Car trip in Autumn to East Hokkaido: Our favorite destinations

The autumn season is here!

Temperatures in Hokkaido on October starts to drop drastically, still around 15 degrees celcius on a sunny day but less than 10 degrees at night.

We start to see snowfalls in peaks of major mountains like Asahidake and Yotei.

The autumn is a beautiful season where you can enjoy the colored leaves.

Today we will be sharing our favorite go to spots in autumn in East Hokkaido.

Teshikaga area

One area to note in the East is Teshikaga area.

It has 3 lakes that have exceptional views, and were thought that god lived here by the native inhabitants “Ainu.”

Ainu and Lake Akan

There are museums and culture events often held in Lake Akan, which became one of my favorite destinations in Hokkaido.

The Ainu Theatre in Akan

There is a footpath where you can forestbath through the small town along Lake Akan, just 30-60 minute walk.

Lake Kussharo

Sunrise at Bihoro Peak looking down at Lake Kussharo

Lake Mashu is also known as the only lake in Japan to have marimo, and you can see them in the museum.

Lake Kussharo is the biggest lake in Japan. Many Japanese tourists come to Bihoro Peak for a fabulous sunrise view of the lake and if you’re lucky, the sea of clouds.

Lake Mashu

Waiting for the sunrise at Lake Mashu

Lake Mashu was thought that god lives here by the Ainu, and the name comes from that belief.

It is located just next to Lake Kussharo, so you can enjoy 2 lakes in some viewpoints including Bihoro Peak.

Kushiro, Akkeshi, and Nemuro

The access to Teshikaga area will be from Kushiro city, one of the major cities in East Hokkaido.

Once an very important area to mine coal, produce paper, and provide seafood across Japan, Kushiro has a traditional Meji Era look to the city.

Walking towards sunset in Kushiro River

It is also said that Robata style (restaurant where the staff cooks charcoal barbequed meals in front of you) origins here, and there are still many traditional robata restaurants.

Akkeshi

This time even the markets had only Maruemon, but usually you would be able to compare Maruemon and Kakiemon

A small town but famous Akkeshi is the only area in Hokkaido where oysters can be harvested and eaten all year.

Akkeshi oysters is well known to the oyster enthusiasts, providing a clean but dense and flavorful taste than other oysters in Japan.

It’s fun to taste the different branded oysters such as Maruemon and Kakiemon.

Nemuro

A major port town in the Far East of Hokkaido, Nemuro is famous among the Japanese as the closest town to “Russia,” just 3.7km away.

The small island Habamai is just east of Nemuro is occupied by the Russians since the end of World War II.

As Japan is an island, It feels awkward for us that there is actually a land that we could see from our country that isn’t Japan.

Nemuro is also well known for its fresh seafood.

The town is also home to some famous chain sushi restaurants in Hokkaido.

Hanamaru and Matsuri are the most popular among locals, and Hanamaru main outlet has its limited menu.

Main Branch of Hanamaru

One good reason to come during summer~Autumn is the Hanasaki Crab.

Crabs are usually fished during winter, but East Hokkaido distinct Hanasaki Crabs are fished during summer.

Hanasaki crabs are known to have strong umami and an unique texture to other crabs, and is a must try item for foodies

Hanasaki Crab rice set at Road Station Swan Nemuro

If you want to have the best seafood in Hokkaido, Nemuro might be a good choice.

Shiretoko and the FarEast

Known as the World Heritage Site, Shiretoko is a beautiful town with so much nature.

Although we weren’t able to spend time this time due to bad weather,

Shiretoko has various trails and nature activities to go for, and is popular for its distinct animals especially during summer(June-August.)

You can find out more about the different things you can do here.

Tokachi

Tokachi is a famous dairy and meat town.

It was our first time finding a small shrine that enshrines a pig. (it was in a famous pig farm)

Rokkatei and Hanabatake Farm are 2 major sweets shop that are widely known from Tokachi.

We were surprised with the fancy road station in Kamishihoro, just 30 minutes drive from the capital of Tokachi, Obihiro.

We’ve never paid more than 600 yen (about 5USD) for a panini, but the Tokachi Beef Panini was exceptional.

Sweetbreads were also exceptional, it uses the local Yotsuba butter which Japanese foodies love.

The yakiniku restaurant Heiwaen is a local family oriented restaurant where you can eat local lamb, beef, and pork.

It was one of the best tasting yakiniku in Japan.

How to get to East Hokkaido

best option: hiring a car

To travel East Hokkaido, hiring your own car is the best option.

The area of Hokkaido is really big compared to other provinces in Japan, thus making public transport inconvenient.

There aren’t so much lines of transport available, so you would have to have a strict schedule.

But sometimes you like the place and want to stay longer, sometimes it’s not really your place and you want to skip fast to the next.

Hiring a car would give you the flexibility and is the best way to get the most out of your trip.

taking a bus/coach

If you are not comfortable driving, the best alternative is taking a bus.

There are bus trips that takes you to the highlights of Hokkaido, so this will be the easiest way out.

Search here for a tour you would like to hop into.

Even if you do not want to take the tour, public buses to transport from one place to another is more convenient than public trains.

Buses tend to be the cheaper option and less time consuming, and will take you closer to your final destination.

Hokkaido Chuo Bus usually does the job of taking you from destination to destinaiton in the Hokkaido area.

taking the train

If you carry the JR Railpass, most trains are run by JR Hokkaido, so the pass gives you access to a wide range of train routes.

However, the bullet train is only connected to Hakodate from the mainland, the very south of Hokkaido.

It is scheduled to complete the stretch to Sapporo in 2031, more than 10 years from now.

This means you will be experiencing quite a long ride to get to each city/town.

Hakodate~Sapporo is 4 hours on the rapid train.

This already shows how big Hokkaido is when you travel.

You will often find hidden sceneries, shops, and restaurants in minor places in between the major highlights.

Therefore, we would strongly recommend hiring your own car.

We’ve covered how you can hire a car in Hokkaido when we shared the trip in the South of Hokkaido.

If you want to find out more, have a read of this article.

We hope you found the information useful!

Please contact Helping Dragon if we could help you in anything related to East Hokkaido!

Imgae from Unsplash

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