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Going around Hokkaido (9) Cape Hinode to Ryugudai Observatory: I felt relaxed by seeing seals in the town of drift ice and crabs


Going around the coastline of Hokkaido! 

This is the ninth article of the series. 
In this article, I will proceed to Ryugudai Observatory by the side of Lake Saroma in Yubetsu, after seeing Cape Hinode in Oumu-Cho, the cape sticks out to the Sea of Okhotsk.

You can see super cute seals very close in Monbetsu City. I want to meet them again!


Table of Contents

- About the series: Going around Hokkaido
- About the route: From Cape Hinode Lookout La Luna in Oumu-Cho to Ryugudai Observatory in Yubetsu-Cho
- Am I able to capture the best shot? Cape Hinode Lookout La Luna
- Cape Hinode Lookout La Luna to Tomioka Parking: I enjoyed the landscape by the ocean
- Tomioka Parking to Kaiyo Park: The base of drift ice tourism was attractive in other seasons, too
- Scary sturgeons and cute seals
- Okhotsk Tower to Ryugudai Observatory: Watery sceneries on the left, towards Lake Saroma

アザラシカワイイ!つぶらな瞳に一目惚れ♪▲Ohhhh super cute! I fell in love with its shiny eyes.


About the series: Going around Hokkaido

This is a part of the series of articles to introduce my journey to go around Hokkaido. I will introduce my relaxing trip about visiting cities and towns, enjoying beautiful views, having delicious foods, and encountering to fascinating people.

Below are the basic rules about the project:
- Basically, drive only National Routes or Hokkaido Roads along coastlines.
- I can use municipal roads near central towns, promontories, etc. However, I try not to use community roads and private roads. 
- I only drive the mainland of Hokkaido. (I’m sorry to those live in islands!)
- I drive from the sunrise to the sunset to enjoy the views.
- I divide my journey into a few times according to the coverage schedule.


About the route: From Ryugudai Observatory in Yubetsu-Cho to Cape Hinode Lookout La Luna in Oumu-Cho

今回のルートはこちら(Google My Maps)▲The route of this article (Google My Maps) 

Cape Hinode Lookout La Luna in Oumu-Cho to Ryugudai Observatory in Yubetsu-Cho
Mileage: Approx. 85 kilometers (Except the detour)
The time required: Approx. 2 hour 10 mins (except breaks, time to stop at sightseeing spots, and the detour)

Check the detailed map from the link below! 
Going around Hokkaido

You can find the previous article of the series here: 
Going around Hokkaido (8) Kitami Kamui Misaki Park to Cape Hinode: Enjoy sea urchin and scallop from Esashi 


Am I able to capture the best shot? Cape Hinode Lookout La Luna

If you zoom out the map of Hokkaido, the coastline of the Sea of Okhotsk seem flat. If you were to draw a map, you might simply draw a curved line. 

However, the coastline actually has countless big and small capes, and some of them are turned into view spots.

The starting point of this article is one of them. Cape Hinode in Sawaki District of Oumu-Cho. 

オホーツク海に突き出た日の出岬(写真提供:雄武町)▲Cape Hinode sticks out to the Sea of Okhotsk. (Oumu-Cho provided the picture) 

There are glass-built lookout “Cape Hinode Lookout La Luna,” campsite, and an onsen facility in Cape Hinode. 

キャンプ場から眺めた岬の先端方面▲The tip of cape seen from the campsite. 

I recommend stopping by the lookout! 
You can not only get the view of the ocean, of course, but also far, far, away from the coastline of the Sea of Okhotsk. 

訪れた日はちょっと雲や霞が多かったのですが…、今まで走ってきた枝幸町方面を遠望▲The weather was not too nice with hazes and clouds on the day I visited. I saw the direction of Esashi-Cho, where I came from. 

これから進む興部町や紋別市方面はこんな様子▲The direction of Okoppe-Cho and Monbetsu City, where I am heading, looks like this. 

Cape Hinode Lookout La Luna is not there to only enjoy the view from the observatory. The building itself looks photogenic, so it turns to a great object of shooting to professional and amateur photographers. 

Many pieces making this lookout as an object gets nominated for awards in the photography contest hosted by Oumu-Cho Tourism Association every year. 

You will be able to capture a striking picture if you visit in different time and seasons. 

nobuカワシマが訪れた時のベストショットはこちら。うーむ、時間や場所をもっと吟味して撮りたかった…▲My best shot when I visited was this. Hmmm, I needed to consider the time and place more carefully. 

夜空の星とともに。絵になりますね!(写真提供:雄武町)▲The lookout with the starry sky. It’s very photogenic, isn’t it? (Oumu-Cho provided the picture) 

夜明けの風景、キレイすぎる!(写真提供:雄武町)▲The scenery in the dawn. How beautiful! (Oumu-Cho provided the picture) 

無彩色の冬景色も撮り方・狙い方次第で面白そう(写真提供:雄武町)▲The lookout in winter without any colors can be interesting if you put effort into figuring out the composition and how to capture. (Oumu-Cho provided the picture)

What kind of picture would you like to take here? 


