It was a pretty big commitment to drive all the way from Nemuro to Monbetsu to paddle the Shokotsu River. We were already out east in Hokkaido in Nemuro, ticking off some gorgeous wetland canoe routes. We figured since we were out this way, we’d check out Shokotsu River too, due to it’s reputation as a pristine must-paddle river. It seemed a good iead at the time of planning, and we arranged to meet Greg and Mari there too.
It wasn’t until we’d actually made the plans that we sat down and figured out how far it was from Nemuro. Google said 3.5 hours.
Oh well. It had to be done. We were fatigued from the previous five days of paddling, but when the guidebook promises some of the most picturesque paddling in Hokkaido, one must go to find out the truth!
We met Mari and Greg at the campground in Takinoue. It was getting late by the time we’d scouted all the possible put-in/take-out points, so we had dinner at the Takinoue Hotel Keikoku onsen.
The next day, we were on the water at 8:30am. Just as well too – it would end up being a long but enjoyable day on the water.
The only real crux of the route was the curvy rapids just upstream from the Kaimei-bashi Bridge. Pushing into the rock wall, we opted to pull into an eddy just before the bend, and ferry canoes to prime position before shooting to the right. Greg and Mari mistimed things a bit and ended up going down the chute backwards. Haidee and I messed up our ferry angle a bit and got pushed around a bit sooner than we’d expected, but made it down without issues.
There was one more rapid further up that we scouted too – a well-lodged tree was in the middle of the rapid, requiring some careful route choice.
Our lunch spot was next to a hopelessly gorgeous waterfall, surrounded by green. It was quite possibly the most picturesque paddling we’d done in Hokkaido.
After lunch, it was just a matter of grinding it out the rest of the way to the take-out, some 20km away downstream. Part way through we struggled a little with low water over bedrock, but some careful and quick maneuvering got us through with only a few extra scratches added to the bottom of the canoe.
Even further down the river, I felt distinct New Zealand river vibes. Gravelly, braided-river vibes. I almost felt homesick.
In fitting Hokkaido summer manner, we finished the trip off with some fresh watermelon on the riverside.
Shokotsu River – now well at the top of our list of favourite rivers to paddle in Hokkaido.