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Going around Hokkaido (12) Ryuhyo-kaido Abashiri to Road to the Sky: To the scenic road through the lake with swans and uncrewed stations

Going around the coastline of Hokkaido! In the 12th article, I will leave Abashiri City and head to Shari-Cho, the base of sightseeing in Shiretoko, via Koshimizu-Cho.

I stopped by nostalgic wooden built uncrewed stations such as Kitahama Station and Yamubetsu Station as I see Lake Tofutsu near the Sea of Okhotsk, where swans visit. Today’s final destination, “Road to the Sky” is a very Hokkaido-like scenic road.

Table of Contents

- About the series: Going around Hokkaido
- About the route: From Michi No Eki Ryuhyo-kaido Abashiri in Abashiri City to Road to the Sky in Shari-Cho
- Michi No Eki Ryuhyo-kaido Abashiri to Lake Tofutsu: Spend a few moments at a wooden built uncrewed station
- Lake Tofutsu to Furetoi Observatory in Hamakoshimizu: Enjoyed the lake with swans and Koshimizu Wildflower Park
- Furetoi Observatory in Hamakoshimizu to Road to the Sky: This is Hokkaido! Enjoyed delicious ramen and visited a scenic place

野鳥が多数飛来する濤沸湖。白鳥に出会えるかな!?▲Many wild birds visit Lake Tofutsu. Will you be able to encounter swans? 


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 Michi No Eki Ryuhyo-kaido Abashiri in Abashiri City to Road to the Sky in Shari-Cho

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

From Michi No Eki Ryuhyo-kaido Abashiri in Abashiri City to Road to the Sky in Shari-Cho
Mileage: Approx. 56 kilometers
The time required: Approx. 1 hour 5 mins (except breaks, time to stop at sightseeing spots, and the detour)

Check the detailed map from the link below! 
Going around Hokkaido (11) - 
Going around Hokkaido (1) - (10)

You can find the previous article of the series here: 
Going around Hokkaido (11) Wakka Primeval Flower Garden to Ryuhyo-kaido Abashiri: Drive around Lake Notoro to Cape Notoro

ぐるり北海道一周、ここまで通りました!(Google My Maps)▲Going around Hokkaido has come this much! (Google My Maps) 


Michi No Eki Ryuhyo-kaido Abashiri to Lake Tofutsu: Spend a few moments at a wooden built uncrewed station

Michi No Eki Ryuhyo-kaido Abashiri to Lake Tofutsu
Mileage: Approx. 13 kilometers
The time required: Approx. 15 mins

今回のスタート地点は、網走側の河口付近にある「道の駅 流氷街道網走」▲The starting point this time is “Michi No Eki Ryuhyo-kaido Abashiri” which is located near the mouth of the river on the Abashiri side.

Let’s leave Michi No Eki and head to Shiretoko! I will first head to Lake Tofutsu, where many wild birds such as swans visit. 

I kept driving the National Route no. 244 for a while as I see the Sea of Okhotsk on my left. 

国道沿いにある駐車スペースで一時停止。遠くに見える知床連山の麓へ向かいます▲I stopped for a while at the parking along the National Route. I will head to the foot of Shiretoko Mountain Range far away. 

There are many scenic landscapes such as the Sea of Okhotsk, Lake Tofutsu, wildflower park, etc., on the way to Shari-Cho from Abashiri City. Also, there are many popular uncrewed stations of JR Senmo Honsen which generally runs along with the National Route. 

I watched the ocean for a while from the parking in Masuura district. Then I stopped by JR Senmo Honsen’s Mokoto Station, which was on the left, after driving for a few minutes. 

ひと昔前の映画やドラマに出てきそうな木造駅舎の藻琴駅▲Mokoto Station is a wooden built station which looks like ones in old movies and TV dramas. 

It looks like a movie set, but it is used as a station until now. The nostalgic atmosphere feels excellent. 

藻琴駅の駅舎内には、かつての駅事務所を活用した喫茶店が入っています▲The former station office inside Mokoto Station has now turned into a cafe. 

Kitahama Station, which is one station away from Mokoto Station and a few minutes drive by car, is also a must-see place. 

The station is famous for being the closest station to the Sea of Okhotsk. It is very renowned that even sightseeing bus tours with tourists from all over Japan and overseas stop by. 

