Posted on Apr 30, 2023

Posted on Apr 30, 2023

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The outer coast of Muroran's Etomo Peninsula 絵鞆半島 is a spectacular stretch of cliffs that sits in stark contrast to the apocalyptic steelworks of the inner harbour. While the heaving industrial heart of Muroran spews steam into the air just a few kilometers to the north, this coastline retains its natural splendor. Expect high, pearly-white limestone and conglomerate cliffs, sea birds, dramatic capes, and ginormous tunnel rocks - Horaimon 蓬莱門 is a clear highlight. At the eastern end of the route, Itanki Beach is one of Hokkaido's most popular surf spots - there's plenty of room for kayaks to practice their surfing skills too.

We visited this route on Oct 01, 2022

The crew: Haidee, Timbah, Ben


Route Map

Need to know details


Muroran is an industrial city of about 90,000 people in southwest Hokkaido, about a two hour drive southwest of Sapporo City. This sea kayaking section of coast follows the outer coast of Muroran’s Etomo Peninsula at the south of the city. The route runs from Cape Etomo 絵鞆岬 to Itanki-hama イタンキ浜 beach, via cape Chikyu-misaki 地球岬.

Put-in Location: Google Maps

See all the put-in/take-outs on the map here. For this full section of coast, put in at the small beach near Ebisu-jima island えびす島, here, at the western end of the route. This small beach is flanked by a fortress of bluffs, private accessways, and private property, so getting to it is quite the ordeal in itself. The only accessway is over/around an old fence that stands between the southern terminus of the outer-most port breakwater and a clay bluff, here. Zoom in on Google Satellite, and you’ll see a foot path cutting its way through the sasa bamboo grass to the coast. Note that the road to this point is officially within a small fishing port area, which is officially off-limits to the public. There’s a gate here which is only open (unlocked) from 4am till 3pm. If you’re just unloading boats, you should have no issue with quickly dropping gear off before exiting and parking elsewhere (such as the Enrum Marina car park). See the map here. Note that sea kayaks are not allowed to use the marina nor the fishing port. It is, naturally, possible to put in at Itanki-hama beach (see below).

Take-out Location: Google Maps

If traveling from west to east, you’ll take out at Itanki-hama beach, a well-known Hokkaido surf spot. The beach is protected somewhat by breakwaters, however, so in most swell conditions you should be able to find a relatively sheltered spot to take out without too much excitement. That said, if there is a large swell forecast, we’d recommend scouting the take out in advance, before setting off on the trip. Alternatively, if the winds allow it, make Itanki-hama beach your put in.

Denshin-hama beach 電信浜: The alternative take out, about half way through this route, is Denshin-hama, here. This is a hopelessly picturesque sheltered bay with breakwaters off the beach, making it a fairly reliable escape option if you want to make the trip shorter. Access to the beach is via a 50m flight of stairs though – including a hairpin bend in the stairs part way up – so hauling long sea kayaks up to the road can be a little challenging. Parking near Denshin-hama can be challenging too. You’d get away with parking one or two vehicles near the entrance (here), but officially this is frowned upon. There’s official parking at the Muroran City Museum here, or the Muroran City Library here, both about 300m away.

General notes

For those only familiar with the somewhat grotesque interior of Muroran’s industrial wastelands, it may come as a surprise that the city is home to one of Hokkaido’s most spectacular stretches of coastline. Indeed, the Ainu themselves appreciated this coastline so much that they gave it the name Pirikanoka – “beautiful shape”. With splendid white cliffs, interspersed with grey conglomerate, plus organ-pipe volcanic formations in places, it’s really quite extraordinary. This is all topped off by the towering Chikyu-misaki cape in the center of it all.

For the sea kayaker, adding to this visual feast is also some great rock-hopping options, and an excellent surf beach at the eastern end of the route – Itanki-hama beach.

  • Access: As mentioned above in the put-in/take-out details, access to the coast at the western end of the route is a little convoluted. Be courteous and friendly in your interactions with locals.
Route description

Here we describe paddling from west to east, but naturally this section can be paddled the opposite direction also – weather forecast here. Put in at the small beach near Ebisu-jima island and paddle southeast along the coast. The coast is immediately flanked by beautiful white cliffs. Take care around here – small fishing vessels will be operating, harvesting sea urchins and Alabone. There’s a small, remote beach flanked by cliffs about 1.5km after setting off, on the eastern side of Ginbyobu rock, here. This is a nice spot to pull up and make adjustments or stretch the legs.

