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Japan Hour

Bus VS Local Trains In Hokkaido - Part 3

The exciting "bus team versus train team" race in Hokkaido reaches its climax, with the teams relishing luxurious sea urchin sampler bowls for their final mission and rushing to the goal, Tenguyama.

The bus and train teams continue their 300-kilometre journey in Hokkaido, racing from Goryokaku in Hakodate City to Tenguyama Observatory in Otaru City. 

The train team reaches the third checkpoint, Lake Hill Farm at Lake Toya, first and starts the challenge of milking a cow to get 500 millilitres of milk. They complete the mission after half an hour and can now head to the fourth and final checkpoint, a popular sea urchin restaurant in Yoichi. There are three ways to get to Yoichi. They can either go back to Oshamanbe from Toya and transfer to the Hakodate Main Lin; reach there via cities like Muroran and Sapporo; or go there from Niseko Station, the fastest route to Yoichi. They choose the third option, which requires them to take a taxi to Niseko Station and then head to Yoichi on the 2.40pm train. They will reach Yoichi at 4.05pm. The only drawback is that Niseko is about 40km away and the taxi fare would come up to more than 10,000 yen. It is now 11.05am so they decide to reserve a taxi for later, walk for about 12km from Lake Toya and then travel by the taxi the rest of the way. 

The train team sees the bus team, who are rushing to Lake Hill Farm. The bus team plans to take the Sapporo-bound bus at 12.20pm, 50 minutes later. Unlike the train team members who struggled, the bus team completes the milking mission in just 10 minutes.

The train team starts walking 12km from the third checkpoint and are supposed to catch the 2pm taxi from the post office. They have about 8,200 yen left to spend on taxi rides and hope it is enough to take them to Niseko Station so that they can ride the 2.40pm train to Yoichi. It takes them more than two hours to walk 12km.

The bus team is ahead of the train team and catches the 12.20pm bus to Sapporo. They will reach Sapporo Station at 2.50pm. However, they find out from the bus driver that they may get to Yoichi sooner if they transfer to a Kutchan-bound bus leaving at 2pm from Kimobetsu. This way, they will arrive at Kutchan at 2.45pm and can head to Yoichi by transferring buses. So the bus team decides not to go to Sapporo but Kimobetsu instead. 

The train team is heading to Niseko Station by taxi, after walking for 12km. The taxi ride lasts about 30 minutes and they reach the station less than five minutes before the train is originally scheduled to leave at 2.40pm. The taxi fare comes up to about 7,200 yen. So they still have 1,000 yen remaining for taxis. Unfortunately, the train bound for Kutchan is delayed by half an hour because of the rain.

The bus team arrives at Kutchan Station at 2.45pm and then takes another bus at 2.55pm to the Kunitomi bus stop. They reach the bus stop at 3.15pm and want to transfer to a bus leaving from Iwanai and head to Yoichi. However, the bus going to Yoichi from here has just left so they take the next one at 4pm. The bus team arrives at the bus stop in Yoichi at 4.40pm. After visiting the last checkpoint, they will return to this same bus stop and take a bus to Otaru City, the goal. They plan to catch the bus bound for Otaru at 5.35pm, so they have less than an hour. They rush to the sea urchin shop and are told that each team member must finish a sea urchin sampler bowl. It consists of a variety of sea urchins from five different places in Hokkaido - Yoichi, Rishiri Island, Rebun Island, Shakotan and Yagishiri - and is also topped with green sea urchins. It is now 5.10pm so they will have to eat their sampler bowls fast. They wolf down the luxurious sea urchin bowls in five minutes before rushing to the Okawa Jujigai bus stop to take the bus to Otaru, which is 30 minutes away. 

On the other hand, the train team arrives at Yoichi Station just as the bus team members are taking the bus to Otaru. They reach the sea urchin store, the final checkpoint, and find out the bus team members had come around 15 minutes earlier and have already done the challenge. The bus team completes the sampler bowl mission and returns to the station. They wait 10 minutes for the train to Otaru. They plan to use their remaining taxi money to go straight to the goal, the Tenguyama Observatory.

The bus team arrives at Otaru Station at 6.05pm. They then board the 6.15pm bus going to the entrance of Tenguyama Ropeway and arrive after 15 minutes. They finally reach the Tenguyama Observatory, the goal, and find the treasure box. They open it and are ecstatic to find the winner’s flag inside, which means they have won the race. 

The train team members, meanwhile, are unaware that they have lost. They take a taxi from Otaru Station to Tenguyama Ropeway, using up all their taxi money. They only arrive at the goal about 15 minutes after the train team members have opened the treasure box and clinched victory.


1)    Sea urchins are a must-try speciality of Hokkaido
2)    You will need to take the ropeway to reach the Tenguyama Observatory in Otaru City

Source: CNA


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