かつて中国映画のロケにも使用され、海外でも人気がある北浜駅▲Kitahama Station appeared as a location for a Chinese film, and it is famous for people from overseas as well. 

ホームのすぐ先にオホーツク海が広がります▲The Sea of Okhotsk is right in front of the platform. 

待合室には旅行者が記念に張り付けた使用済定期券や名刺がびっしり!ここにも喫茶店が入っています▲There are many used commuter passes and business cards on the wall of the waiting room! Tourists put theirs as a memorial. There is also a cafe in this station, too. 

Wooden built uncrewed stations are photogenic. They make us want to stop by although we are not planning to use trains. 

I was almost Lake Tofutsu; it’s close to Kitahama Station. I left the station, turned right before the bridge which appears soon, and parked the car to the parking of “Lake Tofutsu Waterfowl and Wetland Center” which is on the lakeside of Lake Tofutsu.

Lake Tofutsu to Furetoi Observatory in Hamakoshimizu: Enjoyed the lake with swans and Koshimizu Wildflower Park

Lake Tofutsu to Furetoi Observatory in Hamakoshimizu
Mileage: Approx. 9 kilometers
The time required: Approx. 10 mins

I will stop by three spots to see Lake Tofutsu. One of them is near “Lake Tofutsu Waterfowl and Wetland Center.”

「濤沸湖水鳥・湿地センター」裏手にある展望スポットにて▲Lake Tofutsu, seen from the observatory at the back of “Lake Tofutsu Waterfowl and Wetland Center.” 

Lake Tofutsu is a long and narrow lake which spreads from Abashiri City to Koshimizu-Cho. It’s a brackish lake with water from the river and the ocean mixes as it’s along the Sea of Okhotsk. 
Various wild birds fly by throughout the seasons. Whooper swans and ducks, etc., rest at this lake. 

Also, various flowers bloom around wet grassland and dune around the lake. You can also enjoy the landscape with horses and cows that are put out to grass. 

ズームアップしてみたら、さまざまな野鳥が飛んでいました♪▲I found many wild birds when I used my zoom lens. 

I spent a while here and watched wild birds flying the sky and took some pictures. I did not realize how much time I spent here. 

「濤沸湖水鳥・湿地センター」の駐車場を後にし、オホーツク海と濤沸湖の間を知床方面へ▲I left the parking of “Lake Tofutsu Waterfowl and Wetland Center” and headed to Shiretoko, using the road in between the Sea of Okhotsk and Lake Tofutsu. 

The second spot is “Koshimizu Wildflower Park,” which is approximately five minutes away from “Lake Tofutsu Waterfowl and Wetland Center” towards Shiretoko.

There is a parking area and a shop on the left of the National Route. I crossed JR’s railroad crossing at the back of the parking and walked to the observatory on the hill. 

湖の遠くに斜里岳が見えます。手前はJR釧網本線の原生花園駅▲I could see Mt. Shari far over the lake. There is JR Senmo Honsen Genseikaen Station in front. 

Koshimizu Wildflower Park is a wildflower garden with various beach plants flowers from spring to summer. You can enjoy a scenic landscape during the best season with great weather! 

駐車場から国道を渡った先にも散策路があります▲You can find a promenade by crossing the National Route from the parking. 

This is a great place to get the view of a majestic landscape around the lake and pretty flowers. I felt very refreshing. 

The third place is closer to Shiretoko from here. “Hamakoshimizu Furetoi Observatory,” an observatory close to Michi No Eki Hanayaka Koshimizu,” is where I am going. 

I turned left from the National Route just before Michi No Eki and kept going the narrow road which seems difficult to find. 

駐車スペースから丘の上にある展望台まで徒歩3分くらい。ちょっとしたトレッキング気分です▲It is about three minutes walk from the parking to the observatory on top of the hill. It felt like casual hiking. 

ピラミッド型の展望台。中に入って眺めることができます▲The pyramid-shaped observatory. You can get the view from the inside. 

真西には遠くに濤沸湖が見えます▲There is Lake Tofutsu far away in the west. 

北西を見ると、今まで通ってきたオホーツク海沿いの海岸線。網走市街や能取岬方面を遠望▲There was the coastline of the Sea of Okhotsk which I drove in the direction of north-west. I could also see the downtown of Abashiri City and Cape Notori. 

東を見ると、これから向かう知床半島の山々が海越しに見えます▲There were mountains in the Shiretoko Peninsula in the east, which I am heading from here. 

