Release | nobu Kawashima
Going around Hokkaido (23) Toyokoro to Hiroo: Visit the origin of Tokachi and the village of Santa Claus located at the foot of Hidaka Mountain Range
This is a part of the series to go around the coastline of Hokkaido from Otaru City. I will drive the Tokachi Region in this 23rd article.
I will start from Otsu Beach in Toyokoro-Cho, where is famous for jewelry ice in mid-winter. I will stop by the replica of the house of Benzo Yoda, the pioneer of development in Tokachi, Banseisha Park, and Bansei Onsen. I will end today’s journey at Hiroo Santaland in Hiroo-Cho.
▲I will drive the area with many lakes and marshes along the coastline.
Table of Contents- About the series: Going around Hokkaido
- About the route: Otsu Beach in Toyokoro-Cho to Hiroo Santaland in Hiroo-Cho
- Otsu Beach to Lake Chouboshi: A quiet lake by the ocean
- Lake Chouboshi to Banseisha Park: Look back the history of the development
- Banseisha Park to Bansei Onsen: Take a break in the iodine onsen with a view of the ocean
- Bansei Onsen to Hiroo Santaland: Hidaka Mountain Range is very close!
* I used pictures taken on different days in this article. Therefore, the colors of the sky and weather look different.
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 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: Otsu Beach in Toyokoro-Cho to Hiroo Santaland in Hiroo-Cho
▲The route of this article (Google My Maps)
Route: Otsu Beach in Toyokoro-Cho to Hiroo Santaland in Hiroo-Cho
Mileage: Approx. 85 kilometers
The time required: Approx. 1 hour 55 mins (except breaks, time to stop at sightseeing spots, and the detour)
Check the detailed map from the link below!
Going around Hokkaido (19) -
Going around Hokkaido (11) -
Going around Hokkaido (1) - (10)
You can find the previous article of the series here:
Going around Hokkaido (22) Kushiro to Toyokoro: Leave Nusamai Bridge in the city and visit around hidden picturesque places in the Tokachi Region
▲Going around Hokkaido has come this much! (Google My Maps)
大Otsu Beach to Lake Chouboshi: A quiet lake by the oceanOtsu Beach to Lake Chouboshi
Mileage: Approx. 6 kilometers
The time required: Approx. 15 mins
I will start from Otsu Beach in Toyokoro-Cho. It’s the beach near the mouth of Tokachi River, which is a first-grade river in the Tokachi Region.
▲I will start from Otsu Beach!
This beach has become very famous by jewelry ice, which appears in mid-winter. Jewelry ice is pieces of ice flew into the Pacific Ocean from Tokachi River that gets washed up on Otsu Beach near the mouth of the river.
You may also find this article interesting:
Possibly the only phenomenon in Japan, “Jewelry Ice” in Toyokoro Town
I visited the beach in April.
There is, of course, no ice. I decided to get the view of Tokachi River, the parent of jewelry ice. I could get to a view spot to see Tokachi River after driving two to three minutes on the unpaved road near the beach.
▲Tokachi River flows from Taisetsu Mountain Range to the Pacific Ocean.
I felt like my space in the heart got bigger by seeing the beach and a wide river. I left Otsu Beach with an open feeling. I left the unpaved road near the beach to the paved road that runs in the center of the Otsu District.
▲I kept driving as I see Otsu Port that looks like cutting the ground.
My first destination is Lake Choubushi.
It’s a brackish lake along the Pacific Ocean. It’s approximately 4 kilometers south-west from the center of the Otsu District.
A narrow sand due divides the lake and the Pacific Ocean and there is a camp site on the sand due.
▲Lake Choubushi is a quiet lake. There was only one more group except me visiting the lake. It felt like as if the time has stopped.
The sand due is also a wild flower park with Japanese roses and Daylilies. Many people visit here to see flowers and do camping, mainly in summer.
Lake Chouboshi to Banseisha Park: Look back the history of the developmentLake Choubushi to Banseisha Park
Mileage: Approx. 24 kilometers
The time required: Approx. 30 mins
I will pass by many blackish lakes near the sea on the way to Hiroo-Cho, such as Lake Yudo, Oikamanaito, Horokayanto, etc.
However, there is no road along the coastline from here. The road to Hiroo-Cho continues to run inlands, so I will have to go back and forth from inlands to near the coast to visit each lake.
I left the coast and drove in the forests to Lake Yudo. However, I was surprised when I reached to the crossroad to Lake Yudo!
▲The road was still closed because of the winter season! The sign said the road will reopen in few days.
This was the only road to visit Lake Yudo along the coast. Unfortunately, I could not go further. Today’s journey got 15 to 20 kilometers shorter.
I was disappointed but kept driving towards the next destination.
I took a left turn at the Seika District in Taiki-Cho, the next town.
▲I found the monument of former school near the crossroad.
This district is called “Seika” with the character “生花.” However, the lake near from here is Oikamanaito with “生花苗沼.” It’s quite difficult to read.
I wanted to stop by “Banseisha Park” before going to Oikamanaito.
▲You can visit Banseisha Park in two to three minutes after turning into unpaved road from paved road that appears in a few minutes from the crossroad of the Seika District.
