Road Trip on Daisan Isasiri Railroad in Hokkaido (Part 1)

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Road Trip on Daisan Isasiri Railroad in Hokkaido

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Japan Hour (Synopsis Only):

Road Trip on Daisan Isasiri Railroad in Hokkaido (Part 1)

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More train trips await us and this week, we will embark on a two-day trip to find tourist spots along the South Hokkaido Railway line. We will ask the locals to recommend places worth visiting, where we can also savour delicious food and enjoy magnificent views of Hokkaido.

We begin our adventure from Goryokaku, one of the famous tourist sites in Hakodate city, Hokkaido. Goryokaku Station is the starting point of the South Hokkaido Railway line, which runs along the Gulf of Hakodate. This local line, which is also known as Isaribi Railway, has 12 stations, covering a total distance of 37.8km from Goryokaku to Kikonai. On the first day, we plan to alight at every station up to Kamiiso.

We first take a one-car train to Nanaehama (Seven Beaches) Station, which comes after Goryokaku Station. The ride lasts five minutes and we have an hour till the next train leaves at 12.10pm from Nanaehama. A resident tells us to check out the scenic “Nanaehama Park Sea Bathing Beach”, which faces the Gulf of Hakodate. Many people flock to this beach in summer and it is a popular tourist spot. After enjoying the sea view, we head by train to our next destination, Higashi Kunebetsu Station. This time, we travel on a train called Hokuto Shichisei. A passenger on the train recommends that we go to a conveyor belt sushi restaurant called Sushimaru - a chain restaurant in Hokkaido - where each sushi costs just 100 yen.

The train arrives at Higashi Kunebetsu Station in less than five minutes. We check the train schedule and we have two hours till our next train at 2.15pm. From the station, we walk for about 15 minutes to Sushimaru. It serves more than 140 kinds of sushi such as squid, tuna, seared salmon belly, giant fat salmon and seafood Gunkan-maki which has ark shell, squid and kelp root inside. We next head to the seaside, from where we can see Mt. Hakodate.

After this, we go to Kunebetsu Station and our next train departs about an hour later at 3.30pm. So we drop by a beauty salon near the station to enquire about recommended tourist sites. We are advised to visit a cement factory and also try a variety of big oysters called Garougaki. However, we find out the factory is quite far away and so is the place selling the oysters. We ask a resident who tells us that the nearest station to the cement factory and the oyster restaurant is Kamiiso Station, two stations away.

But first, from Kunebetsu Station, we go to the very next station, Kiyokawaguchi. This time, the passengers on the train tell us about three temples located along a street in front of the station. Each temple belongs to a different religious sect. We arrive at Kiyokawaguchi Station in less than five minutes. The three temples are situated within the same block in Hokuto. Koutokuji, Soutou School of Buddhism, has a history of 280 years; Zenrinji, Jodo School of Buddhism, has a 300-year history; and Tokoji, Jodo-Shin School of Buddhism, has 160 years of history. We visit the main hall of Koutokuji where we are taught Zen meditation.

We then take the 4.45pm train to Kamiiso Station. Our aim here is to try Garougaki oysters, visit a cement factory and look for a place to spend the night. We ask a taxi driver who gives us some information about the cement factory. We walk for five minutes to the Taiheiyo Cement pier, which is 2km long. The cement from the factory is loaded directly onto 60,000-tonne tanker ships via a long “conveyor belt” as the beach is rather shallow. We want to eat the grilled Garougaki oysters after this. However, the locals tell us the restaurant is located near the sea, at the other end of the street, and that it may be closed by now. So we abandon our plan to try the oysters and start looking for a lodging facility.

Tips:

1) Check the train schedule first before going sightseeing so you can plan your time accordingly
2) The beach at Nanaehama is a popular tourist spot in summer

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