some drone footage of others who had done their own macabre disaster sightseeing, I came to a somewhat unsettling realization.

The tunnel entrance where we’d pitched out tents not 20m away from, was the very tunnel entrance that had collapsed, crushing a tourist bus, killing all 20 occupants. It took officials two weeks to get to the wreckage.

Details here and here. Location here.

It was just going on dusk when we made this grisly realization. 

“That is so spooky,” said Saoka.

Indeed, the realization cast a somewhat spooky pall over the night’s campfire.

Despite the fact we were camped so close the site of a disaster, I slept well. The sun rose warm against the cliffs for the final 10km or so to Bikuni.

We would spend those 10km paddling from cape to cape, punctuated by concrete, old decaying abandoned roads, and small settlements on the coast.

It was obviously the season for salmon fishing – the Furubira River mouth was teeming with fishers. Dead salmon who had not made it to the river floated lifeless and moldy on the surface of the water.

After rounding Attoma-misaki, the last cape before Bikuni, Haidee decided to practice some rolling. 

“I’m so hot in my drysuit,” she complained.

We arrived into Bikuni at just after 11am. The beach was alive with fishers and campers. We were glad we’d made the effort to make this an overnight trip. It was one of the last kayaking trips of our season for 2022. Not long after, the Sea of Japan switched to winter mode – strong northwesterlies, making the likelihood of a calm paddling day much less.

Comments | Queries | Reports

Done this route to Yoichi/Furubira Coast, or other waterways nearby? Thinking of doing it? Please post any feedback, reports, or queries here. Thanks!

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Candle Rock and Furubira Coast Difficulty Rating





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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.