From Ginbyobu rock, it’s about 3km of pleasant paddling past minor capes, through archways, and via rock-bound channels to Denshin-hama beach. The bay at Denshin-hama is nicely sheltered by a large breakwater forming part of the Oinaoshi fishing port. It’s possible to take out at Denshin-hama, via a flight of stairs.

From Denshin-hama, continue paddling along the coast, taking care to cross the mouth of Oinaoshi Port expediently, and while keeping an eye out for fishing vessels. A few kilometers beyond Oinaoishi port is Charatsunai bay. There are a couple of old banya fishing huts at the bay, just above an old concrete boat ramp, protected somewhat by a small rocky reef. It’s a good place to take a break before carrying on. From Charatsunai to Tokkarisho Beach, 4km away, there are limited places to escape from the water.

About 500m east from Charatsunai is a highlight of the trip – Horai-mon Gate. This colossal archway is fun to paddle through when conditions are calm and there’s little to no swell. When the swell is up, the swell gets constricted through the arch, surging upwards as it presses its way through. Even when conditions are calm, take a few minutes to observe the swell before committing to paddling through.

About 1.5km on from Horai-mon is Chikyu-misaki cape. This towering cape is worth paddling to just to take a look at it. Whether or not you paddle around it to the eastern side will depend on sea conditions on the eastern side. The cape somewhat shelters the paddler from easterly conditions, so things might change suddenly near the cape.

If conditions are rather unfavourable east of the cape, there is a safe-haven at Tokkarisho-hama beach. This beach is sheltered by breakwaters off the beach. In a pinch, paddlers could escape from the coast up to the road above the beach via the old walkway. Hauling kayaks up this walkway wouldn’t be impossible, but it would be a chore. It’s about 500m, plus a 100m elevation gain.

Less than 1km north of Tokkarisho-hama beach are two 50m-high rocks sitting independently out from the coast. When there’s a swell running, the reefs around the rocks can be a great place for rock-hopping and surfing. In very low tide conditions, the entire reef is exposed, and accessible on foot. In the small bay directly southwest of the rocks is a colossal arch-way-like cave.

From the rock-hopping rocks, it’s another 2km or so to the take out at Itanki-hama beach. This is a popular surf spot, so watch out for surfers, and if the conditions are right, enjoy some surfing yourself. From the beach, it’s a 200m carry to the parking lot.


Route Timing
Trip time: 8hrs 0min

The timing here allows for about 1-2 hours of surfing at Itanki-hama beach.


Public transport:

There are public bus stops near the western and eastern put ins. For the western-most put in, take a public bus from JR Muroran train station to Enrumu-marina-mae bus stop エンルムマリナ前 (location). Google Maps has timetabling information (here). From the marina to the put in, it’s a 10-minute walk (directions). For the take out at Itanki-hama beach, the Shiomi-koen-iriguchi 潮見公園入口 bus stop (location) is a five-minute walk from the beach (directions). Google Maps has timetabling details.

By car: 

Itanki-hama beach has plenty of parking in the large gravel parking lot here. For the western-most put in, there’s no official parking next to the put-in. You’ll need to park about a 10-minute walk away at the marina, here. If taking out or putting in at Denshin-hama beach, the nearest official parking is at the Muroran City Museum here, or the Muroran City Library here, both about 300m away from the beach access stairway.

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 Japan Hydrological Association nautical chart for the area is the Muroran Port to Tomakomai Port chart 室蘭港至苫小牧港 (W1034) available in 1:100,00 scale. Furthermore, the small-vessel S-Guide for Muroran (DH810W-03) is available as PDF download (buy online here). This has the Muroran area is large scale, and the ports enroute in smaller scale. A printed 1:50,000 scale bathymetric chart (Muroran; 6373-4) for the area is available for purchase here.

Official Topo Map: Muroran (室蘭) – map no. NK-54-21-3-1

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

This section of coast exposes the paddler to two different aspects – westerly conditions and easterly conditions. Just because one side of Cape Chikyu-misaki is calm, doesn’t mean the other side will be. We recommend scouting conditions on both sides of the cape before setting off, and keep aware of what the weather is forecast to do during the day. Also note that while there are intermittent places to escape from the water if need be, not all of these locations have access to the roads above. Indeed, much of the route here is flanked by cliffs where escape from the water itself is also difficult.

