Release | nobu Kawashima
Going around Hokkaido (14) Kamuiwakka Hot Waterfall to Aidomari Bridge: I visited the furthest of Shiretoko, the World Natural Heritage Site
This is the 14th article to go around the coastline of Hokkaido. I will visit the furthest part of Shiretoko, the World Natural Heritage Site, in this article.
This project is intended to drive along coastlines, but I will drive mostly in the mountains for this article. Why? There is no road to drive the northern tip of the Shiretoko Peninsula.
I will start from Kamuiwakka Hot Waterfall, the Shari-Cho side end of the Shiretoko Peninsula we could go by car. I will drive to Aidomari Bridge, the Rausu-Cho side end, stopping by Shiretoko Pass.
I will stop by “Hotel Chinohate,” the mansion-type hotel in the middle of the mountain and “Kumanoyu Onsen,” where many locals gather to enjoy the hidden, hot spring in Shiretoko.
Table of Contents- About the series: Going around Hokkaido
- About the route: From Kamuiwakka Hot Waterfall in Shari-Cho to Aidomari Bridge in Rausu-Cho
- Kamuiwakka Hot Waterfall to Hotel Chinohate: To the mansion-type hotel in the middle of the mountain in Shiretoko
- Hotel Chinohate to Shiretoko Pass: A place to enjoy driving with beautiful views, Shiretoko Crossing Road
- Shiretoko Pass to Kumanoyu Onsen: thanks to locals, fascinating hot spring for free!
- Kumanoyu Onsen to Aidomari Bridge: To the tip of Rausu-Cho, passing by Kunashir Island
▲Kumanoyu Onsen was a fascinating hot spring.
About the series: Going around HokkaidoThis 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
▲The route of this article (Google My Maps)
About the route: From Kamuiwakka Hot Waterfall in Shari-Cho to Aidomari Bridge in Rausu-Cho
Mileage: Approx. 77 kilometers
The time required: Approx. 2 hours 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 (13) Road to the Sky to Kamuiwakka Hot Waterfall: Watch out for Ezo deers! I enjoyed the magnificent nature of Shiretoko
▲Going around Hokkaido has come this much! (Google My Maps)
Kamuiwakka Hot Waterfall to Hotel Chinohate: To the mansion-type hotel in the middle of the mountain in ShiretokoKamuiwakka Hot Waterfall to Hotel Chinohate
Mileage: Approx. 18 kilometers
The time required: Approx. 40 mins
▲I will start from the Shari-Cho side end of the Shiretoko Peninsula, “Kamuiwakka Hot Waterfall.”
Kamuiwakka Hot Waterfall is a place where the whole river is made of hot spring, which is very rare. Although we say it’s a hot spring, it is not warm enough to bathe in. You can put your hands or legs and enjoy the water in nature.
It was already close to the sunset when I arrived here. I should not stay here for too long to avoid encountering brown bears, etc. I spent a while here and left this place.
▲The road ends here so I will drive back the way I came.
I had to pay attention to wild animals as I drove unpaved roads in the evening.
▲I met Ezo deer quite often, just like when I came here.
I drove for more than 30 mins, and it became a paved road near Shiretoko Goko Lakes. I was relieved. I kept driving towards Utoro District, the center of sightseeing in Shiretoko, then took a left turn. I drove about four kilometers and stayed at “Hotel Chinohate,” the mansion-type hotel in the middle of the mountain.
▲There is nothing other than the hotel! The hotel is deep in the woods and is an isolated environment from the outside world. (Hotel Chinohate provided the picture)
The hotel with onsen is located in the middle of the mountain and the World Natural Heritage Site. Most mobile phones can’t catch signals except a few ones. The hotel has plenty of “hidden-gem” feeling!
▲The outdoor hot spring is surrounded by forests. Of course, it’s a 100% natural onsen. (Hotel Chinohate provided the picture)
This is a hidden hotel.
I had an amazing and comfortable night in the middle of the mountains in Shiretoko.
Check out the article below to find out more!
Hotel Chinohate - the mansion-type hotel in the up-country of Shiretoko, a World Heritage Site
Hotel Chinohate to Shiretoko Pass: A place to enjoy driving with beautiful views, Shiretoko Crossing RoadHotel Chinohate to Shiretoko Pass
Mileage: Approx. 13 kilometers
The time required: Approx. 30 mins
The weather was bright and sunny the next day! I feel like I can enjoy a pleasant journey today.
I left Hotel Chinohate and headed to Shiretoko Pass of Shiretoko Crossing Road, the road which crosses from west to east of Shiretoko Peninsula.
▲I kept driving the narrow paved road, surrounded by woods, after leaving Hotel Chinohate.
I went back the road I came towards Utoro District and met National Route no. 334 near Shiretoko Nature Center.
I can go to Utoro District if I take a right turn here. This time, I took a left turn to head to Shiretoko Pass and towards Rausu-Cho.
▲National Route no. 334 near Shiretoko Pass is commonly called Shiretoko Crossing Road.
As I was saying goodbye to Utoro District, I kept going up the mountain.
