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10 days in Hokkaido 2007/9/4 17:34
Hokkaido
Hi everyone,

I am about to start my trip around Japan and can't decide on what to do in Hokkaido. From what I have already planned, I will be able to get there on 5.10 (Friday). I will have to come back to Tokyo at 14.10 (Sunday) before, letfs say, 8pm. Ifll also have a Japan Rail Pass valid till 11.10 (Thursday). Ifm interested only in exploring nature and hiking – no sightseeing or onsening. As I am a photographer, Ifll look for possibilities of taking good pictures as well.

My initial itinerary is as follows:

5.10, Friday:
getting from Aomori to Wakkanai by trains
spending a night in Wakkanai.

6-7.10, Saturday-Sunday:
visiting Rebun-to. Would like to rent a bike there
getting back to Wakkanai to catch a train to Asihakawa (at 18:02)
night in Asihakawa

8-10.10 Monday-Wednesday:
Daisetsuzan park – Sounkyo Gorge, eventually hiking in the nearby hills
Furano and/or Biei
Catching the 18:30 train from Asahikawa to Sapporo

11-13.10 Thursday-Saturday:
renting a car, getting to Shikotsu-Toya park
lake Shikotsu, exploring one of the nearby mountains (Monbetsu, Eniwa, or Tarumae – depends on conditions)
lake Toya, getting to Usu and Jigokudani (depending on how much time will I still have)

14.10 Sunday:
getting to Chitose Airport, flying back to Tokyo.

What do you think about this plan? Is it possible to complete it? Do you have any other suggestions (like changing some of the places to others – more attractive or easier to access)?
by tomi1  

Hokkaido 2007/9/5 17:04
If time permitted, you may wish to explore Rishiri-to and Shiretoko National Park, plenty of scenery for photographing.
Enjoy your trip!
by tju rate this post as useful

Shiretoko park 2007/9/5 17:24
And what should I drop then? I think there is no way that I can add Shiretoko to the list and still fit in 10 days. Which park would you advise to pick - Shiretoko, or Rebun-to/Rishiri-to?
by tomi1 rate this post as useful

Hokkaido 2007/9/5 17:50
Rishiri -to is a day trip, as you may know the island can only be reached by ferry boat from Wakkanai. Two days are sufficient for Shiretoko Peninsula. In my opinion, I would possibly drop Asahikawa. Hope I do not upset your origin plan too much. Have a enjoyable Hokkaido trip!
by tju rate this post as useful

Shiretoko park 2007/9/5 18:06
You mean 2 days excl. getting there, right? That makes 4 days altogether, so I would have to drop both Daisetsuzan and Shikotsu-ko. Is it worth it?
by tomi1 rate this post as useful

Hokkaido 2007/9/6 06:15
Hello Tomi1, your Hokkaido itinerary sounds pretty good as I did many of the same things on my recent trip there in August. I would definitely recommend Shiretoko, and perhaps you can see just the most important parts of it in a single daytrip in your 3-day Daisetsuzan plan. Sounkyo Gorge is often accessed by a bus from Kamikawa Station, but from Kamikawa Station, Shiretoko-Shari station is a good 3-4 hours away by Ltd Exp trains, so you could maybe get to Shiretoko/Utoro and stay the night there in one day, then explore Shiretoko and get back to Asahikawa or some other major city by the end of the night...perhaps!!! That's kind of tight, but I got pretty used to tight schedules when I was there!

Of course, that doesn't leave much room for exploring Daisetsuzan Park, which I considered to be a stunning web of natural scenery everywhere I looked, and Furano & Biei, the former which has great flowers and lavender (I believe you'll be too late for the lavender though) and the latter which is famous for its rolling hills. Hmmm...a possible skip...

I think in your Toya part of the trip, Lake Toya could be done in a day plus overnighting there, and then Noboribetsu, which has the Jigokudani, well actually I did it in just a couple hours...but the trip there requires a small bus ride from the station and I think a few more hours would have been good too. 2 days might be fine for those attractions, ESPECIALLY IF YOU'RE RENTING A CAR! That's the one plus I see for you, you have a car. VERY WISE!!!! Unlike me.

And of course, Rishiri and Rebun are amazing and neither should be skipped if you can help it!
by Jon rate this post as useful

Your Hokkaido Trip 2007/9/6 07:26
Tomi1, hi there!

Well, I went to Hokkaido (by motorcycle) during the summer vacation. I am also into the outdoor/nature and photography stuff (though not very good at the picture taking!). Wakkanai has some great nature, Cape Soya with Sakhalin in view is worth being visited. Also Rishirii island must be nice (at least you can take pictures from the Wakkanai area of the "bonsai-Fuji"). Shiretoko Nature Park a must, even though you might (wiil??) not be able to walk it! Catch a boat which will take you around the cape area! The Furano area might also be worth being seen, as well as the Shakotan peninsula west of Ohtaru. If I can help you with anything, please get back with me or check this site: http://virtulanguage.com/Hokkaido2007.html. You'll find pictures and some comments of my Hokkaido trip. Well, if I don't hear from you, have fun and enjoy a special part of Japan!!
by klaus rate this post as useful

... 2007/9/11 09:05
If you were to visit Shiretoko, I would recommend the following route:

Aomori - Wakkanai (1 night) - Rebun (1 night) - Asahikawa (1 night) - Daisetsuzan/Furano (3 nights) - Shiretoko (3 nights) - Memanbetsu Airport - Tokyo

In other words: return to Tokyo from Memanbetsu Airport near Shiretoko. This would mean that you won't see Sapporo.

It is a decision to be made based on personal preference.

