Hokkaido, European Side of Japan Part 1

That day Wina offered me to join her friend to a summer break trip in Hokkaido. I am not usually taking a risk going travel with people I barely know, but who can refuse an offer to Hokkaido? So I decided to say yes. And I don't regret any single second of it. 

I stayed in Hokkaido for a week. Since Hokkaido is a big island, to give you an overview I put my itinerary and my map here. I'll write in three or four separated blog posts so hopefully it won't overwhelm anyone reading my post.

Itinerary
Day 1: Arrived at CTS, stay at Honbetsu
Day 2: Wakkanai city, stay at Asahikawa city
Day 3: Asahiyama zoo, Kurodake ropeway, stay at Honbetsu
Day 4: Stay at Honbetsu
Day 5: Abashiri & Lake Akan, stay at Honbetsu
Day 6: Sapporo, stay at Sapporo
Day 7: Leaving Hokkaido to KIX

Map

Day 1: Arrived at CTS, stay at Honbetsu
I arrived at New Chitose airport later than the expected. Maria, Wina's friend who arrived earlier, and our host, Hayashi-san, had been waiting for us. On this trip, we were staying at Hayashi-san house in Honbetsu. So the background is: Hayashi-san was hosting for Maria's mom 20 years ago and now he wants to meet Maria who currently studies in Japan. He invited her to Hokkaido and asked her to bring friends when she comes. Wait - 20 years ago? Now you might wonder how old Hayashi-san is. Here's a picture of us with him and his wife and his sister in law.

From left to right: me, Hayashi-san sister in law, Hayashi-san wife, Hayashi-san, Maria
80 years old, he is. Yet he still in a good health with a good vision and a good spirit! This is his house where we spent nights. It is actually not his house - it is a hostel for a summer camp that Hayashi-san usually host. The actual Hayashi-san house is right next to the hostel.


Hayashi-san's hostel
Day 2: Wakkanai, The northernmost point of Japan
Before coming to Hokkaido, I made a list of places that I want to visit and shared it to Maria. Of all places that I wanted to go, I thought Wakkanai is an impossible one since it's located far in the northern part of the island. But apparently, nothing is impossible for Hayashi-san. He drove us for 6 hours, 350 km away from Honbetsu to Wakkanai.



On our way, we were mesmerized by Hokkaido's landscape. This is a true farm land, with endless meadow and lots of cows around. Hokkaido also has a lot of tunnels, as the road was built between mountains. In addition, they have warning signs for bears everywhere. Oh, this is what I call true nature.

We arrived at Wakkanai around lunch time. After lunch, we arrived at Cape Soya - the northernmost point of Japan.  I was very happy to reach this place. Checkpoint!




Despite the rain, we decided to explore the area. Turns out, Cape Soya not only has one monument, but there are lots of others. I might say this is a historical park. The first monument we found is a statue of Rinzo Mamiya, a Japanese explorer, near the Cape Soya monument. He said to be the one who confirms the existence of Sakhalin island, an island across the Cape Soya that is a part of Russia. Even though it was a cloudy day, we could see the island from afar.



Rinzo Mamiya
Climbing to the top of the park, we found "Tower of Prayer",  a Korean Airline Flights 007 Memorial monument. It was built to remember the tragedy of shooting down a commercial flight by soviet air force missiles. The place apparently also a witness of the sank of Japanese and US navy during World War II. There is a peace memorial built that dedicate to commemorate the event and to remind people to not destroy the friendship that they enjoy today.


Tower of Prayer 
Peace Memorial for Japanese and US navy
Cape Soya souvenir shop on the top of the hill
Having explored the historical park for about two hours, we decided to left. It's already late afternoon when Hayashi-san decide to stopped by his friend's house in the middle of our way back. His friend is a farmer with two cute kids, and one of them had his birthday that day. We were served with cakes and a glass of fresh milk - the one without any preservatives, straightly from the farm.


Fresh milk!
Hayashi-san explained that nowadays most of the cows in Hokkaido's farm are tied inside a ranch - especially those who belongs to commercial factories. Rumors said that these tied cows were fed by corn instead of grass. Here in Hayashi-san's farm, cows are free to walk around and eat grass. At the farm I also found a biogas plant. On this trip I found that most of Hokkaido's farm is equipped with a biogas plant to manage cow's dung.
Sunset and biogas plant
We left Hayashi-san friend's house at sunset and continue our trip to Asahikawa city, 245 km from Wakkanai. Here, we rent a room in Toyoko Inn Hotel for a night. Today we spent half of the day inside the car, as we traveled more than 500km. We will continue our trip tomorrow to a zoo nearby to meet a polar bear! :)

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