Release | nobu Kawashima
Going around Hokkaido (33) Shikabe to Mt. Esan in Hakodate: From the Pacific Ocean to the Sea of Japan towards Mt. Esan
This is a series of articles to go around the coastline of Hokkaido in clockwise. In the 33rd article, I will drive from the Pacific Ocean side to the Sea of Japan side!
I will enjoy local specialties at “Michi-no-Eki Shikabe Kanketsusen Park” and drive to “Mt. Esan Kakogen Parking Lot” in Mt. Esan, the active volcano located at the south-east of Hakodate City.
I will also stop by “Mizunashi Kaihin Hot Spring,” a famous outdoor onsen bath where people can only bathe at low tide.
▲It looks like a rocky beach. However, it’s actually a hot spring!
Table of Contents- About the series: Going around Hokkaido
- About the route: Michi-no-Eki Shikabe Kanketsusen Park in Shikabe-Cho to Mt. Esan Kakogen Parking Lot in Hakodate City
- You can’t miss Shikabe’s seafood at Michi-no-Eki Shikabe Kanketsusen Park
- Michi-no-Eki Shikabe Kanketsusen Park to Todohokke Surf Beach: The last drive on the Pacific Ocean side!
- Todohokke Surf Beach to Mizunashi Kaihin Hot Spring: The famous onsen sinks into the ocean
- Mizunashi Kaihin Hot Spring to Mt. Esan Kakogen Parking Lot: Going around Mt. Esan!
* 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 Shikabe Kanketsusen Park in Shikabe-Cho to Mt. Esan Kakogen Parking Lot in Hakodate City
▲The route of this article (Google My Maps)
Route: Michi-no-Eki Shikabe Kanketsusen Park in Shikabe-Cho to Mt. Esan Kakogen Parking Lot in Hakodate City
Mileage: Approx. 70 kilometers
The time required: Approx. 1 hour 45 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) -
You can find the previous article of the series here:
Going around Hokkaido (32) Yakumo to Shikabe: Learn the history and enjoy nature in southern Hokkaido
▲Going around Hokkaido has come this much! (Google My Maps)
You can’t miss Shikabe’s seafood at Michi-no-Eki Shikabe Kanketsusen Park
I will start from “Michi-no-Eki Shikabe Kanketsusen Park” in Shikabe-Cho today.
▲It’s a Michi-no-Eki built around a geyser which boiling water and steams come out from underground.
▲Hot water rises to the sky as if it’s a hot spring fountain. You can see the geyser by paying an entrance fee at the Michi-no-Eki.
Let me eat something before I start driving.
Visitors can enjoy the Tarako meal set offered by the female department of local fishermen’s cooperative and seafood delis offered by the local supermarket Koita Shoten.
You may also find these articles interesting:
- “Shikabe Premium Tarako Meal” from Hama No Ka-san Shokudo in Shikabe-Cho, southern Hokkaido
- The fountain of onsen? Watch a tall column of water rising high up in the sky in Shikabe Town from a foot bath
I decided to try local specialties that loved for a long time by locals.
▲I had “scallop curry,” which uses scallops sourced in Shikabe-Cho.
The staff of the shop take off scallops from shells and boil them. It’s prepared locally. The scallop had a dense flavor, and I could not stop eating!
▲I also had deep-fried dishes: Atka mackerel sourced in Shikabe-Cho and oysters caught in Funka Bay.
As for the delis, deep-fried seasonal ingredients are very popular here. The standard from spring to summer is Atka mackerel, scallop, and oysters. Cods are the standard from autumn to winter.
▲I asked them to cut in half so that I can take a picture of inside.
The umami flavor of Atka mackerel and juice of oyster spreads into my mouth as I have a bite. I did not need any sauce like tartar sauce. It’s good enough by itself! I wanted to add these deep-fried dishes to my dinner or bento-box. I also recommend having these as snacks during driving.
▲“Yabai Kakiraa,” oyster chili oil, and “Scallop miso” are recommended for souvenirs. Those would match perfectly with rice!
