Release | nobu Kawashima
Going around Hokkaido (28) Tomakomai to Shiraoi: Enjoyed nature, a local dish, and onsen at Shiraoi-Cho
This is a series to go around the coastline of Hokkaido. In this 28th article, I will start from “Tomakomai West Port Ferry Terminal.” It is a ferry terminal to connect Hokkaido and many cities in the Honshu region. Then, I will drive to Shiraoi-Cho, the next town of Tomakomai City.
I will visit a wetland, have a local dish called “Shiraoi Burger & Bagel,” take a few detours and drive to “Ayoro Onsen” in Kojohama Onsen, where customers can bathe without staying a night.
▲I enjoyed “Shiraoi Burger & Bagel” at “Hashimoto Coffee,” where they provide dishes with handmade potteries.
Table of Contents- About the series: Going around Hokkaido
- About the route: Tomakomai West Port Ferry Terminal in Tomakomai City to Ayoro Onsen in Shiraoi-Cho
- Tomakomai West Port Ferry Terminal to Yokosuto Marsh: See off a ferry, and let’s start driving!
- “Yokosuto Marsh” along the National Route is a paradise near the ocean
- Yokosuto Marsh to Hashimoto Coffee: Enjoy Shiraoi Burger & Bagel with freshly dripped coffee
- Hashimoto Coffee to Ayoro Onsen: Make your skin smooth at the onsen where locals go
* 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: Tomakomai West Port Ferry Terminal in Tomakomai City to Ayoro Onsen in Shiraoi-Cho
▲The route of this article (Google My Maps)
Route: Tsubaki Salon Yuyake Branch in Niikappu-Cho to Tomakomai West Port Ferry Terminal in Tomakomai City
Mileage: Approx. 46 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 (25) -
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 (27) Niikappu to Tomakomai: Relax at a surfer’s beach and riverside with dandelion flowers
▲Going around Hokkaido has come this much! (Google My Maps)
Tomakomai West Port Ferry Terminal to Yokosuto Marsh: See off a ferry, and let’s start driving!Tomakomai West Port Ferry Terminal to Yokosuto Marsh
Mileage: Approx. 26 kilometers
The time required: Approx. 40 mins
I will start from the “Tomakomai West Port Ferry Terminal” in Tomakomai City today.
▲It’s a terminal of ferries that travel to Hachinohe Port in Aomori Prefecture, Oarai Port in Ibaraki Prefecture, etc.
Many people use this port to get to Hokkaido with their cars and motorcycles. It is a starting point for their journeys. The first article of this series started at Otaru City. Otaru City is also a terminal of ferries that travel ports in the Sea of Japan, such as Kyoto Prefecture and Niigata Prefecture.
I wish these ports help people who want to drive motorcycle touring in Hokkaido.
▲A ferry left for Hachinohe Port.
After seeing off the ferry, I decided to take off the port, too! I drove Tomakomai City’s downtown near the port for a while.
▲I drove as I see the port in the back, and took a left turn to Muroran City.
Tomakomai City is a port town and at the same time, one of the biggest industrial cities in Hokkaido. Large roads have many lanes, and I saw many large-sized automobiles such as trucks.
▲This district looks a lot different from our impression of Hokkaido with exceptional nature. It might be surprising for first-time visitors!
▲Some shops and markets here are famous for sashimi rice bowls and surf clam curry along the road. Tourists love these dishes a lot.
I drove through Tomakomai’s downtown and took the National Route no.36 to go to Shiraoi-Cho, the next town.
▲Two lanes on one side continued for a while.
The landscape got a bit clearer as buildings disappeared.
It was, unfortunately, a cloudy day. If it were sunny, you can get the view of Mt. Tarumae on the right and enjoy the Hokkaido-like majestic landscape.
▲Mt. Tarumae is hidden over clouds.
Instead, I took a look at a historical site.
Nishikioka District in western Tomakomai leaves former silos that were attacked by strafing during air raids in the late Pacific War. I heard that rooftop left deep scars of strafing, but it seems like the roof fell off recently.
▲A red-brick built former silo that was attacked by air raids. It stands quietly in a grassy field beside the National Route.
I was in Shiraoi-Cho, the next town of Tomakomai City, after a while.
National Route continues along the coastline as if the road is circumventing the town. There was a sign to show where the wetland is on the left side of the road soon after I started driving the coastline. Let’s go take a look!
“Yokosuto Marsh” along the National Route is a paradise near the ocean“Yokosuto Marsh” is located near the beach in the east part of Shiraoi-Cho. It’s a wetland that was designated as “Japan’s important wetlands” by the Ministry of the Environment in 2016.
▲Look for this sign on the left side of the road that goes toward Muroran City.
It’s a low moor along the National Route. There are groups of Hamanasu flowers, wild birds habit here, and also a stopping point of migratory birds.
▲I visited the marsh in early July. There were many bright pink Hamanasu flowers.
There is a gravel path in the marsh, and you can use cars to see the wetland as long as you stay on the gravel path. I parked the car for a while and took a walk.
▲I also found many Sawa-hiyodori flowers with pale pink colors.
I could hear the voices of many birds. Unfortunately, I don’t know very much about birds, so I could not identify the names of birds. There were at least a few kinds. It seems like birds are very close to me, but I could not see them.
