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Driving eastern Hokkaido 2019/5/3 07:51
Hi,
I wanted to see the Akan lakes while in Hokkaido. I will probably rent a car in the Abashiri or Kushiro area. Might as well take a visit to Shiretoko peninsula if time allows for it.

What are the roads and hazards like in that part of Japan? I have driven in Japan a few times before.

Is the traffic very intense in summer? What about wild animals on the roads?

Considering distances, would three days be enough to cover some of the Akan lakes and Shiretoko?

I am not sure if I will fly or take train into Abashiri or Kushiro, depending on where I end up before arrival.
by Gus (guest)  

Re: Driving eastern Hokkaido 2019/5/3 13:20

I was in the areas last summer, only once encountered a bear wandering on the road on the way to Kamuiwakka hot waterfall.
Hokkaido's roads are of high standard. Lake Akan to Shiretoko are not really that far. Three days are not really a lot of time to explore the areas; however, if you plan carefully, you could visit many places.
by .. (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Driving eastern Hokkaido 2019/5/3 17:55
I would say that driving in Hokkaido is easier than elsewhere in Japan as the roads are generally more ample and often VERY straight.

I went once in July (including in Shiretoko area) and traffic was not a problem.

Enjoy your trip to Hokkaido!
by LikeBike (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Driving eastern Hokkaido 2019/5/3 18:34
The biggest problem with driving in Hokkaido is the slow speed limit on those wonderfully big, wide roads. It doesn't make much sense to go so slowly, which is why the locals don't seem to.... Use your own judgement about driving conditions. Enjoy!
by Sal1980 rate this post as useful

Re: Driving eastern Hokkaido 2019/5/3 20:10
Well, we have quite the same problem here, and it keeps the accident rate go sky high at times... Fortunately the death toll is not that high.

What kind of troubles does local drivers bring? Unsafe take-overs? Crossing into wrong lane?

Is there anything I as a tourist should be keeping a lookout for?

I would probably try to keep to the speed limit as I don't know the area, and considering animals and so. (I nearly hit two elks crossing the road up here last year, and those accidents are often lethal...)
by Gus (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Driving eastern Hokkaido 2019/5/3 21:28
I've visited Hokkaido a couple of times, but only driven on the island twice. My biggest trip was Wakkanai up north down to Sapporo via Noboribetsu.

The roads are reasonably good in Hokkaido but most major roads tend to only be one lane both ways.

In summer, you will see a beautiful straight road which is often 50 of 70 km/h and you often won't see other cards for significant periods of time. This is why almost everyone (specifically in Hokkaido) travels above the speed limit by normally around 10-20 km/h. The biggest problem will be the local drivers getting annoyed with you if you travel at the speed limit.

Some other things to consider is there is often long distances between any ammenities, specifically up north and on the east of the island. That means to make sure you always have a 1/3 of a tank of gas, visit the toilet and buying food if your traveling on the east coast.

One thing I found helpful is to try and not aim to travel more than 400 kilometers a day if I also intend to try and do other things during the day. Completing most of the major driving during daytime I think is also helpful when it comes into consideration with hitting animals. As normal - other (specifically locals) will know more than I
by mfedley rate this post as useful

Re: Driving eastern Hokkaido 2019/5/4 02:14
Local drivers often get annoyed at me here as well. I think I drove maybe 5-10 km past limit when in Japan last time, but I tried to pull over a lot of times to let others pass.

I don't want to drive faster than I can manage until I get used to the roads. What's the best way of making the drive as smooth as possible for everyone and avoiding accidents?


An idea is to start from Abashiri, or maybe Shiretoko Shari if there is a rental outlet there. Heading down to Akan Lakes, or up to Shiretoko and the other way around on a second day.

Not sure if the southeastern peninsula is worth seeing though.

I will probably explore the Daisetsuzan but I will probably go by public transport.
by Gus (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Driving eastern Hokkaido 2019/5/4 11:31
You are aware that Daisatsuzan is basically on the way back to Sapporo right from the east coast? Hire a car for the extra time and drive there on the way there or back to save time and money. I've traveled to that national park both by bus and car. Bus travel requires a lot of pre-planning with times and be aware of weather as it can change very quickly which can be dangerous in such a rural environment.

You also mentioned that you don't know if there is much in the South? This is where some of the best onsens are, the most spectacular volcanics on the island which are easily accessible and the most culture. I find that Noboribetsu has the best onsen water in the country.

Do you mind if I ask when you are traveling as if you are visiting Hokkaido in July/August I would say that Rishiri + Rebun Island up North is probably my natural highlight of Hokkaido. The wildflowers and walks are some of the best in Japan - period.
by mfedley rate this post as useful

Re: Driving eastern Hokkaido 2019/5/4 15:57


Is there anything I as a tourist should be keeping a lookout for?

Beware of other tourists! They are more likely to cause car accidents than locals.
by . (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Driving eastern Hokkaido 2019/5/4 20:00
Many years ago, first time driving in Hokkaido, unbearable as it was, I did follow the local speed rules. Within hours I noticed virtually everybody overtook me. Since, I follow the flow of the traffic , not the rule any more.
by . (guest) rate this post as useful

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