Monthly Archives: August 2012

About a month ago (July 31st), four chaps from Surly (the bicycle maker) visited Sapporo. They brought with them the hallowed new bike of theirs, the Krampus. I joined them along with a group from Sam’s Bike on a blat around some hills in Sapporo. The guy above getting a […]

Surly Japan Tour – Sapporo Visit

Big day and lots of climbing. That seems to summarise today quite nicely. But in reality, the first 80km or so was mostly downhill, and mostly on a beautiful cycling path following the Ishikari River. Once again I was warned of bears, but saw no sign of them. Except this […]

HOKKAIDO (Bear Hunt Day 15): Sounkyo to Ashibetsu

Today I felt like I was in my element. Yesterday, in Kitami, I had bought a motorcyclists’ route map book for Hokkaido, which shows in some detail the various off-road and/or dirt roads routes which criss-cross the island. I’ve always found the unpaved back roads (anywhere I’ve been in the […]

HOKKAIDO (Bear Hunt Day 14): Onneyu to Sounkyo

What is this? The bear hunt continues? Yes, yes it does. Haidee had pressing work to do in Sapporo, but I decided that the work I had to do could wait, so I would cycle the 350km or so back to Sapporo on my own. So after sending Haidee off […]

HOKKAIDO (Bear Hunt Day 13): Abashiri to Onneyu

This was our last day on the road together for this bear hunt in the Shiretoko region, home to more bears per square kilometer than anywhere else in Japan. We saw not hide nor tail of one. We saw plenty of warnings of bears. But no actual bears. Not even […]

HOKKAIDO (Bear Hunt Day 12): Kotan to Abashiri

The  hiking troupe had planned for today to be a rest day, so we decided it was a great chance to take the day off too. The day began with an open-air hot spring down the road from okaasan’s place, and only about 1m from the lake’s edge. Originally built as […]

HOKKAIDO (Bear Hunt Day 11): A rest day in Kotan

Lake Kusharo is a massive caldera lake. As such, it has a number of natural hot springs bubbling up around its shores. The hotspring above is one such example. This is an open-air mixed hot spring. The interesting thing about these baths is that while public nudity anywhere else would […]

HOKKAIDO (Bear Hunt Day 10): Chilling in Kotan

Today it rained. Like cats and dogs it rained. We waited out much of it inside the Teshikaga Public Library, where we both did some work on some distance study we are doing at the moment. When we left the library, it started raining again. Not that that is all […]

HOKKAIDO (Bear Hunt Day 9): Nijibetsu to Lake Kusharo

Odaito is well known for its sunrises. This was the best this morning’s one could muster. It is worth noting that the sun rises at 4am at this time of the year. Which means that for cycling, we’re on the road by around 5:30am. So that means breakfast at 5am, […]

HOKKAIDO (Bear Hunt Day 8): Odaito to Nijibetsu

Another of our ‘rest’ days. This time we got an early ferry to Notsuke Peninsula, and cycled back around to Odaito. We were the only passengers on the ferry, so we had our very own personal guide. The ferry ride takes 30 minutes, but that includes a 5 minute stop […]

HOKKAIDO (Bear Hunt Day 7): A wee blat on Notsuke ...

They have some very large horses in this part of Hokkaido. They are shorter than Clydesdales, but have hooves about the same size. Kelp seems to be a large part of the economy here. Huge sheets of it are harvested by chaps on boats, and then hung to dry in large […]

HOKKAIDO (Bear Hunt Day 6): Rausu to Odaito

Today it was raining when we got up. It was still raining after about a 2 hour climb up Shiretoko Pass (739m, starting at sea level). Incredulously, Haidee seemed still in a decent mood. Although, this may have had something to do with the promise of a dry room when […]

HOKKAIDO (Bear Hunt Day 5): Utoro to Rausu

Today was supposed to be a ‘rest’ day. Instead we cycled a 30km round-trip to see the famous Five Lakes, right in the heart of Shiretoko National Park. The climb up to the lakes was truly stunning. Wild flowers, and ancient-looking forest. All with the excitement that you might be […]

HOKKAIDO (Bear Hunt Day 4): Utoro to Five Lakes and ...

The day began today also on nice quiet farming roads. Fields of potatoes, mainly. With some daikon (large white Japanese radish). We did manage to avoid the narrow bit of Route 334, but at the cost of some steep hills. Good for the soul. Like chicken soup, only less comforting. […]

HOKKAIDO (Bear Hunt Day 3): Shari to Utoro

With the rain of yesterday gone, we were now keen to get on the road. The bear hunt began. Abashiri is a nice enough town. It has that feel of being sort of outpost-ish. Like it is right on the outskirts of Hokkaido. It is a quiet town, but apparently […]

HOKKAIDO (Bear Hunt Day 2): Abashiri to Shari

The Shiretoko region in eastern Hokkaido is home to more grizzly bears per square kilometer than anywhere in Japan. It therefore seemed like the sensible thing to go there and cycle around for a couple of weeks, camping along the way. It was summer vacation here, after all. So Haidee […]

HOKKAIDO (Bear hunt Day 1): Sapporo to Abashiri