By the way: in the Daisetsuzan NP, I recommend to visit Asahidake Onsen over Sounkyo. I personally think that Asahidake Onsen is more attractive in terms of village and nature:
http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e6775.html

Also for ease of transportation, I recommend to rent a car for Daisetsuzan and Shiretoko National Park.
by Uji rate this post as useful

... 2007/9/11 11:12
Thanks for your input! I was nearly sure I will do it the way Klaus suggested. BTW: Klaus, I tried to e-mail you - didn't you get any mail? But now, I'll have to think about it again.

The problem is I won't be able to rent a car (as I don't have IDP and will probably have to travel alone). What is more, I will have more time to spend in most of the places I wanted to, which is also great. Could you give me any tips on where to look for cheap accommodation in the places you have pointed out?

I'm also thinking if I should visit Furano - will there be anything interesting in the mid October?
by tomi1 rate this post as useful

Biei 2007/9/11 11:41
If you are thinking of Furano, you may like to drop by Biei. You can take extremely beautiful pictures in Biei, in all seasons. It is between Asahikawa and Furano. For photography, Biei should offer more than Furano in October.
by Nana rate this post as useful

Hostels 2007/9/11 14:25
When I was in Hokkaido, I relied almost exclusively on hostels. Here's an amazing link on the YH's run by the international YH company/corporation/i dunno. Be careful as they tend to be located in unusual areas, such as ''the 3rd/4th/5th/etc train station from the major one'', e.g. the 5th train station from Kushiro. Hyperdia.com should help you sort out exactly what trains you need to get there. However, I found this to be not a big enough problem, and I still used hostels from the list (in the link) almost the entire time.

http://www.youthhostel.or.jp/English/area.htm

I don't know when things close, especially up north like in Rebun or Rishiri, but October might be too late...you should probably call just in case. If they're not closed though, Shiretoko, Wakkanai, Rishiri, & Rebun are all wonderful experiences that you should try to catch.

Gosh, you're so lucky! Have fun, Hokkaido is an amazing place!
by Jon rate this post as useful

One more thing 2007/9/11 14:28
About the no car, that sucks Tomi1, but rest assured, JR Hokkaido still does an OK job at covering the big sites, but you will have to take quite a few buses from place to place.

The one place I would stay FAR AWAY FROM without a rental car would be the Lakes Akan, Kushiro, and Mashu area. You MIGHT be able to visit one or two in one day, but the bus connections were infrequent for me, I can't imagine what they're like in October and further on into the winter.

Other than that, I think you'll have no problem but you SHOULD check the train schedules beforehand and plan your trip to coincide with departure times.

Have fun!
by Jon rate this post as useful

... 2007/9/11 16:54
Thanks for all the suggestions - I have almost finished preparing the detailed schedule for the trip.

In general:
5.10: train Aomori - Wakkanai
6.10: Rebun-to
7.10: Rebun - Biei
8.10: exploring Biei
9.10: Biei - Asahidake
10.10: exploring Asahidake
11.10: Asahidake - Shiretoko Iwoabetsu YH (end of my JR pass)
12/13.10: exploring Shiretoko
14.10: plane to Tokyo

Seems quite interesting and doable? I still have some questions:

1. Where to stay at Rebun-to? The only YH that I found there is probably closed in October.
2. Is there any timetable for ferries to/from Rebun?
3. How to get from Asahidake to Shiretoko Iwoabetsu hostel?
4. Some ideas for Shiretoko (in 2 days)?
5. How to get from Shiretoko hostel to the Memanbetsu airport?

I will still try to find some people willing to go with me (preferably, having the driving permit).That will solve questions 3-5. But if you could, please answer them anyway (in case nobody could/wanted to go with me).
by tomi1 rate this post as useful

... 2007/9/11 18:35
Seems quite interesting and doable?

Yes, I think it is doable. And interesting. I consider Rishiri/Rebun, Daisetsuzan and Shiretoko to be Hokkaido's three best national parks.

Where to stay at Rebun-to?

Here is a list of hotels with phone numbers:
http://www.dosanko.co.jp/rebun/access/stay.html

2. Is there any timetable for ferries to/from Rebun?

In Japanese:
http://www.kaiferry.co.jp/risiri/timetable/index.html

Wakkanai to Rebun:
06:50 - 08:45
07:50 - 10:30 (via Rishiri)
11:10 - 13:05
14:30 - 16:25

Rebun to Wakkanai:
09:05 - 11:00
11:20 - 14:00 (via Rishiri)
15:10 - 17:05
16:45 - 18:40

How to get from Asahidake to Shiretoko Iwoabetsu hostel?

Asahidake - (bus) - Asahikawa - (train) - Abashiri - (bus/train) - Shiretoko

It is a very time-consuming trip, and it might not actually be possible within one day.

I recommend to rent a car to explore Daisetsuzan/Furano (pick up and drop off in Asahikawa) and Shiretoko (pick up in Abashiri, drop off at Memanbetsu Airport). And use a train to get from Asahikawa to Abashiri.

Alternatively, pick up a car in Asahikawa and also use it all the way until dropping it off at Memanbetsu Airport. You will have to pay a drop off fee.

Without private transportation you would be losing much time in both national parks. Furano and Biei are also difficult to get around by public transportation.

Some ideas for Shiretoko (in 2 days)?

See here:
http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e6850.html

How to get from Shiretoko hostel to the Memanbetsu airport?

There are infrequent buses. Again, a rental car would make this much easier. Here are some bus schedules and basic information:
http://www.town.shari.hokkaido.jp/shiretoko/traffic/bus_sum.htm
http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e6854.html

And here is a link to the cheapest car rental company which I am aware of:
http://www.japan-guide.com/ad/coocom2.html
by Uji rate this post as useful

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