Hokkaido Self-Drive Trip (June 2016) Part 4: Asahikawa – Sounkyo – Shiretoko

Our Hokkaido Self-Drive Trip in June 2016 (Part 4) - Abashiri, Sounkyo, Abashiri, Shiretoko National Park - Bumble Bee Mum

Continued from: Hokkaido Self-Drive Trip (June 2016) Part 3: Sapporo, Otaru

After breakfast at Otaru, we drove to Asahikawa and arrived in time for lunch.  I had made a reservation for the group for lunch at Tenkin Honten (天金本店), a popular restaurant in Asahikawa with more than 70 years of history.

Hokkaido Self Drive Trip Part 4 (05) - Asahikawa Tenkin Honten

Luckily we made a reservation because the restaurant was pretty packed even on the weekday afternoon we were there.

Hokkaido Self Drive Trip Part 4 (06) - Asahikawa Tenkin Honten

We came here for their uni (sea urchin) shabu, but they had quite an extensive menu on top of that.  I enjoyed the lunch and service at Tenkin, despite the staff’s lack of ability to speak English.

After lunch, we drove on towards Sounkyo Onsen, spotting a Hokkaido fox along the way! I have a pretty good track record for spotting foxes on my Hokkaido self-drives.

Hokkaido Self Drive Trip Part 4 (07) - Hokkaido Fox

Before reaching Sounkyo, we first made a stop at Daisetsu Asahigaoka a.k.a. Taisetsu Forest Garden (大雪高原旭ヶ丘).

Hokkaido Self Drive Trip Part 4 (08) - Daisetsu Asahigaoka

It was raining pretty heavily, and we were pleasantly surprised to find umbrellas provided at the carpark.  We grabbed a bunch of umbrellas and headed into the garden.

I drove to Daisetsu Mori no Garden not too sure what to expect. After all, mid June is not the best time to be visiting anything flower-related in Hokkaido. It's too late for Spring blooms and too early for Summer blooms. To my surprise, I found a whole garden full of tulips! I was so happy that I forked out the 800yen admission, despite the crappy rainy weather, to walk around the little garden. Everyone else just camped at the warm cafe and gazed through the glass window. #bumblebeemumtravels #bumblebeemuminjapan #daisetsuzan #daisetsuzannationalpark #kamikawa #sounkyo #tulip #japantrip #japantravel #hokkaido #hokkaidotrip #hokkaidotravel #sonya6000 #sonyimages #sonyalpha #sonyalphasclub #changirecommends #changiwifi #travelblog #travelblogger #iamtb #mondayescapes #traveltuesday #wednesdaywanderlust #travelthursday #citytripping #myfavouritetrip #familytravelhq #wanderlust #instatravel

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When the weather is good, you can see the Daisetsuzan mountain range from the garden.  But oh well, the weather was crap when we were there.

Hokkaido Self Drive Trip Part 4 (13) - Daisetsu Asahigaoka

The flowers at Taisetsu Forest Garden are seasonal, so if you are here at a different time of the year, your view of the garden would probably be quite different from mine.  You can find out what’s blooming from their facebook page or flower calendar.

Hokkaido Self Drive Trip Part 4 (09) - Daisetsu Asahigaoka

There were tulips all over the garden when we were there, lucky!

After exploring the garden, we drove on through Sounkyo Onsen area, stopping first to take photos at Waterfall of Ginga and Waterfall of Meteor.

Hokkaido Self Drive Trip Part 4 (10) - Sounkyo Onsen Waterfalls

The waterfalls are located RIGHT NEXT to the carpark – which made it an easy photo stop even on a super rainy day.

Hokkaido Self Drive Trip Part 4 (11) - Sounkyo Onsen Waterfalls

A short drive further down route 39 brought us to O-Bako.

Hokkaido Self Drive Trip Part 4 (12) - Sounkyo Onsen Obako

And from there, we drove on to our hotel at Kitami – Super Hotel Kitami.

Day 10: Kitami – Abashiri – Shiretoko

We spent 3 nights at Super Hotel Kitami and had 2 full days to explore the region.  I planned to visit Shiretoko National Park on one day and Akan National Park on the other day.  We checked the weather forecast and it said the first day was sunny but the second day was rainy.  So we decided to go to Shiretoko on the first day since Shiretoko National Park required more walking compared to Akan National Park.

