Posted on Aug 10, 2022
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Posted on Aug 10, 2022

0 0
25km

Distance

1 day(s)

Time

3/5

Remoteness

5/5

Water clarity

7/10

Difficulty

Jul-Sep

Best season

Kamui-misaki 神威岬 is a breath-taking, tall cape jutting into the Japan Sea at the western tip of Shakotan Peninsula 積丹岬 in western Hokkaido. Steep hillsides are carpeted in bright green bamboo grass and coastal vegetation, punctuated with rocky crags. The intertidal zone stretches out into the sea, with rocky spires to paddle around. Here, we outline a long sea kayak day-paddle along the northern and southern sides of the cape. South of Kamui-misaki is the gorgeous Numamae-misaki cape 沼前岬 and the jagged rocky Jubo-misaki cape ジュウボウ岬. Crystal clear water, natural and man-made caves, impressive rocky capes, and the dramatic Shishamonai Falls シシャモナイ滝 make this an excellent day out for fit paddlers.

We visited this route on Jul 09, 2022

Thanks to Shakotan Kayaks for feedback on this post. Paddlers: Haidee, Alex, Simon, Ben.

Route Map

Need to know details

Location

Kamui-misaki is a prominent cape at the northwestern tip of Shakotan Peninsula in southwestern Hokkaido. It’s about a 2 hour drive west of Sapporo City. Here, we describe a route putting in at the northeastern end of the route, but paddlers can of course paddle in the other direction – make your own decision based on weather and swell forecasts.

Put-in Location: Google Maps

For this route guide, we assume paddlers put in at the northeastern end of the route, at the Nozuka Municipal Campground 野塚道営野営場, here. There is a nice beach next to the campground, perfect for launching off. In summer, the surf is rarely very large here. If you’d prefer to keep the trip very short, it’s also possible to put in from the rocky beach near the public toilets next to the Ushio seafood restaurant, here, right next to Cape Kamui. This would cut about 6km from the route.

Take-out Location: Google Maps

Take out at the Nishi-no-kawara 西の河原 bay, here. The beach is rocky, but there’s a convenient underpass walkway with stairs up to the large parking area above the bay. The public toilets marked on Google Maps are currently out of order. We’ve heard reports of brown bear sightings in the area, so take the normal bear precautions. Also be aware that mamushi snakes (venomous Japanese pit vipers) are common, particularly basking on the bouldery beach.

General notes

It’s difficult to overstate how impressive this section of the Shakotan coast is. While the rugged Kamui-misaki cape often takes the limelight, the Shishamonai Falls is jaw-dropping, as is the Jubo Cape ジュウボウ岬 and Numamae Cape 沼前岬 areas. The water is crystal clear along the duration of the route, and cliff tops are covered in beautiful green vegetation.

  • Weather and sea conditions: This area can be a tough nut to crack in terms of weather. Calm, settled conditions are relatively rare, even in the height of summer. On a good day the clarity of the water is really quite outstanding, so we’d highly recommend seeking out the best of conditions.
  • Cape Jubo-misaki: This ruggedly beautiful cape and the Shishamonai Falls beyond it are by far the most remote sections of this route. Access by foot is extremely challenging, requiring some serious scrambling along very steep and exposed coast. Make conservative decisions when considering whether or not to make the return trip to Shishamonai Falls or not.
  • Enroute camping: A rugged camp could be set on Jubo-misaki cape’s Nishi-no-kawara spit, but note that there’s no fresh water source there. Beyond this, there are precious few areas suited to camping.
  • Escape from the water: Much of the non-cape areas of the route have National Highway 229 running along the shoreline. The road is elevated about 4m from the shore in most places, however, with high concrete walls running along the shore, so access to the road can be tricky with kayaks in tow. There are sporadic, narrow concrete stairs to access the road from the shore.
  • Fishing ports: As per Hokkaido bylaws, fishing ports are off-limits to recreational craft (including kayaks) unless in an emergency.
Route description

Put in at the beach at Nozuka Campground and paddle west towards Kamui-misaki cape. At this point, the cape you can see in the distance is Mui-misaki cape 武威岬, about 3km west of the campround. Kamui-misaki is another 5km beyond that. From the campground to Mui-misaki, you’ll be paddling along a relatively flat stretch of coast; the sea bottom is sandy and the water is relatively shallow. If conditions are calm, enjoy the extraordinary clarity of the water; you’ll feel as though you’re floating on thin air, your shadow projected onto the sea floor.