This is a park with the replica of the house of Benzo Yoda, the pioneer of Tokachi’s development, etc. He lived here from 1893 to 1915 and set here as the base of Tokachi’s development.
▲There were information boards and sign books.
The only thing I noticed was information boards and signs.
“Is this it?”
I was a little disappointed and looked the map on the information board. Oh, it seems like there is another site.
I walked around the hill and went down. There were restored buildings, etc.
▲Restored house of Benzo Yoda.
▲I could see Doma (dirt floor) and living room, etc., over the window.
There used to be stables, cowsheds, butter factories, canned food factories, etc. There are only farms and forests around the area now. No one would notice this place was the base of Tokachi’s development if this park was not here.
▲This is how it looks like from the house of Benzo Yoda. There were countless wild birds near the place where stables seem to be existed.
This is a place that makes me want to keep up by feeling tremendous works and passions of people in the past.
Banseisha Park to Bansei Onsen: Take a break in the iodine onsen with a view of oceanBanseisha Park to Bansei Onsen
Mileage: Approx. 8 kilometers
The time required: Approx. 15 mins
I got back to the paved road from the unpaved road which connects to Banseisha Park.
▲The ocean looks very far!
I will keep going on the narrow road to see the lake near the ocean.
▲A bird that looks like an eagle crossed in front of me when I was taking a picture of the road.
I kept going the extremely narrow road that would be difficult to pass other cars.
▲I could see the lake in between woods.
▲I arrived at the shore of Oikamanaito. There is almost no artificial things and felt I was surrounded by nature!
You can enjoy the landscape of lake shore and the coastline. I am not planning to drive the coastline so much in this article, so this would be one of the few places to get the view of the ocean.
▲The far back is ocean and the near part is lake.
When you see the ocean, Bansei Onsen, the next destination is very close. I stayed a night here and took a bath.
▲Bansei Onsen is located on the hill along the coastline.
This brownish onsen contains a lot of iodine together with salts. Iodine contains bactericidal action and used in mouth wash, etc.
I enjoyed the fantastic view of the Pacific Ocean as I enjoyed the onsen with unique components. I felt like my mind and body are both sanitized.
▲The view in the evening was fantastic!
Bansei Onsen to Hiroo Santaland: Hidaka Mountain Range is very close!Bansei Onsen to Hiroo Santaland
Mileage: Approx. 47 kilometers
The time required: Approx. 55 mins
I stayed a night at an accommodation near Bansei Onsen. I took the road inland because there are no roads along the coastline to Hiroo-Cho.
After driving for a while, I noticed a navy sign with “SORA.”
▲What is “SORA”?
Taiki-Cho is recently becoming famous as the launching site for private small-sized rockets. “Taiki-Cho Multi-Purpose Aviation Park,” located in here, Bisei District, is the base of the launching site. “SORA” is the name of exhibition facility in the park called “Taiki-Cho Space Center.”
▲It’s used for experiments related to aviation and space industries and the base of sky sports.
Would this be the doorway to space travels in the future? It would be great if we could go driving in space as if we drive cars in the earth. My imagination spurred like a child.
I got back to the car and held my handle. It was suddenly the reality.
I kept driving in between farms.
▲Vast farms and windbreaks. The Tokachi-like landscape continued for a while.
▲I crossed Rekifune River, the river known as a clear stream.
▲Rekifune River, the Environment Agency called it the most beautiful river in Japan. You can go down and walk near the shore.
I could see Hidaka Mountain Range in front after crossing Rekifune River.
I left Otaru City and went around Wakkanai City, Nemuro City, and now I am here near the Hidaka Mountain Range, which is called the backbone of Hokkaido. I have completed driving the right half of the map of Hokkaido now.
▲The straight road goes in the middle of the vast field and mountains of the Hidaka Mountain Range. This is another Tokachi-like landscape.
I entered to Hiroo-Cho from Taiki-Cho. I took a left turn to take the road along the coastline and kept driving toward the downtown of Hiroo-Cho.
▲I passed near Seaside Park Hiroo, a park with a camping site and a park-golf field.
Seaside Park Hiroo is located just before the downtown of Hiroo-Cho. This is a place where you should visit in summer, during the camping season, and early summer when flowers bloom.
There is one of the largest areas in Japan where Trillium camschatcense grow in colonies.
▲The best season is early to mid May. (Hiroo-Cho town hall provided the picture)
▲I visited before the season of flowers.
▲I found stem of the fuki (giant butterbur) plant.
I swore myself to visit here again in the different season, and headed to the downtown of Hiroo-Cho. I will almost arrive at today’s goal, Hiroo Santaland.
▲I found signs of Hiroo Santaland so many times!
▲I went under the red boot-shaped gate and drove the uphill.
▲I arrived at Hiroo Santaland!
▲I will take a break here while looking inside the facility.
You can take a look at facilities related to Santa Claus, such as Santa’s house, and see beautiful flowers like azaleas from spring to autumn.
You may also find this article interesting:
"Hiroo Santa Land Illumination" - Hiroo Town A Santa town lit with the gentle glow of Christmas lights.
This is it for today.
In the next article, I will leave Hiroo Santa Land and go down south to Erimo-Cho via the Golden Road. I will visit Cape Erimo, which has the feeling of the end of the world.
Text, photo/Hokkaido Likers photo writer nobu Kawashima