Japan Hokkaido Road Trip: July 2017

We wanted to do a road trip that includes some hiking and flower viewing, so we choose Hokkaido, Japan which is famous for its hiking trails and flower farms during the summer.

Our actual driving trip was 7 days, excluding 2 days of traveling to get in and out of Hokkaido from Singapore. We had planned our trip to be slightly easy going as we would like to get to know the area which we are visiting a little more.

Day 1: Chitose - Lake Shikotsu - Lake Toya
Picked up our car, stopped over at Lake Shikotsu for a stretch and lunch then went for a hike at Mount Tarumae. After the hike drove to Lake Toya for a night's rest.



Day 2: Lake Toya sight-seeing
In the morning we did a walk about along Lake Toya and the little town surrounding it known as Toyako-onsen.


After that we went to the Toyako Visitor Centre/ Science Centre and did the Kompariyama Trail behind it. If you are intending to do the Kompirayama Trail, we recommend reading this blog which was written in 2014 that provides a detailed information on what to expect.

A more recent update which we can add to it is that, the trail after the blue crater towards Nishiyama Parking Lot has been taken over almost completely by vegetation and we couldn't spot the abandon factory nor the buildings and vehicles anymore. We did only explored the trail head of Nishiyama Crate Trail until the point of the food stand and head back to catch the hourly bus back to Toyoko-onsen for a lunch bite. After lunch we took our car and drove to the abandon kindergarten at the end of the Nishiyama Crate Trail. The kindergarten is still prominent and exhumes an eerie atmosphere like the other buildings along Kompariyama Trail.


After the hike, we did a stopover at Lake Hill Farm which is famous for their soft-serve. We also bought some cheese and they taste absolutely beautiful!



At night, we joined the cruise to watch fireworks which is in display every evening during their summer months from May to October.


Useful information for Lake Toya:
Hotels around Lake Toya typically offer room packages that include breakfast and dinner. The reason behind it is because restaurants in Toyako-onsen only opens during what we would call stopover period for tourists on road trip from 11:00am to 3:00pm. We didn't know better and had opted for no breakfast and dinner for our hotel stay which put us in pretty much distress as we went around looking for food early in the morning and late in the afternoon after our long hike. We ended up buying meals from Seico mart and 7-eleven for breakfast and lunch then a dine-in at the hotel for dinner.

Day 3: Lake Toya - Noboribetsu-onsen
We took the route that drive pass Sobetsu which is a village known for fruit farming. Farms at Sobetsu allow tourists to enter their farms to hand pick the fruits and eat them fresh till your heart content with an admission fee for unlimited time inside their farms. We didn't do that but instead bought 4-baskets of strawberry in a steal away price which served as our breakfast.


We arrived Noboribetsu-onsen around noon time and had soba for lunch in Sobadokorofukan. After that, we went to Jigokudani Hell Valley which is just a few minutes away from the main street. There are many walking trails inside Jigokudani Hell Valley. We spent an entire afternoon exploring the many walking trails in that area.



Day 4: Noboribetsu-onsen - Furano
It was an especially long drive today so we left slightly early. We took the Hokkaido Express Way and stopover at Kitahiroshima Mitsui Outlet Park to stretch our legs, do some shopping and grab our lunch. We got to Furano just at the right time for check-in. So after leaving our bags in the hotel, we went to the cheese factory to get the famous furano milk and tried a soft-serve from their cafe.


After that, we went to Furano town and had dinner at Masaya. We ordered the Furano Omu Curry which is a local delicacy in town. The trip down to get this curry is really worth it. Just thinking about it again is making us salivate!


Last stop for today is Ningle Terrace which is basically few rows of stores uniquely setup inside the jungle near New Furano Prince Hotel. There's also some short walking trails around this area. However we didn't wander off too far as it was getting late.


Day 5: Furano - Sounkyo-onsen
Today's highlight was flower viewing! We did checked out from our hotel and stopover at various flower farms before driving straight to our next destination. Following were the few flower farms which we have visited according to sequence:

Lavender East, a farm that only plants lavender. Try their Lavender soft-serve if you are there!


Saika-no-Sato, a farm located at Nakafurano. Flower wasn't blooming at the time we visited but scenery was still pretty.



Farm Tomita, by far the most crowded farm we been to with various walk-able segments of land planted with flowers. We spent almost 2 hours there including lunch. Tried their melon and sweet corn which is really juicy and succulent!

Flower Land, a farm outside of Kamifurano that offers tractor rides to its visitor with a price. You'll understand why when you are there. The farm is so vast! We did walked till what seems like the middle of the farm to take these photos however, seems like there's still a distance to go till we reach the end of the farm.

After Flower Land, we drove straight to Sounkyo-onsen which is a small onsen town in Kamikawa.

Useful information for flower viewing in Hokkaido:
Flower farms in Hokkaido are mostly found in Furano and Biei. These are rural towns with limited public transportation and many of the farms are located out from walking distance. Renting a car will provide more flexibility to travel when visiting the farms. During our road trip, only parking at Farm Tomita was abit scarce.

Day 6: Sounkyo-onsen sight-seeing


The reason we had Sounkyo-onsen in our itinerary was because we had plan to hike up to Mount Kurodake which peaks at 1984m and is one of the more easily accessible peaks in Daisetsuzan National Park. So we went to the Sounkyo Visitor Center to find out more about the hike. However, what we found out instead on that day was the trail to the peak was not safe for hiking as there were still thick layer of ice covering the trail. It was a disappointment at first, but on the park ranger's recommendation we went ahead and did the less popular trail from the 5th station to the 7th station which is a trail less travelled since the operation of the ropeway.


There were only us on that trail. We hiked pass some ice block along the way (white spots in photo above) however it was nothing too dangerous. Took us about 40mins to get to 7th station. There we bought our return ropeway ticket back to the base.

After lunch, we went to another trail also recommended by the park ranger. It is called the Momijidani Trail that leads to the the Momijidaki waterfall. It was an easy 40mins hike (one way) and a good filler for the day.



Day 7: Sounkyo-onsen - Asahikawa
Last day of our road trip and we returned our car earlier than scheduled which entitled us to a rebate from the car company. Bumped around in the city of Asahikawa on foot but found nothing really interesting there and wished we were still somewhere out in the rural of Hokkaido. Highlight while at Asahikawa would be we found the original shop for Baikohken Ramen which has branches all over Singapore, Taiwan and probably elsewhere.



Japan Hokkaido road trip conclusion and useful information:
It was relatively easy to book a car and drive in Japan. We got our car from ToCoo!. The build-in GPS that came along with our rented car was able to guide us to most of the places where we wanted to go. There were however two instances where we did have to use google maps to guide us on our trip. Therefore consider getting unlimited wifi, just in case. You'll need international driving license to drive in Japan and like any other country, car has to be returned with a full tank.

Stupidgale

Stupidgale is a Sino-Kadazan office nerd during the day and leisure blogger by night. She enjoys writting about everything under the sun and is currently living in Singapore with her family (including teddygirl the corgi).

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