Release | nobu Kawashima
Going around Hokkaido (30) Muroran to Toyoura: drive along Funka Bay with the view of Mt. Usu
This is a series of articles to drive around the coastline of Hokkaido in the clock-wise. I would like to celebrate the 30th article!
I will start from Michi-no-Eki Mitara Muroran in Muroran City and drive to Michi-no-Eki Toyoura in Toyoura-Cho.
I will stop by Koibito Beach and Cape Arutori in Date City to enjoy the view of Funka Bay. I will also enjoy walking in the natural rock garden at Usu Zenkoji Temple Nature Park. Majestic landscape of Mt. Usu far away is a must-see.
▲I walked around the nature park around Usu Zenkoji Temple and the temple itself with a Japanese-like atmosphere.
Table of Contents- About the series: Going around Hokkaido
- About the route: Michi-no-Eki Mitara Muroran in Muroran City to Michi-no-Eki Toyoura in Toyoura-Cho
- Michi-no-Eki Mitara Muroran to Bokoi Station: Shiratori Bridge: I got the view of Shiratori Bridge without crossing it
- Bokoi Station to Koibito Beach: Muroran gets far and Mt. Usu becomes closer
- Koibito Beach to Cape Arutori: Amazing views of Funka Bay!
- Cape Arutori to Michi-no-Eki Toyoura: Have a break at the old temple and natural rock garden
* 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: Michi-no-Eki Mitara Muroran in Muroran City to Michi-no-Eki Toyoura in Toyoura-Cho
▲The route of this article (Google My Maps)
Route: Michi-no-Eki Mitara Muroran in Muroran City to Michi-no-Eki Toyoura in Toyoura-Cho
Mileage: Approx. 59 kilometers
The time required: Approx. 1 hour 30 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 (29) Shiraoi to Muroran: Toward the beautiful views of Muroran where cities and nature sit next to each other
▲Going around Hokkaido has come this much! (Google My Maps)
Michi-no-Eki Mitara Muroran to Bokoi Station: Shiratori Bridge: I got the view of Shiratori Bridge without crossing itAyoro Onsen to Itanki Beach
Mileage: Approx. 6 kilometers
The time required: Approx. 10 mins
Today’s starting point is “Michi-no-Eki Mitara Muroran” in Muroran City. It’s a Michi-no-Eki close to Shiratori Bridge, one of the symbols of Muroran City.
▲The Michi-no-Eki was quite crowded with many cars.
▲There is a park golf field at the back of the building, and Shiratori Bridge is over the field.
You may also find this article interesting:
“Michi No Eki Mitara Muroran” re-opened in April 2019, it changed like this!
First, I will look at the bridge from the “Shiratori Bridge Observatory” near the entrance of the bridge.
▲Shiratori Bridge Observatory is an approximately one minute drive from the Michi-no-Eki. It’s right up the stairs from the parking.
▲I could see the whole figure of Shiratori Bridge! This place is also famous for getting night views.
It’s common to cross Shiratori Bridge to go to the direction of Toyoura-Cho. However, I try to drive the coastline as much as I can in this article, so I won’t cross the suspension bridge and go around Muroran Port.
▲I kept driving as I see port landscapes on my left.
My first stop for today is Bokoi Station. This station is famous for the entrance ticket as a present for mothers, and the name means “love for mom.” Not only the tickets but also the ekiben (station bento box) “Bokoi Meshi” is very famous.
What kind of ekiben is Bokoimeshi? Learn more from the article below!
Delicious local Ekiben from Muroran “Bokoi-Meshi” - you have a chance to win a lucky charm!
▲Bokoi Station looks excellent with the nostalgic building. Bokoi Meshi is sold at the corner of the station.
Unfortunately, I just had a quite big meal before arriving at Michi-no-Eki, so I left the station without trying the ekiben. I’d like to try it when I revisit this place!
Bokoi Station to Koibito Beach: Muroran gets far and Mt. Usu becomes closerBokoi Station to Koibito Beach
Mileage: Approx. 38 kilometers
The time required: Approx. 55 mins
I will drive for a while from here.
▲I passed the factory area in Muroran City.
I drove multi-level crossing at near Higashi-Muroran Station and kept driving in the downtown with heavy traffic.
I was still driving along the coastline but could not get the view of the ocean that much. I passed the branch to Muroran Interchange and Shiratori Bridge, drove for a while, and finally got to see the sea on my left.
▲Muroran City was far behind. Goodbye Muroran!
Now I will enter from Muroran City to Date City.
▲Clouds seem to be disappearing. I might get a clear blue sky from here!
I found a station looks lucky, so I stopped by.
It’s the Kogane Station.
It reads “Kogane” instead of “Ogon.”
▲This is a small uncrewed station near the sea.
I’m not planning to do anything here.