Hokkaido Self Drive Trip Part 4 (14)

Before going to Shiretoko, we made a slight detour to check out Lake Abashiri.

If I had more time, I would have driven to Lake Notoro and Cape Notoro too, but we wanted to spend more time at Shiretoko so we skipped those and continued East in the direction of Shiretoko.

We checked out Abashiri Seafood Market – which was more of a souvenir shop than a market.  There was a restaurant there overlooking the Okhotsk Sea which gets drift ice in winter.  But the restaurant only opened at 10.30am.

Hokkaido Self Drive Trip Part 4 (18) - Abashiri Seafood Market

So we decided not to wait for the restaurant to open and drove on towards Shiretoko.

Hokkaido Self Drive Trip Part 4 (15)

The weather was so crazy awesome that we kept stopping to take photos any time there was anything remotely interesting along the way.

Hokkaido Self Drive Trip Part 4 (16)

To a point where I felt like I was doing a car commercial.

Hokkaido Self Drive Trip Part 4 (16) - Driving to Shiretoko National Park

But hmmm… Isn’t that the whole point of self-drive trips? To be able to stop as and when you like to take photos?

Hokkaido Self Drive Trip Part 4 (17) - Driving to Shiretoko National Park

Our first more-than-just-hopping-off-the-car-to-snap-a-photo stop was Koshimizu Natural Flower Garden (小清水原生花園).

Hokkaido Self Drive Trip Part 4 (19) - Koshimizu Natural Flower Garden

Apparently the flower garden would be covered with lilies in the right season.    According to the poster we saw.

Hokkaido Self Drive Trip Part 4 (20) - Koshimizu Natural Flower Garden

But we were there in the wrong season.

Hokkaido Self Drive Trip Part 4 (23) - Koshimizu Natural Flower Garden

On the bright side, I did spot like… 5 lilies?


And the tower binoculars here were free! Woohoo!

Hokkaido Self Drive Trip Part 4 (24) - Koshimizu Natural Flower Garden

The kid hogged the tower binoculars, so I just made do with my camera zoom lens.

Hokkaido Self Drive Trip Part 4 (22) - Koshimizu Natural Flower Garden

Moving on… We continued our drive along Route 244 and came to a clearing.  I just had to pull over to snap some photos.

Hokkaido Self Drive Trip Part 4 (25) - Koshimizu Natural Flower Garden

And we spotted some horses in the distance!

Hokkaido Self Drive Trip Part 4 (26) - Koshimizu Natural Flower Garden

We also passed by a roadside station (michi no eki) and again, I pulled over because the signs said there was an observation deck.

Hokkaido Self Drive Trip Part 4 (27) - Koshimizu Roadside Station Michi-No-Eki

We found the observation deck, but the view was pretty crappy.  It was obstructed by antennas!

Hokkaido Self Drive Trip Part 4 (28) - Koshimizu Roadside Station Michi-No-Eki

We continued our drive through Shari Town and onto Route 334, finally reaching Oshin Koshin Waterfall – which indicated that we had arrived at Shiretoko National Park!

We had planed to visit Furepe waterfall next.  But unlike Oshin Koshin waterfall which was a stone’s throw from the parking lot, Furepe waterfall required about 20 minutes walk per way from the carpark.  And that’s without kids.

Hokkaido Self Drive Trip Part 4 (02) - Shiretoko National Park - Furepe Waterfall

The good thing about the walk to Furepe waterfall was that you could see plenty of deers along the way, or even bears if you’re lucky (or unlucky – whichever way you see it), with the beautiful mountain range as the backdrop.

Hokkaido Self Drive Trip Part 4 (01) - Shiretoko National Park - Furepe Waterfall

Okay.  We never did the walk on this particular trip because we were kind of behind schedule with our too-many-to-count stops during the drive here.  So the above photos were taken during a earlier winter trip – which explains all the snow and frozen waterfall.  Gotcha!!

Speaking of winter, most of Shiretoko National Park is inaccessible in winter.  Which is why Shiretoko National Park is best visited during summer or autumn.  In winter, it is frankly quite a depressing place to visit imo.  They try to attract tourists with ‘Aurora Fantasia’, which is a laser show simulating aurora, but even that didn’t warrant the looooong drive to Shiretoko in the cold bitter winter I felt.