Just beyond Mui-misaki, and just before the Yobetsu fishing port 余別漁港 is a small cape with remnants of the old coastal foot tunnel. The cape area is surrounded by tidal rocks, so wander up to take a look if the tides work out.

From there it’s a 4km paddle to get to the beginning of the Kamui-misaki cape area proper. Watch out for another old foot tunnel, tunnelling from one side of a small cape to the other. It’s long enough to require a torch to walk through it safely – it gets very dark in there. Hikers may be seen walking through the tunnel, having accessed the coast from further east.

Paddling further west now towards Kamui-misaki proper, you’ll likely see the hordes of tourists packed into the narrow walkway high above along the ridge of the cape. It’s a truly freeing feeling, being far from the madding crowds. The steep, green-carpeted slopes to the cape’s ridgeline here are beautiful.

Depending on which way the swell and waves are coming from, one side of the cape will usually be in the lee of swell – most likely the eastern side. Therefore, paddlers may find more challenging paddling conditions once they round the cape. Turning back at the cape to return the way you came would be perfectly acceptable, so keep that option in your back pocket.

If conditions continue to be favourable, continue now southward along a coast that alternates between rugged capes and concreted shoreline. All the cape areas are untouched by human activity, as the National Highway 229 cuts through them via tunnels. Easily the most spectacular capes along this west-facing coastline are Numamae-misaki and Jubo-misaki. Numamae-misaki is home to caves and narrow waterways between towering rocky coast. Jubo-misaki feels straight out of Jurassic Park.

Then the climax of the trip is the spectacular Shishamonai Falls. Getting there requires a there-and-back extension to the trip of about 4km. More of a cascade perhaps than a waterfall, this remote, kayak-only-access waterfall is worth the extra effort to see, however, for paddlers who still have energy in the tank after paddling 20km already.

Route Timing
Trip time: 7hrs 30min

The recommended time of 7.5hrs here allows for a very leisurely exploration of intertidal zones, waterfalls, tunnels, and a spot of snorkelling.

Transport

Public transport:

In summer, the eastern side of Kamui-misaki is serviced by a public bus from Otaru City to Kamui-misaki – the Shakotan Line 積丹線 run by Chuo Bus. Shakotan-hamanaka bus stop 積丹浜中バス停 (location) is right next to the Nozuka Campground. The southern side of Kamui-misaki is serviced by a public bus from Iwanai Town 岩内町 to Kamui-misaki, also run by Chuo Bus – the Kamoenai Line 神恵内線. There’s a bus stop at the recommended take out for this route; the Numanokawara Bus Stop 沼の河原バス停 (location). Google Maps has good up to date timetabling information. The buses only run between April and October.

By car: 

There’s plenty of free parking at both the recommended put-ins/take-outs on this route. The Nozuka Campground has plenty, and there’s a huge parking area at Numanokawara.

Physical maps

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

PRINTED CHARTS

The Otaru-Kamui Misaki 小樽—神威岬 yachting chart covers the Shakotan Peninsula 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 (Kamui Misaki; 6324-3) is available here.

Official Topo Map: Yobetsu (余別) – map no. NK-54-20-9-1
Official Topo Map 2: Kamui-misaki (神威岬) – map no. NK-54-20-9-3

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

Shakotan Peninsula is bear country so take the normal bear-safety precautions. In particular, at the take-out at Numanokawara, there have been reports as of 2022 of sightings of bears that appear to not be afraid of humans. As is the case with the majority of Hokkaido sea kayaking, this is an exposed coast, with a large fetch across the Japan Sea. Kamui-misaki is often the border between calmer and heavier seas, so make conservative decisions when the sea is up beyond the cape.