I may have had too much food. After lunch, I went to see the geyser and ocean in front of the Michi-no-Eki for a while to wake myself up. I started driving after having an adequate break.
▲I found a boat.
▲I took a rest and watched the ocean over breakwaters.
Michi-no-Eki Shikabe Kanketsusen Park to Todohokke Surf Beach: The last drive on the Pacific Ocean side!Michi-no-Eki Shikabe Kanketsusen Park to Todohokke Surf Beach
Mileage: Approx. 37 kilometers
The time required: Approx. 45 mins
▲I left the Michi-no-Eki!
After I left the Michi-no-Eki, I kept driving in the residential district, where many houses had fishing equipment. The number of buildings decreased after a while, and the landscape of the ocean on the left and cliffs on the right continued.
▲I kept driving as I see the ocean on the left.
▲I found a small waterfall that flows on the surface of rocks on the right. The waterfall was called “Shamisen Waterfall.”
I felt sea breeze on the left and water from the waterfall on the right. I kept driving.
▲Soon after I entered to Minami-Kayabe District in Hakodate City to Shikabe-Cho, I took a small break at the vacant land on the side of the road.
▲I could go down to the sunken rocks.
▲It was a rocky ocean. The seawater looked clear!
I started driving again. The landscape of the ocean on the left continued for a while. Probably fishermen's houses appeared sometimes on both sides. I passed the village.
▲The beach looks like a tatami mat made with rocks. I could see the coastline that I was going to drive along.
There was a bypass road on the mountainside that avoids going into the town. However, I am trying to drive along the coastline as much as I can in this series, so I decided to take the former National Route along the ocean, which has many houses and curves.
I stopped by Cape Kurowashi, which is located on the left side soon after the merging point with the bypass.
▲It was a small cape where two or three cars could park. The Pacific Ocean is at the back.
According to the information board, this place was the birthplace of the Daibouami fishing method. During the Tempo Period of the Edo Era, people challenged the Daiboami fishing method at the shore of this cape.
▲This is the view from the tip of the cape. I can see the Pacific Ocean only for a while more in this series.
I left the cape and kept driving.
▲I felt like rocks are growing from the sea.
The houses almost disappeared, and the landscape got wild and steep gradually. Cliffs came near the coast, and the number of tunnels increased.
I passed a few tunnels, and the view got clear after passing the long tunnel. Mt. Esan, a uniquely shaped mountain, appeared in my front. I parked the car to Todohokke Surf Beach on the left near the tunnel.
▲I spend time to see the ocean with people enjoying surfing and Mt. Esan in the evening.
I decided to end the day here and start driving the next day again.
Todohokke Surf Beach to Mizunashi Kaihin Hot Spring: The famous onsen sinks into the oceanTodohokke Surf Beach to Mizunashi Kaihin Hot Spring
Mileage: Approx. 6 kilometers
The time required: Approx. 15 mins
I drove to Mizunashi Kaihin Hot Spring in the next morning. It’s a famous free outdoor bath that faces the Pacific Ocean, located in the Todohokke District of Hakodate City. It’s a rare hot spring because it appears only at low tide and sinks into the ocean at high tide.
Whether you can use the onsen depends on the time of tide and weather. You can’t get in if the weather is bad and waves are high. I researched the time of low tide, made a backup plan for bad weather, and scheduled my travel plan.
The onsen was at low tide from the early morning to the day on the day I visited. The weather was calm. I am so lucky!
▲I went away from the National Route and kept driving the narrow road that goes between houses on the ocean side in the Todohokke District.
▲A great spot to get a view of the ocean. It was the only place to get a panoramic view.
▲I will drive up the hill from the ocean.
There was an onsen hotel on the right and white lighthouse of Cape Esan on the left when I arrived at the top of the hill. I parked the car to walk around the lighthouse.
▲There were many Hamanasu flowers on the day I visited.
This might be sudden, but do you know the border of the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Japan?