Weather forecast weather forecast for Muroran Coast

Tide information for Muroran


Onsen nearby

Muroran Onsen Yurara 室蘭温泉ゆらら (location, 680yen) is our pick for a post-paddle soak. Near the western end of the route, this large public onsen has nice outdoor baths with views across the marina and Muroran port area. There’s an attached restaurant for simple meals.

Extra Resources

Yamakei Sea Kayaking Map (Yama to Keikoku, 2005), p. 32-33.

Guide Options

If you’d like to paddle this area with a guide, consider speaking to Pacifica Outdoor Guiding (formerly Otaki Outdoor Adventures). While they don’t offer a sea kayaking tour product for this area per se, they may be able to arrange something for you if schedules align. The lead guide, Masaaki Sakai, speaks English and has spent time living and working abroad. Also, for those living in the Muroran area, you might consider joining the Muroran Sea Kayak Club – they’re often seeking new members.

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Show Full Route Notes Close Route Notes

Route Trip Notes

The forecast was looking stellar for the coast off Muroran’s Etomo Peninsula for the Saturday and morning of Sunday. So, we hatched a plan to meet up for a paddle early on Saturday, a rough sleep over in the surf beach car park that night, and if we were lucky, a surf session on Sunday morning.

This would be the second time we would paddle the first section of coast, from Ebisu-jima island to Horai-mon rock, west of Chikyu-misaki. This time, however, we would paddle the full 18km or so all the way to Itanki-hama beach.

The last time we paddled the initial section of coast, we had a really hard time finding exactly where we could access the coast for the put in. We ended up, unbeknownst to us, trespassing around the front of the Miyakoshi Coffee place (attached to a private home) in order to get to the small beach we would set off from.

On that day, we had started at 5am in the morning, so at the end of the day I visited the coffee shop and explained what we’d done.

“Yeah, that’s completely trespassing,” laughed the French-Canadian chap who runs the coffee shop.

It turned out that he was a follower of, so we had a good chat about paddling in the area. Crucially, however, he showed me the rough trail that recreational fishers use to access the small beach below his home. 

“As you can see, it’s a bit of a scramble, unfortunately,” he said apologetically. “But it’s the easiest option,” he argued.

Sure enough though, on this second trip, we went straight to the rusty fence between the concrete breakwater and the cliff, and it was a relatively easy walk/haul to get the kayaks to the water.

We were early – about 7am – but already the day was shaping up to be a warm one.

It was great to get on the water, and straight away we were impressed by the clarity of the water and the white cliffs.

It was already hard to believe that just a few kilometers away over those cliffs were the heaving, apocalyptic steelworks of Muroran.

We made our way past the numerous minor capes as we approached Oinashi Port. 

Just as we were upon the port, a thick mist rolled out over the water, giving everything a sudden eerie atmosphere. The large bridge connecting a fishing dock hung silently in the mist. The coast suddenly took on more depth.

By the time we arrived at Charatsunai Bay, it was time for a long-ish break. If we gave the mist a bit of time, it might burn off too.

So we pulled up at the sheltered boat ramp and set about having a very leisurely break in the sun. Timbah and Ben went for a swim. Haidee practiced her rolls.

One of the main highlights of this section of coast is the Horai-iwa ‘gate’ rock. This enormous rock has a 4-story high archway in the middle of it. With today’s swell, there was a decently exciting surge running through the archway given the right timing. Ben managed to catch it at just the right time, resulting in an unexpected surf.

Horai-mon was the furthest we’d made it the last time we paddled this coast. We took out at Oinaoshi Beach that time.

This time around, we were now on our way to round the main event – Chikyu-misaki. This towering cape was every bit as impressive as I’d imagined it.

Our next stop after Chikyu-misaki was at Tokkarisho-hama Beach, just north of Tokkarisho Cape. This large beach is protected by a few large breakwaters, so would be a good place to escape heavy swells.

By the time we got away from Tokkarisho Beach, the forecast southerly was starting to blow hard. It was at our backs, but it was quartering. With skegs down, we pushed out the last few kilometers to our take out at Itanki-hama beach.

When we arrived at Itanki-hama beach, the swell was up, and we were able to enjoy an hour or so of kayak surfing. That night, we rough slept in the surf zone car park, and made the most of a slightly smaller swell the next morning for some more surfing in the kayaks.

Comments | Queries | Reports

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

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Muroran 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.