Weather forecast

Windy.com weather forecast for Kamui-misaki

Tide
Tide information for Kamui-misaki

CampSites

Nozuka Prefectural Campground (道営野塚野営場)

This is a simple yet picturesque campground right on the Japan Sea coast, on the northwestern tip of Shakotan Peninsula. It’s right next to a nice swimming beach and is popular in the summer months. The gorgeous Misaki-no-yu Onsen is only 2.5km away, up on the hillside – amazing views from the large outdoor baths across the sea.

Location: 43.33437 N / 140.44482 E
Closest Onsen: Misaki no Yu Onsen (岬の湯しゃこたん) | 900yen | 2.5km from campground
Onsen nearby

Shakotan Peninsula is home to a few really good onsen. Nozuka Campground is close to the amazing hilltop Misaki-no-yu 岬の湯 (location, 900yen). They have a large relaxation area and offer meals. The sunset views from the outdoor baths are incredible. If you’re heading back to Sapporo, consider the lovely Furubira Onsen 日本海ふるびら温泉しおかぜ (location, 550yen).

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

Guide Options

There are a number of kayak tour operators offering guided sea kayaking tours on Shakotan Peninsula, but English-speaking guides are scarce. Shakotan Kayaks is arguably the most experienced with this particular stretch of coastline. Ocean Days has an office in Bikuni (main office at Lake Shikotsu), and may offer tours in English. Toyru guiding may also be able to cater to English-speaking paddlers.

Show Full Route Notes Close Route Notes

Route Trip Notes

While they are frequent coastal SUPers (with much more knowledge of the Shakotan coast than us), it was Alex and Simon’s first time sea kayaking, so we wanted to keep things simple and short.

“It’ll be about 15km, perhaps a few more if we want to check out Shishamonai Falls,” I messaged to them. “Probably about four hours on the water,” I added optimistically.

Perhaps deep down, I knew I was being optimistic. Haidee was more realistic.

“You really should tell them we might be on the water for much longer than that,” the ever-realistic Haidee cautioned me.

“Yeah, it might be more like five hours,” I said to them.

In the end, we were on the water for a total of a very leisurely 9 hours, covering a distance of 26km.

“Had we known it was going to be this long before setting off,” said Alex at the end of it all, “we wouldn’t have agreed to come along.”

“But, it was awesome!”

We all camped at the Nozuka Campground the night before the trip. Surprisingly, the campground was less jam-packed with people than we’d expected. Ben was there too. While Haidee and I set up our tent, the others slept in their cars.

Being Alex and Simon’s first time in sea kayaks, we did some drills at the Nozuka beach before setting off for the day. Natural born sea-lovers, they picked up self-rescues quickly. It was a nice way to keep cool too – even though it was 6am, it was already quite warm.

As soon as we left the campsite beach, we were taken aback at just how clear the water was. Being a very still, calm morning helped, but the sensation of hovering above the sea floor was mesmerizing. The low morning sun projected our shadows on the sandy, sometimes rocky sea bottom.

Our first destination for the day was the curious Mui-misaki 武意岬. Just around the corner of Mui-misaki are the remnants of some very early attempts at tunnels around the Shakotan Coast. Perhaps only large enough for a person, or a horse and cart, these holes in the rocks speak volumes about Hokkaido early settlers’ attempts at taming what is often a very inhospitable coast – particularly in winter.

From Mui-misaki, we made a beeline for the old foot tunnel – the Nembutsu Tunnel 念仏トンネル – on the small cape beyond Warishiri-misaki ワリシリ岬, just before Kamui-misaki proper. Marked on the official topomaps, this curious tunnel is accessible on foot, via a long scramble long the rocky shoreline from the car parking area just east of the cape. We saw a few surprised hikers as we had a look through the tunnel.

As Alex and I walked through the length of the tunnel, Ben jumped off his sit-on-top kayak (lent by Timbah) for another swim around with his snorkelling mask on – for the duration of the trip he was off and on his kayak, enjoying the clear water and sea life.