▲I could see the Sea of Okhotsk and Utoro District from my mirror.
As the elevation became higher, tall trees disappeared. I could see the view very well! It was a great road to drive.
▲As the elevation became higher, Mt. Rausu, one of the most famous mountains of Shiretoko Mountain Range, came closer.
I reached to Shiretoko Pass after driving to the end of the hill. This pass is located in the center of the Shiretoko Peninsula. It will be Rausu-Cho from here.
▲When I arrived, the summit of Mt. Rausu was covered by crowds.
▲After about 10 minutes, I could see the shape of the mountain, although there was a little shadow!
If the weather is nice, you can get the view of not only Mt. Rausu in front but also Kunashir Island down on the side of Rausu-Cho. Shiretoko Pass offers quite a view from here.
I felt really nice!
▲I could see Kunashr Island clearly!
Shiretoko Pass to Kumanoyu Onsen
Shiretoko Pass to Kumanoyu Onsen: thanks to locals, fascinating hot spring for free!
Mileage: Approx. 13 kilometers
The time required: Approx. 20 mins
I kept going down the hill after leaving Shiretoko Pass. There were many curves, so Kunashir Island far away appeared on both right and left sides and also in front.
This route really offered great views! However, be careful because curves and hills continue on this road.
As I came to the foot of the mountain, I was surrounded by forests again. I noticed steam on the right on the way to go down Rausu River.
I parked the car to the parking on the right and headed to the source of steams.
▲I crossed the bridge on Rausu River. There is a cottage after going down the wooden hill.
This is a hidden, hot spring called “Kumanoyu Onsen,” located along Rausu River. Local fans manage this outdoor hot spring and offer it for free.
This place is popular not only by locals such as fishermen but also famous as a tourist destination. Many tourists visit this hot spring in summer, etc.
▲There are male and female separated outdoor bath and changing space. The picture is the male bath.
* I took this picture under permissions of locals.
Both the tub and washing space are very simple. However, locals clean every day, and it was well-maintained that there were almost no leaves, although it was autumn.
▲The white and cloudy, hot spring seems nice! I can’t believe this bath is offered for free.
I poured some water with a washtub, washed my body outside of the tub, and went in!
It was a little hot… Well, I was feeling cold, so it may have made me feel the water was hot.
I tried to get in little by little and managed to put my whole body into the water.
▲As soon as my body was inside the water completely, I got used to it soon and felt really nice.
My body got warm and started to sweat. Thank you very much for the fantastic bath! I should thank locals who manage this fascinating bath.
Kumanoyu Onsen to Aidomari Bridge: To the tip of Rausu-Cho, passing by Kunashir IslandKumanoyu Onsen to Aidomari Bridge
Mileage: Approx. 28 kilometers
The time required: Approx. 35 mins
I left Kumanoyu Onsen and got in the car again. I drove for a few minutes and arrived at the town of Rausu-Cho. The landscape of mountains ended here. I will drive along the coastline again.
I kept driving passing by houses and shops and took a left turn at the end of the road. I will drive as much as I can to the tip of the Shiretoko Peninsula.
▲I drove as I saw the ocean on the right. I could see Kunashir Island over the sea on the far right.
When I try to drive along the coastline of Hokkaido in clockwise, I basically get the view of the ocean on my left side. However, since we can’t go around Shiretoko Peninsula, I got the view of the sea on my left side.
I felt a bit awkward.
▲It’s 21 kilometers to Aidomari District, the end of the road, from here. I will keep driving.
Not like Shari-Cho side road going up and down in the mountains, roads on the Rausu-Cho side is mostly along the coast.
I could get the view of many picturesque sceneries such as Kunashir Island over the sea and many different strangely shaped rocks along the coastline.
▲“Tengu Rock,” the rock has a part which sticks out like a nose of Tengu.
▲“Kumaiwa (Bear Rock),” is a massive rock on the cliff. I heard this rock looks like a bear when it’s seen from the sea.
▲A magnificent waterfall along the road! It’s called “Seseki Waterfall,” and Seseki means hot spring in Ainu language.
As I reached Seseki Waterfall, I knew I was very close to the end of the road. I was in Aidomari District after driving for a few minutes.
Some houses appeared along the road, and I noticed a small port on the right. Then, the huge sign of “This is a dead-end” appeared in front of me suddenly.
▲There were two big signs on both sides of Aidomari Bridge to tell people that this is the dead end.
This is the furthest part of the Shiretoko Peninsula. There are no roads for car nor promenades for hikers. General people can’t go towards Shiretoko Pass form here.
▲There is a sign to tell people the dangers of visiting further from here.
I visited both sides of the Shiretoko Peninsula; Shari-Cho side and Rausu-Cho side!
This is it for today.
In the next article, I will keep driving along the coastline from Aidomari Bridge, by seeing Kunashiri Island on the left. I will visit around Rausu-Cho and Shibetsu-Cho and go to the tip of Notsuke Peninsula, a long and narrow sandbar which sticks out to the ocean.
Text, photo/Hokkaido Likers photo writer nobu Kawashima
Check the related articles!