Cape Hinode Lookout La Luna to Tomioka Parking: I enjoyed the landscape by the ocean

Cape Hinode Lookout La Luna to Tomioka Parking
Mileage: Approx. 25 kilometers
The time required: Approx. 40 mins

Well, let’s back to the journey. 

I left the lookout, drove through the residential area of the Sawaki District, then turned left at the National Route 238 towards the direction of Okoppe-cho. 

I could notice the town of Okoppe-Cho after driving for about 10 mins. I crossed the bridge and turned left from the National Route just before entering into the town. I tried to go as far as I can to get close to the coastline. 

As I passed houses and harbor facilities, the road became narrow from some point. 

大型車が行き交う国道とは違い、のんびり開放的な気分でドライブを満喫♪▲I enjoyed slow and relax drive different from National Routes with large vehicles. 

After driving along the coastline for a few minutes, I came back to the National Route again. 

As I kept driving towards Monbetsu City, I found something along the National Route! Those who like trains, ruins, histories, might already have sensed what that was. 

川にかかる古びた鉄橋。さて、これは!?▲An old ruin of iron bridge on a river. What is it? 

I guess it’s the iron bridge ruin of Japan National Railway’s Nayoro Honsen Line which terminated in 1989. I was impressed that it’s still there after thirty years, even though it’s not a tourist facility that is preserved for observation. 

I think most people would not feel anything by looking at this, but to me, it’s an interesting place to stop. 

近くまで見に行けます。危ないのでこの先はもちろん立入禁止▲You can walk towards a very close point. You can’t go any further from here, of course, because it’s dangerous. 

I turned left when I entered the Saruru District in Monbetsu City from Okoppe-Cho. I went away from the National Route again and stopped at Saruru Beach for a while. 

オホーツク海沿岸では珍しい海水浴場▲Finding a beach along the Sea of Okhotsk is quite rare. 

The day I visited was just after the Obon Holidays. It seems like it was the last day of operation this summer. 

I guess other regions than Hokkaido is still enjoying mid-summer. We feel like autumn after the Obon Holidays every year. I felt the shortness of summer from this beach. 

I left the beach and took off to the downtown of Monbetsu. Soon after that, I encountered heavy rain. I could not see well even I moved the windshield wipers entirely. I parked the car to Tomioka Parking, a parking area along the National Route and wait for the rain to stop. 

しばらくして雨がやむと夕景が広がりました。これはこれでなかなかよい眺め♪▲A beautiful landscape with sunset appeared after a while, and the rain stopped. It was quite a beautiful view.

n this project, I have a rule that I drive only during the sun is up, so I finished the journey for the day. I decided to stay in Monbetsu City and start again from this parking area. 


Tomioka Parking to Kaiyo Park: The base of drift ice tourism was attractive in other seasons, too

Tomioka Parking to Kaiyo Park
Mileage: Approx. 18 kilometers
The time required: Approx. 30 mins

After driving three to four minutes toward Monbetsu City, there is “Omusaro Primeval Flower Garden” on the left. 

春から秋まで散策路を歩いて見学することができます▲You can walk on the promenades to take a look at the garden from spring to autumn. 

ハマナスやエゾスカシユリなどの草花が咲き誇ります▲There are many flowers and plants such as Hamanasu (Japanese rose)  and Siberian lilies, 

原生花園の一角には海を見渡せる流氷岬があります。名前のとおり冬は流氷見学の名スポットです▲There is Cape Ryuhyo in the corner of Primeval Flower Garden where you can get the view of the ocean. As the name suggests, it becomes a famous lookout to see drift ice in winter. 

I took a nice morning walk in the Primeval Flower Garden with many flowers! I felt like my gorgeous day had just started. 

After leaving Omusaro Primeval Flower Garden, I took the road along the coastline in Monbetsu downtown, away from the National Route again. I arrived at Kaiyo Park, the next destination, after passing the central town with houses, shops, and tall buildings. 


Scary sturgeons and cute seals

There is the boarding point of the “drift ice-breaking ship Gariko-Gou,” which is the most famous tourist destination to see drift ice, “Ice and Ocean Observation Tower Okhotsk Tower,” “Okhotsk Tokkari Center” and “Seal Sea Paradise” where you can enjoy interacting seals, etc., in Kaiyo Park.

港に係留されているガリンコ号▲Gariko-Gou is being moored at the pier. 

公園内には初代ガリンコ号が保存展示されています。巨大なスクリューで流氷をガリガリ割りながら前へ進みます▲Garinko-Gou from the first generation is kept and exhibited in the park. It goes as it breaks drift ice with huge screws. 