Beyond Nembutsu Tunnel, we were now approaching what we were expecting to be the main event of the trip – the mighty Kamui-misaki 神威岬 cape. As we approached the cape, we could see the tourist hordes walking drone-like along the ridge-line trail to the lighthouse. We’d all gone through that purgatory before, and were feeling a special sort of freedom to be exploring the area on our own terms in our kayaks.

Somewhat predictably, the western side of Kamui-misaki greeted us with a more challenging sea state. A moderate swell pressed itself towards the cape from the west, as per the Windy.com wave and well forecast we’d seen in the morning. If the forecast continued to keep accurate, we’d see the swell die down as the day progressed, so we weren’t too concerned. There was next to no wind still.

It was about time we had a longer break for lunch, so we landed at a suitable-looking rocky beach just south beyond the cape. After landing, however, we discovered that we’d managed to find the most litter-strewn beach of the trip. The winter prevailing wind in Hokkaido is from the northwest, so clearly this spot gets plenty of rough weather in the winter months, dumping all manner of things on the beach.

The vast majority of the litter was commercial fishing-related gear – ropes, nets, massive polystyrene and plastic buoys, baskets, plastic octopus and squid traps…

The single redeeming factor of fishing-related litter on these windward beaches is the prospect of finding good solid baskets for gear. They’re super handy for storing PFDs, sprayskirts…all manner of paddling gear.

Ben was in super-scrounger mode, and found two baskets in excellent condition. We zip-tied them to some convenient mounting points on his kayak, and he heroically transported them the remaining 15km of the trip.

From our lunch spot, it was a 6km paddle along the coast to the impressive Numamae-misaki 沼前岬 cape. We shared this stretch with the relatively lonely National Highway 229. I’d originally thought it might be a bit depressing sharing the coast with the road, but the coast continued to impress, and we barely noticed it.

Numamae-misaki was, quite frankly, astonishing. We’d all been so focussed on seeing Shishamonai Falls at the end of the trip, that we’d not really thought too much about the two capes we’d pass by along the way. Alex paddled ahead a little, and discovered a couple of amazing caves. Cathedral-like, they were simply stunning.

Numamae-misaki’s various narrow waterways were also mind-bending. Not knowing what to expect, we were amazed to find narrow passages around craggy rocks.

The impressive scenes, apparently transported from the rocky mountainous crags of Patagonia, continued as we approached Jubo-misaki ジュウボウ岬 cape. We were thankful for the calm sea state – no doubt this area can see some weather.

And then Shishamonai Falls.

“A cascade, really,” joked Simon, who’d been to the falls before, accessing them from the south on SUPs.

Cut off from any sort of easy access on foot, we felt like we’d stepped into an alternate realm.

By this point, we’d paddled over 20km. It had all been very leisurely, and the sea state had been perfect for the trip. Shishamonai Falls was an extension to the trip, and we’d need to paddle back around Jubo-misaki to get to our take-out at Nishinokawara.

The final 3km from the falls back to Nishinokawara felt further than it needed to feel. All of us are relatively new to sea kayaking, so we’re still getting our paddling muscles up to speed and endurance.

Nishinokawara felt like a perfect place to take out from the water. While the coast was mainly cut off by a tall concrete wall to the highway above, we had to give thanks to the engineers who added a concrete accessway to the beach from the car park. The rocky beach was a bit of a balancing act to transport the gear and kayaks to our car above (we’d shuttled a car there in the morning from the campground), but all in all it was efficient.

Once we had all the boats on the roof of the van, we all headed back to Nozuka Campground for onsen, food, and a relaxing sleep. The next day we lounged around at the campground until after lunch, watching the sea slowly grow rougher as a northeasterly rolled in. We’d definitely had the best of the weather.

Comments | Queries | Reports

Done this route to Kamui-misaki, or other waterways nearby? Thinking of doing it? Please post any feedback, reports, or queries here. Thanks!

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Kamui-misaki Sea Kayaking Daytrip 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.