The answer is the line from Cape Esan to Amayasaki in the Shimokita Peninsula of Aomori Prefecture. The east from the line is the Pacific Ocean, and the west is the Sea of Japan. This means the sea on the left is the Pacific Ocean, and the right is the Sea of Japan when it’s seen near this lighthouse.
I checked out the border (of course, I can’t actually see a line) I got on the car again. Mizunashi Kaihin Hot Spring is there, after going down the narrow hill.
I parked the car and walked to the onsen.
▲It seems like there were already a few people bathing.
▲walked to the tip of the bath.
I wanted to bathe naked, but I did not because there were too many people.
▲I just put my feet in. It was warm and felt very nice!
▲It looked like this when I was bathing my feet.
The onsen from the bottom of rocks looks as if it’s connected to the ocean. It felt like a magical situation.
I bathed nice and long that I almost forgot about the time. Although I left before it becomes high tide.
Mizunashi Kaihin Hot Spring to Mt. Esan Kakogen Parking Lot: Going around Mt. Esan!Mizunashi Kaihin Hot Spring to Mt. Esan Kakogen Parking Lot
Mileage: Approx. 27 kilometers
The time required: Approx. 45 mins
Mizunashi Kaihin Hot Spring to Misaki-Cho in the Esan District is very close on the map. However, there is no road along the coast, maybe because of the rough landscape.
I went back the road I came, passed the mountain from the center of Tobohokke District to Esan District, and went the coastline in counter-clockwise to the dead-end of Misaki-Cho.
If there was a road along the coastline, it would be approximately 2 kilometers. It was approximately 19 kilometers when I went around.
▲I went around as if I was going around Mt. Esan.
First, I drove over the mountain to the Esan District.
I was driving along the Pacific Ocean, but it will be along the Sea of Japan from here. It would take quite a lot of time to visit form the Pacific Ocean side to the Sea of Japan side in the Honshu Region, but it takes only a while here.
▲I arrived at the Sea of Japan! I kept driving as I see Mt. Esan in front and ocean on the right.
▲I had to slow down as the road got narrower on the say.
▲I arrived at the dead-end of Misaki-Cho.
I found houses along the road near the dead end. There are no sightseeing facilities or parking. This area is a genuine residential district. I could not stay long, so I left soon after and drove to the Kakogen Parking Lot, located at the halfway up of Mt. Esan.
I went back the road I came and took a right turn on the way. I drove up the mountain.
▲Mt. Esan is famous for its azalea flowers. The foot of the mountain gets red by azalea flowers in late May every year.
▲I kept driving up.
▲I looked down at the Kaikyo Observatory on the way to the mountain.
▲I could not get a clear view of the day, but you will be able to see the Shimokita Peninsula of Aomori Prefecture over Tsugaru Straight on a sunny clear day.
I arrived at the Kakogen Parking Lot in a few minutes from the observatory.
▲Mt. Esan, an active volcanic mountain, was in front of me!
This is where people can visit with a car. You have to walk, or in other words, hike to the summit!
▲It would be fun to prepare hiking equipment and hike up Mt. Esan.
▲When I hiked up, I could look down the coastline I was driving.
▲I could also see Cape Esan lighthouse!
This is a magnificent view only available for people who walked up. If you have hiking equipment and the weather is nice, you should try hiking Mt. Esan!
You may also find these articles interesting:
- A casual hike to Mt. Esan! Enjoy the magnificent view with strangely shaped rocks and ocean at an active volcano with an easy hiking trail in Hakodate
- Mt. Esan in the east of Hakodate City becomes beautifully red with Tsutsuji flowers
This is it for today.
In the next article, I will get to the downtown of Hakodate City. I will leave Mt. Esan Kakogen Parking Lot and drive to Cape Tachimachi, which is located at the foot of Mt. Hakodate. Hiura Domon, where hand-dug tunnels continue, was quite impressive!
Text, photo/Hokkaido Likers photo writer nobu Kawashima