I might become rich if I pray at this station!? Oh, well, the station name is “Kogane” (a little amount of money), so I might not be that rich… Well, anyway, I prayed for the luck of money.
I left Kogane Station and kept driving Hokkaido Road no. 779 close to the ocean, not National Route no. 37, which is the main road in this district.
▲Mt. Usu became in front of me. I also could see Showa-Shinzan on my right.
Mt. Usu came closer. It looks majestic as it’s an active volcano.
Mt. Usu becomes in front-right after passing the downtown of Date City.
▲Mt. Usu far away. I crossed the Osaru River.
I returned to the National Route once and got away again to drive the coastline. My next destination is Koibito Beach and Cape Arutori.
Koibito Beach to Cape Arutori: Amazing views of Funka Bay!Koibito Beach to Cape Arutori
Mileage: Approx. 2 kilometers
The time required: Approx. 5 mins
The official name for Koibito Beach (lover’s beach) is Usu Beach. Many couples gathered at the beach in the past, and that made the nickname Koibito Beach common.
▲Funka Bay is right in front! I could also see Date City’s downtown, Mt. Sokuro in Muroran City, Cape Etomo, etc.!
Mild waves come and go to the beach. Bright early summer sunshine. This beach makes me want to relax and take a nap.
▲I found many beach plant flowers, such as Hamanasu.
I kept driving for a while from Kobito Beach and arrived at Cape Arutori. It’s a cape on an uphill that sticks out to the sea, and you can get an amazing view of Funka Bay and Mt. Usu from here!
▲The viewpoint changed from Koibito Beach. I really liked the view from here as well.
The summit of Mt. Usu collapsed greatly approximately 7,000 years ago.
Funka Bay at the foot was covered with rocks, earth, sand, and a bunch of mudflow hills appeared.
Cape Arutori is one of such mudflow hills. Those reefs near the shore, too, are parts of mudflow that washed away by waves.
▲Mt. Usu in the front. I assume it was a much taller long time ago.
The summit collapsed, earth and rock flowed from here, and it made lands I am standing and reefs over there. I feel the great power of nature. This is a cape to feel such power as you enjoy the beautiful view of the mountain and the ocean.
▲You can also enjoy camping at Cape Arutori.
Cape Arutori to Michi-no-Eki Toyoura: Have a break at the old temple and natural rock gardenCape Arutori to Michi-no-Eki Toyoura
Mileage: Approx. 13 kilometers
The time required: Approx. 20 mins
I left Cape Arutori. Narrow roads that go around houses and ports continue.
Date City is a warm district in Hokkaido, and it’s sometimes described as “Shonan in Hokkaido.” I felt a little bit of Shonan but also Izu, Ise-Shima, and Sanriku. You can enjoy unlike-Hokkaido sceneries here in a good way.
▲Ports spread along a complex coastline.
And another attractive sight here that is unlike Hokkaido is Usu Zenkoji Temple Nature Park in this area. It’s a nature park with Usu Zenkoji Temple and a garden around the temple with flowers, greens, and natural rocks.
▲It is said that Usu Zenkoji Temple has approximately 1,200 years of history.
You can enjoy the traditional Japanese atmosphere that mixes the old temple and natural landscape that spread on the hill created by Mt. Usu’s volcanic activities.
▲You can take a look inside the temple.
▲The temple is famous as a place to see flowers such as cherry blossoms and hydrangeas.
The area around the temple is also a mudflow hill created by the great collapse of Mt. Usu, just like Cape Arutori. Mt. Usu’s volcanic activities created big rocks in the park.
▲The rock garden is not humanmade. It’s a natural rock garden created by volcanic activities.
I spent about two hours looking at the temple and walking around the garden.
I took quite a long detour, but this is also a fun part of traveling. I left the Usu District.
I entered to Toyako-Cho and will drive National Route no. 37 from here.
▲The road becomes forestry after passing Toyako Station.
Michi-no-Eki Toyoura, which is the goal of today, appears soon after I enter Toyoura-Cho from Toyako-Cho.
This Michi-no-Eki is along the road the goes to Hakodate City from Muroran City and also a transit point of the Nakayama Pass route from Sapporo City to cities in the southern Hokkaido. It’s a convenient place to take a break during traveling southern Hokkaido.
▲I arrived at Michi-no-Eki in the evening. This Michi-no-Eki is famous for strawberry-flavored soft serve and deep-fried scallops.
This is it for today.
The season changes to mid-summer from the next article.
I will leave “Michi-no-Eki Toyoura” and enjoy the coastline landscapes of Toyoura-Cho and Oshamanbe-Cho. My final stop of the next article will be “Oka-no-Eki” in “Funka Bay Panorama Park” in Yakumo-Cho.
Text, photo/Hokkaido Likers photo writer nobu Kawashima