▲There were many plants and flowers. Wild birds must be somewhere near…
You should not get in the wetland to protect nature. I stayed on the gravel path while I enjoyed the view.
▲You can also see the Pacific Ocean over the hill.
I felt really lovely after seeing beautiful flowers and the ocean. It’s a great place to take a short break while driving.
▲I never knew that there was a wetland near the National Route, where many large-sized vehicles pass by.
There are no restrooms nor shops. There is only nature here. Well, it’s better to be nothing.
Yokosuto Marsh to Hashimoto Coffee: Enjoy Shiraoi Burger & Bagel with freshly dripped coffeeYokosuto Marsh to Hashimoto Coffee
Mileage: Approx. 16 kilometers
The time required: Approx. 20 mins
I felt very refreshed after getting away from the National Route with heavy traffic. Now I can go back to the National Route. I will drive to “Hashimoto Coffee” in the west part of Shiraoi-Cho next.
▲I drove the National route with two lanes on one side. There is quite a traffic.
Cars could run, but I could only drive slowly because of the number of cars.
▲The road turned into one lane, and the number of cars at traffic lights seemed quite a lot.
It became two lanes again near Kojohama Onsen, and I found “Hashimoto Coffee” on the right side.
▲I took a right turn to the coffee shop.
Hashimoto Coffee offers dishes made with locally sourced ingredients and home-roasted coffee with handmade potteries created in the studio built next to the cafe. Many tourists and locals stop by this cafe while driving.
▲The shop felt spacious with a high ceiling.
I will have Shiraoi-Cho’s local dish “Shiraoi Burger & Bagel” here.
“Shiraoi Burger & Bagel” is a sandwich dish made with bread and bagels baked with Hokkaido flours and local specialties of Shiraoi.
Several restaurants in the town offer unique menus, and their ingredients are in variety, such as Shiraoi wagyu beef patty, katsu, Kojihama tarako, salmon, etc.
Find out more about “Shiraoi Burger & Bagel”:
"Shiraoi Burgers and Bagels" - A shop with 30 kinds of specialty burgers!?
Hashimoto Coffee provides three kinds of “Shiraoi Burger & Bagel”:
- “Stewed Shiraoi Beef Burger” - Stewed Shiraoi Beef patty and vegetable sandwich
- “Tobiton Burger” - Stewed specific pathogen-free pig grew in Tobiu District in Shiraoi-Cho and vegetable sandwich
- “Smoked Salmon Burger” (limited in autumn and winter) - locally sourced smoked salmon and vegetables sandwich.
▲I asked for “Stewed Shiraoi Beef Burger” with a set of blend coffee and coffee jelly.
The patty is made 100% with Shiraoi Beef, and staffs knead the meat every day. It was very meaty and had a delicious juice when I bit. The demiglace sauce was very mild.
Although it was meaty, it tasted quite light.
Coffee was mild, and it did not get way in the flavors of dishes. I enjoyed the coffee with the meal very much.
▲I took a look at the studio that is built next to the cafe after the meal. (You cannot take pictures in the studio. I asked for special permission)
They established the studio to provide home-brewed coffee with handmade cups. Now the studio sells works by approximately ten artists.
▲Coffee pottery fires pieces in a container that puts coffee powders. These are unique in this shop.
I enjoyed the local dish and some arts. I had a very relaxing time here.
Hashimoto Coffee to Ayoro Onsen: Make your skin smooth at the onsen where locals goHashimoto Coffee to Ayoro Onsen
Mileage: Approx. 5 kilometers
The time required: Approx. 5 mins
I will end the day with an onsen!
I left “Hashimoto Coffee” and headed to the last stop of today, “Ayoro Onsen,” in Kojohama Onsen district.
There are several onsen facilities in Kojohama Onsen, but they are all scattered around Kojohama District.
I will not visit an onsen hotel today. Instead, I will stop by “Ayoro Onsen” along the ocean, which accepts visitors without staying a night.
▲I drove the National Route for a while and took a left turn at Kojohama District, towards the road along the coastline.
This road is also called “Seafood Road” as there are several shops selling seafood. Kojohama is famous for tarako (cod roe). Everywhere features tarako!
▲I was almost seduced by tarako but kept driving to Ayoro Onsen on the right side of the road.
Their onsen is self-sourced, and the component is slightly alkaline with a lot of salt content.
Visitors can use pure onsen from morning till night at a Sento’s price, so the place is favored by locals and onsen fans. The facility also offers an easily accessible environment, which means people with wheelchairs are able to use the facility.
▲They offer mid-temperature bath, hot temperature bath, bed bath, jacuzzi, etc. (Ayoro Onsen provided the picture)
The water was mild, and I felt it was clinging to the body. The texture of the water was amazing! I felt envy for locals who can use this high-quality onsen at a Sento’s price.
▲Although it’s small, they also offer an outdoor bath. (Ayoro Onsen provided the picture)
My skin was very smooth after the bath, and I felt like I don’t need to put lotion on. I enjoyed the water very much.
This is it for today.
In the next article, I will visit around beautiful landscapes of Muroran City, such as Cape Chikyu.
Text, photo/Hokkaido Likers photo writer nobu Kawashima