I'm changing Japanese version into English. You can find replaced Japanese version clicking on "READ MORE". Pictures I took during my trip will be added later.
* * * Golden Week is a holiday studded week started from the end of April through May 5 or 6.
I went to Hidaka and Tokachi Districts in Hokkaido, both located in the southern center of the island. The aim of the travel was to see cherry blossoms standing both sides of Nijikken Road in Shizunai, Shin Hidaka town and Banei Horse Race in Obihiro city. My husband and I drove about 1,300 km in two days. Most of the travel, we spent driving but it was really enjoyable and I'm satisfied with the trip. It may be your travel reference(though I'm not sure it is good), so I'll show you our travel route as below. If your are interested in the tour, how about checking the route with a map in hand?
May 3, 2008 Departed Hakodate at 3:30 In addition to the time before the sunrise, dense fog was covering the western half of Hokkaido in the morning. So even after the Sun rose, we couldn't enjoy the scenery while driving. It was difficult to find speed traps installed ocassionally and it was also difficult to overtake cars for fear of an oncoming car from the dense fog. So we were obliged to drive safely. We used the Central Hokkaido Expressway from Tomakomai, the section temporarily offered for free. I think we used the express way from Numanohashi IC to Mukawa IC, because the road information told us that there was 2 km jam from the exit of Hidaka-Tomikawa IC. Hidaka-Tomikawa IC was the last IC of the Central Hokkaido Expressway. We got off at the Mukawa IC to avoid the jam and dropped by the Road Station of Mukawa. It was a very good road station with onsen facility for day trippers.
10:00 Arrived at Shizunai and headed to Nijikken Road
Nijikken Road runs parallel to prefectural road #71. It is 36meter wide(20(Niju) ken in old Japanese measurement) and 7km long. Both side of the road, numerous cherry trees are planted and when they bloom, it is spectacular and counted as one of the most famous cherry blossom viewing points in Hokkaido. It was truely great. Over the cherry trees, you can see thoroughbred farms.
The horses are sensitive and some parts are banned to have a drinking party under the cherry trees. I knew it for the first time. In the middle of the road, there might have been a venue for the cherry festival, but too many cars prevented us from reaching there. We gave up to drive through the road and doubled back to the dirrection we started.
12:30 Arrived at Cape Erimo
We had lunch here. Todai-tsubu(Literally translated meaning is a lighthouse sea snail.) is its specialty and I had a sea snail ramen.
13:30 Departed Cape Erimo We drove up the north enjoying the scenery of Hyakuninhama beach on the right and headed to Obihiro. The last race of the Banei Horse Race starts at 17:00 and the distance between Cape Erimo and Obihiro is more than 100 km. We were worried if we could arrive at the race ground on time. But I fell asleep for an hour or so. While I was sleeping, my husband drove fast and when I woke up, we were around Churui. Churui is famous as the place where fossils of Naumann elephants were excavated. We decided to drop by the former Kofuku station, because we were sure that we could arrive at the race gound before four and bet at least two races.
Around 15:30 left Kofuku Rail Road Station Park
On the walls of the former Kofuku Station building, numerous name cards were attached. There were many chinese names. It seems popular among the tourists from China(or Taiwan?) and Korea.
Around 16:00 arrived at the venue of the Banei Tokachi Horse Race, in Obihiro
Bamba, or tough horses used to carry cargo at the time of pioneering in Hokkaido were really cool. There was a guidance for beginners how to bet the race. I hope strongly to the race continues in the future. We could bet the main race and the fina race of the day. We betted 1,000yen in total (Were we too frugal?) and both lost the bets(; ;).
18:00 Dinner at Yurakucho(a mutton barbecue restaurant)
This restaurant is the one where my husband goes when he is in Obihiro on business. Its spicy sauce used to flavor the mutton was superb.
19:00 Day use of Onsen at Tokachigawa Onsen Daiichi Hotel Hoshu-tei We experienced peat onsen, which is specific only two places on the earth. One is this Tokachigawa and the other is Baden Baden in Germany. It costs 1,000 per person. "It's expensive!", thought I at first, but its spring quality was rare and shampoo, conditioner and body soap, etc. were very good and it was worth paying 1,000yen.
20:30 left Tokachigawa Onsen To accomplish my desire 'I want to drive through Nijikken Road from one end to the other end', we decided to visit the road again early in the next morning. So we headed to Shizunai. We took the route through Cape Erimo in the first half, we chose different route to drive back to Shizunai. The return road was the route crossing the Hidaka mountain range from Hiroo, Temma Kaido. It has the Notsuka Tunnel, the longest tunnel in Hokkaido and I wanted to drive through it. It was dark and we couldn't enjoy the scenery from the car window. but we could encounter some nocturnal animals.
We saw a toddling raccoon dog cross the road, a deer that made me return the route to make sure of it, but later we encountered a group of deer just next to a signboad that said "Caution! Horses cross here." It made me chuckle;-> Then I saw a fox. At first I thought, "Is that a dog?" but it had a bushy brush. Next mornign, I almost ran over a squirrel. It was panicking in the middle of the road, but the driver, it was me, was also panicking and thinking "Nooooh!! I'm running over it!!" Then we encountered a pheasant(!) crossing the road.
Around 24:00 arrived at Shizunai We were planning to sleep in car, but we stayed at a net cafe using a "night pack".
Akiko lives in a city next to Hakodate and loves to drive around Hakodate and surrounding area. I hope people who visit or live in the Southwest area of Hokkaido come to love the area, too. 函館の隣町在住で道南エリアのドライブ大好きAkikoです。道南を訪れたり、住んでいる人が土地を好きになってくれたらなぁ、と思います。