I saw the lake in various directions. Which one was your favorite? 

I was too greedy to visit three places and spent more time to enjoy views than driving cars. The sun was almost down, so I decided to finish for the day and start again tomorrow from here. 
Please consider that rather than visiting places in a rush, feeling relaxed and spend plenty of time at each location is an attraction of traveling.  

Hamakoshimizu Furetoi Observatory to Road to the Sky: This is Hokkaido! Enjoyed delicious ramen and visited a scenic place

Hamakoshimizu Furetoi Observatory to Road to the Sky
Mileage: Approx. 34 kilometers
The time required: Approx. 40 mins

I drove National Route until now, but the National Route goes inland from here, so I took the road closer to the sea towards Shiretoko. (Although I could not get the view of the ocean from the road) 

I took a left turn from the National Route just a while after passing “Michi No Eki Hanayaka Koshimizu” and drove the road in between farms and forests. 

I began to see a few houses, etc. and reached to Yanbetsu District after a while. There was a nostalgic wooden built station again on the left and decided to stop by. 

JR釧網本線の止別駅。地名は「やんべつ」ですが、駅名は「やむべつ」と読みます▲JR Senmo Honsen Yamubetsu Station. The district is called “Yanbetsu,” but the station is called “Yamubetsu” station. 

There is Ramen Kissa “Ekibasha” in Yamubetsu Station, and you can enjoy the unbelievably delicious ramen! 

北海道らしく海の幸たっぷりの「駅長ラーメン」をいただきました♪▲I had “Ekicho Ramen” with plenty of seafood, which was very Hokkaido-like here. 

You may also like this article: 
Ramen Kissa “Ekibasha” - Enjoy unbelievably delicious ramen at the wooden-built uncrewed station Yamubetsu Station

I kept driving to Shiretoko after having ramen as a brunch. I kept going on the straight road as I see farms on both sides. 

If you see a landscape of town in front, you are almost the center of Shari-Cho. I passed the city and kept driving in between farms and forests and parked the car at “Ikushina Wildflower Park” at the end. 

斜里町中心部から東側、オホーツク海沿岸にある海岸砂丘と湿地帯に広がる以久科原生花園▲Ikushina Wildflower Park spreads on dune and marsh along the Sea of Okhotsk, on the east from the center of Shari-Cho. 

This is also a natural flower garden with various beach plant flowers from spring to summer just like Koshimizu Wildflower Park. 

訪れたのは10月にて晩秋、紅葉の風景をたのしめました♪▲I visited in October, which was the end of autumn, and I could enjoy the view with colored leaves. 

ハマナスの実がまだありました▲There was still Hamanasu fruits. 

You can reach the beach by going over the hill in one to two minutes from the parking.

これから向かう知床半島が目の前に!▲Shiretoko Peninsula, where I am heading, was right in front of me! 

Although it was not the season of flowers, I enjoyed the view for a while and left. I stopped by “Road to the Sky,” which is a must-stop place, before going up to Shiretoko Peninsula with many scenic landscapes.

I kept driving towards east from Ikushina Wildflower Park, crossed the National Route, and drove up to the hill. I turned right at the end of T-junction and saw the parking on the left after a while. There are many people with cameras, looking in the right direction, around the parking. 

This is the final destination of today, “Road to the Sky.” 

突如目の前に現れた絶景道路。ずーっと遠くの遠くまで一直線!▲The scenic road appeared suddenly. There was a straight road to far far away! 

It is an approximately 28 kilometers straight road from the agricultural road, National Route no. 334 and no. 244. 

28 kilometers is about the same distance as the railroad from Shinagawa Station to Yokohama Station. It is an incredibly long straight road if you think like that. 

駐車場に車を停め、簡易的なデッキの上で記念撮影を撮れます▲You can park the car at the parking and take pictures on a simple deck. 

As the name suggests, the straight road looks as if it continues to the sky. This is one of the Hokkaido-like landscapes. 

This is it for today.
In the next article, I go down the Road to the Sky and turn right at the National Route. I will go up Shiretoko Peninsula and see “Shiretoko Goko Lakes” and Kamuiwakka Hot Waterfall. 
  • Going around Hokkaido (12) Ryuhyo-kaido Abashiri to Road to the Sky: To the scenic road through the lake with swans and uncrewed stations