オホーツクタワーは、防波堤の先の海中にそびえ立つタワー▲Okhotsk Tower is the tower built in the ocean, further than the pier. 

In winter, you can get the view of the ocean with drift ice from the observation floor on the third floor. You can also see drift ice underwater through the glass windows from the basement floor. 

It’s summer, so there is no drift ice, but you can still enjoy the views and learn about marine animals in the aquarium on the basement floor. 

海底階にはなぜかガチャガチャが!?▲I found a capsule toy for some reason. 

カプセルの中にはチョウザメのエサが入っています▲There are foods for sturgeons inside the case. 

チョウザメにえさやり体験。チョウザメが勢いよくワーッと群がってきました!!▲I tried feeding sturgeons. Many sturgeons came towards me instantly! 

They came really close, and I was a bit scared. 

After that, I tried feeding seals at “Seal Sea Paradise”! 

There are two facilities relating to seals here. 

“Okhotsk Tokkari Center” aims to take in and cure seals got strangled in fishing nets or found injured in the near sea, and bring them back to the ocean. 
On the other hand, tourists can enjoy feeding seals, etc., in “Seal Sea Paradise.” 

2つある施設のうち、個人客が身近にアザラシと触れ合えるのが、アザラシシーパラダイス▲Seal Sea Paradise is the one tourists can see and interact with seals. 

They set certain times in the day which tourists can enjoy giving foods to seals. First, breeding staffs show an example. 

さすが!気持ちが通じ合うようで、にこやかに触れ合います▲Wow! It seems like they understand each other.  

エサやりのほか、輪投げやポーズなど、なかなかお見事!▲Breeding staffs also showed me a few poses and ring toss performance, adding to feeding. The seal was good at all of them!  

順番にエサやり体験やポーズの指示出しなどを楽しめます▲You can try to feed a seal and command some poses. 

Awww, seals were super cute. It was too cute that I almost hugged it. I felt really warm and healed. 

You may find these articles useful:
- Monbetsu Drift Ice Adventure 6 – Drift Ice Cruise “Garinko No. 2”
- Monbetsu Drift Ice Adventure 4 – “Okhotsk Tower” A look at the drift ice we’ve all been waiting for!!
- Monbetsu Drift Ice Adventure 3 – Okhotsk Tokkari Center


Okhotsk Tower to Ryugudai Observatory: Watery sceneries on the left, towards Lake 

Okhotsk Tower to Ryugudai Observatory
Mileage: Approx. 24 kilometers
The time required: Approx. 60 mins

I left Monbetsu City and started to drive towards Yubetsu-Cho, the town next to Monbetsu. 

People take memorial pictures in front of this famous crab monument as a memory of visiting Monbetsu City. You can reach here in about one to two mins by car from Kaiyo Park. 

はい、カ~ニ!▲Say crab! 

I kept driving the National Route. I got away from the coastline and landscape with grass fields, and farms continued for a while on both sides. 

Now I noticed, I had seen grass fields from the car but not farms after reaching the northern part from Ororon Line. 

It seems like the area changed to upland cropping area as I went down south from the northern Hokkaido. 

湧別町内に入ると、広々とした畑が左右に広がるようになりました▲Vast farms started to appear on both sides as I entered to Yubetsu-Cho. 

I left the National Route again and took the road along the coastline again. I passed downtown of Yubetsu-Cho and port area, then kept driving in upland cropping areas towards Lake Saroma. 

Lake Saroma is a brackish lake connected to the Sea of Okhotsk. 
There is a long narrow land called spit between the lake and the sea. 

海と湖に挟まれた細い陸地へ向かい、直進。この先は龍宮街道と呼ばれています▲I went straight to the long narrow land between the lake and the sea. This road is called Ryugu Kaido from here. 

The goal of today is the tip of spit on the side of Yubetsu-Cho. I will go as far as I can. 

右手にサロマ湖が見えてきました。左手は森林に遮られて見えませんが、海があるはず!▲I found Lake Saroma on the right! I could not get the view on the left as there were forests, but I guess there is the ocean! 

The lake appeared and disappeared beyond trees. After passing the fishing port, there was the entrance of Sanrihama Campsite, and it was the endpoint. It seems like only visitors of campsites and workers for port construction, so I ended my journey here. 
There is Ryugudai Observatory here where you can get the panoramic view of Lake Saroma and the Sea of Okhotsk. 

In the next article, I will go to Wakka Primeval Flower Garden in Kitami-City and the spit on the other side of Lake Saroma after enjoyed the view from Ryugudai Observatory.
I will try as much I can to drive around the vast Lake Saroma which is 92 kilometers around! 
  • Going around Hokkaido (9) Cape Hinode to Ryugudai Observatory: I felt relaxed by seeing seals in the town of drift ice and crabs