Tour of Hokkaido, Day 11, Sarufutsu to Wakkanai and Rebun Island.

Soya Misaki, or Cape Soya, is only 30 kms away. Wakkanai, another 30 kms from there. Easy.

But first, breakfast at Seicomarto! This one is just about a km away, along the road to Wakkanai. It’s 6am as we make our way there, and the sky looks like it could be unleashing its contents at any time.

Step inside a Seicomart and the first, and last, thing you’ll hear is ‘Seicomarto, Seicomarto, Seicomarto…’ The jingle is set to loop, endlessly. It’s effective, too. I know because every once in a while, I sing the words out loud. At least they make up for assaulting us with its cheesy jingle by offering decent food to cycle-tourers like us.

After breakfast, Arnaud and Alexandra are worried that they won’t have enough time to replace the spokes and make the 2pm ferry, so they set off ahead of me.

The coastline is more scenic than what I rode through yesterday. I’m glad I decided to this last bit today; I prefer to take it easy, going at my own leisurely pace and stopping whenever I feel like it.

Wave-breakers..

From the road, I spot some ladies slicing up freshly caught octopus so I ride in for a closer look. They’re amused that anybody would want to photograph them, squid being so common in their diet.

Pretty big octopuses

Soya Misaki comes into view soon enough. It’s a very small town, more like a village; a very touristy village. It’s sole claim to fame is a little structure that marks it to as the northenmost point of Japan.

It’s a busy day at Soya Misaki. Tourists on busses, motorcycle tourers, cars and at this moment, a lone cycle-tourer. I wait my turn to get my picture. The tourists from the bus are being herded to a spot in front of the Cape Soya structure to have their group photo taken.

View from atop Soya Misaki park, just across the road from the ‘northernmost point of Japan’ structure.

This is it, after almost 800 kms, Cape Soya. Can’t go any further north than this and still be in Japan.

Busloads of tourists waiting to have their group shot taken

including a camera crew shooting some travel video. The guy with the monkey on his back is the host…

Motorcycle tourers … Looks like Honda Girl isn’t the only one travelling with her kitchen and living room.

Across the cape, 40 kms straight north as the crow flies, is the Russian island of Sakhalin. Its influence on this part of Japan is apparent. As I get nearer to Wakkanai, road signages are in both Japanese and Russian.

Wakkanai is bigger and busier than I thought it would be. Its strategic location probably makes it an important port – to Rebun, Rishiri and Sakhalin islands.

I notice that the temperature has been holding steady in the low 20s; lovely for all-day riding, especially with the sun behind the clouds. There’s also a constant wind blowing in my direction.

I ride around the town a bit, checking out the train station from where I’ll be Tokyo-bound, and also the ferry terminal, from where we’ll ship out to the 2 islands.

As I ride back to town from the ferry terminal, I see the Belgians. They happy … and they’re not happy. They tell me they’re 10,000Y poorer but, the wheel is very solid now. I suppose when you’re the only bike shop in town, you can charge a premium on spokes. 10,000Y = RM400/USD133/SGD163 … for 4 spokes.

So, there are unscrupulous Japs after all. Never thought it would be a bike shop.

After lunch, we head back to Oshidomari, the port from where the ferry sails the 2.5hr trip to the further-away island of Rebun. As cyclists, we have to push our bikes into the belly of the ship. The bikes are tied up and we make our up to the top.

Ferry terminal at Oshidomari

Tickets for both bike and rider

880Y for man, 670Y for bike

Economy class.

Located at the front of the ferry

Take your pick of corners

These aunties can really yak … from port to port, a good 2.5hrs.

Second-class

First Class — can’t even get a glimpse of it

Berthing at Kafuka port on Rebun. The biggest and slowest goes first.

No scratching on deck

Wakkanai-bound vehicles

On the road to Lake Kushu Campsite.

We reach the port town of Kafuka on Rebunto at 4.30pm and straightaway, we head north to a campsite on the northern tip of the island at Lake Kushu. There’re only 2 sealed roads on Rebunto; 1 hugging the right side of the island from tip to tip, and the other a shorter one heading straight across the island from Kafuka.

We need supplies for the night and tomorrow morning, so we all started singing – ‘Seicomarto, Seicomarto…’

It’s just 2 kms from Kafuka town. We are very happy to see it because I also get to indulge in an ice-cream, and Alexandra gets her daily fix of Megmilk. After introducing the milk to her, she can’t seem to get enough of it.

It’s about 20kms to the campsite but the ride is not going to be a breeze – there’s a nasty headwind putting the brakes on us. I do the smart thing … I tuck behind the tandem and enjoy the draft, all the way to the campsite. But the captain and his stoker are not making it a ride in the park for me; they’re going at a faster clip than I’m usually used to on a loaded tourer. I’m just inches from their trailer, barely drafting in their slipstream. Any further and I will be sucking the wind, not their wheel.

Signbboard spotted just before the campsite. I’m still trying to figure this one out.

Entrance to the campsite (shot taken the next morning)

It’s almost dark when we arrive at the campsite. I can’t make out whether it’s a public park or a private campsite. There are no trees, so it’s likely private. There are only a few campers, their tents mostly in the middle of the campground. I speak to one them (they’re university students) and she tells me it’s 600Y. That’s the highest I would have paid so far so it must be private. But the camp staff doesn’t seem to be around so we pick a quiet corner near the lake’s edge and set up camp.

It seems Rebun offers more to hikers than cycle-tours so we decide to go to the bigger island of Rishiri and spend 2 days there. Apparently, there’s an elevated road on the island built exclusively for bicycles. Very intriguing. I can’t wait.

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Distance today: 80 kms

Distance to date: 806 kms

3 thoughts on “Tour of Hokkaido, Day 11, Sarufutsu to Wakkanai and Rebun Island.

  1. The ferry looks so atas! I love boat rides combined with our bikes. Last one, the “grand” Penang ferry we did together. Yr poor European friends got really spoked for their spokes. Kersian la.

  2. Evonomy class seem more spacious to me! What’s the duration of the ferry ride? Like Ped mentioned, look pretty attas!

    Expensive spokes but I reckon it’s better than hitching a ride later!

    • This is the norm for ferries in Japan. It’s comfortable on the carpet and I actually prefer this to seats because I can stretch myself out and snooze. The ferry from Wakkanai to Rebun is about 2.5 hrs.

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