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Japan Hour

Bus VS Local Trains In Hokkaido - Part 2

Highlights this week include a famous sushi restaurant listed in the Michelin Guide and the popular Lake Hill Farm which is known for its rich gelato and gorgeous views of Lake Toya and Mount Yotei.

The “bus team versus train team” continues in Hokkaido, with the teams embarking on a journey of 300km from Goryokaku, Hakodate City to Tenguyama Observatory in Otaru City. Both teams have cleared the second checkpoint and now must go to the third one, Lake Hill Farm at Lake Toya.

The bus team alights at Oshamanbe Station and visits the information centre to enquire about getting to Lake Toya. One way is to go to Suttsu and head to a bus terminal in Iwanai from there. They can then travel towards Kutchan and take a bus to Lake Toya. Unfortunately, there is only one bus to Suttsu and it left hours ago at noon. The other option is to take a taxi to Kuromatsunai Town, alight at a place called Minoribashi and then head by bus to Iwanai Terminal and subsequently Kutchan. The team has about 8,500 yen left to spend on taxis. They take a taxi to Kuromatsunai Onsen, arrive at 5.05pm and then board another bus at 5.15pm. They alight at Yubetsu and take another bus leaving for Iwanai Terminal at 5.45pm.

While the bus team travels along the coast of the Japan Sea, the train team is travelling along Uchiura Bay. They arrive at Oshamanbe Station around 6pm, after a long journey of 2.5 hours. The train bound for Toya Station is at 7.30pm so they decide to have an early dinner at Sushi Kikuzen, a restaurant listed in the Michelin Guide. Its owner has been a sushi chef for 62 years. The team orders Sakhalin surf clam and yellowtail from Oshamanbe and other high-quality fish from Hokkaido. They then catch the 7.20pm train and make their way to Toya Station. 

The bus team arrives at Kutchan Station at 7.30pm and enquires about going to Lake Toya. They find out that they can take a bus bound for Rusutsu Resort at 6.40am the next day. They then must transfer buses at the Rusutsu bus stop to go near the third checkpoint at Lake Toya. They manage to book rooms at a hot spring inn called Hotel Yotei and will spend the night in Kutchan.

On the other hand, the train team reaches Toya Station at 8.10pm and calls a few inns to reserve rooms. They find one which agrees to pick them up. The team arrives at the hotel at 9pm and is now ahead of the other team.

On the second day, the bus team first goes to the office at Kutchan Station. They plan to take the 6.40am bus to Rusutsu and are informed that the bus from Rusutsu Resort will only leave at 1.15pm. So they may have to walk about 20km from Rusutsu to Lake Hill Farm at Lake Toya. They expect to reach the checkpoint at around 10.30am.

The train team, meanwhile, starts walking 9km to the checkpoint at 7am. They aim to reach Lake Hill Farm at 10am.

In the meantime, the bus team arrives at the Rusutsu bus stop at 7.30am. They then begin walking to the third checkpoint. Along the way, they come across a bus stop with intercity buses which run between Sapporo and Lake Toya. There is a bus to Sapporo Station at noon. So after completing the mission at Lake Hill Farm, they can take this bus instead of walking and then find a route from there to the fourth checkpoint. They have so far walked 6km and have 13km left to reach the checkpoint. So they will use all their remaining money to take a taxi to the checkpoint and then take a bus to Sapporo later. However, their 2,150-yen taxi money is not enough to get them to Lake Toya and they still have to walk 5km to Lake Hill Farm after alighting from the taxi. 

The train team members finally arrive at the third checkpoint and are leading the race. Lake Hill Farm raises about 90 cows on a site that is 15 times the size of Tokyo Dome. Its speciality is its rich gelato, which visitors can savour while enjoying the view of Mount Yotei. It is a popular tourist attraction which is visited by 200,000 people a year. As part of their mission, both teams have to milk a cow and get enough milk to fill a 500-millilitre cup to the top. The train team starts the mission first.


1)    Lake Hill Farm at Lake Toya is a popular tourist attraction known for its rich gelato
2)    When making bookings at hotels, check if they offer pick-up services for guests 

Source: CNA


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