Hokkaido Self Drive Trip Part 4 (03) - Shiretoko National Park - Aurora Fantasia

But to be fair, I probably found Shiretoko National Park depressing in winter because there was no drift ice when I was there.   If there had been drift ice and we actually got to do our swimming in drift ice activity, it may have been a whole different story.

Read more:  Planning a Hokkaido Winter Trip – Essential Travel Tips

 Image Source: Veltra.com

Okay, back to the trip! So we skipped the walk to Furepe waterfall this time round and ended up at Shiretoko Saihate Ichiba for lunch.

Hokkaido Self Drive Trip Part 4 (29) - Shiretoko Saihate Ichiba

No prizes for guessing what I had for lunch.

Hokkaido Self Drive Trip Part 4 (31) - Shiretoko Saihate Ichiba

They also served cooked food here for those who did not eat raw food.

Hokkaido Self Drive Trip Part 4 (30) - Shiretoko Saihate Ichiba

And like any other ichiba, you can shop for local produce here.

Hokkaido Self Drive Trip Part 4 (32) - Shiretoko Saihate Ichiba

After lunch, we drove on the Shiretoko Five Lakes, which has like the most scenic carpark in the whole of Shiretoko National Park I think.  Cost 500yen per vehicle to park there though.

Hokkaido Self Drive Trip Part 4 (33) - Shiretoko Five Lakes Goko

Since we were visiting in ‘Bear Aware Season’, which required us to join a guided tour (which cost 5000 yen per pax) if we wanted to use the ground walkway to visit all five lakes, we decided to go for the free elevated board walk that only brought us to Lake 1.

Hokkaido Self Drive Trip Part 4 (34) - Shiretoko Five Lakes Goko

MY was still not feeling very well, so it was a good thing that the board walk was stroller-friendly! He just sat in the stroller and enjoyed the view along the way.

Hokkaido Self Drive Trip Part 4 (35) - Shiretoko Five Lakes Goko

And at the end of the board walk, we were rewarded with a view of Lake 1 with the mountain range as the backdrop.

When I visited Shiretoko many years back on a gloomy winter day, it was frankly pretty depressing. Back then, I told myself that the loooong drive to Shiretoko, on the Northeastern tip of Hokkaido, was an absolute waste of time. Today, I checked the weather forecast beforehand and it promised good weather. So off to Shiretoko we went, and WOAH! What a difference it was from my last visit! This was definitely worth the 2.5 hours drive there (plus another 2.5 hours back). Shiretoko is now one of my favourite places in Hokkaido! At least in Summer. I still think it's a depressing place in winter where much of the scenic areas become inaccessible. #bumblebeemumtravels #bumblebeemuminjapan #shiretoko #知床五湖 #知床 #unesco #japantrip #japantravel #hokkaido #hokkaidotrip #hokkaidotravel #sonya6000 #sonyimages #sonyalpha #sonyalphasclub #changirecommends #changiwifi #travelblog #travelblogger #iamtb #mondayescapes #traveltuesday #wednesdaywanderlust #travelthursday #citytripping #myfavouritetrip #familytravelhq #wanderlust #instatravel #instapassport

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After we completed the elevated board walk, we drove on the Shiretoko Pass – a mountainous road that cuts across the peninsular.

We stopped at the viewpoint at the centre of Shiretoko Pass – which divides Shari Town from Rausu Town.   I was super amused by the road sign which said ‘Shari Town’ on one side and ‘Rausu Town’ on the other!

Hokkaido Self Drive Trip Part 4 (37) - Shiretoko Pass Hokkaido Self Drive Trip Part 4 (38) - Shiretoko Pass

Driving along, we next arrived at Rausu Visitor Centre.  Check out the cool skeleton of a killer whale (I think) hanging in the middle of the visitor centre!

The visitor centre was pretty kids friendly, with a little kids play corner.

Hokkaido Self Drive Trip Part 4 (39) - Rausu Visitor Centre

And a short walk from the visitor centre, there was a geyser which spouts approximately every hour in summer (less frequently in winter).

You can find out from the visitor centre exactly what time the geyser is expected to spout.  So no, we didn’t camp there for an hour waiting for the geyser to spout to take the video above.  We just went over about 10 minutes before the expected spouting time and stationed there with our cameras to catch the action.  I must say the prediction was pretty accurate!

Hokkaido Self Drive Trip Part 4 (46) - Rausu Visitor Centre

As we drove on to Rausu town, our good luck with the weather came to an end.  While it was bright and sunny over at Shari, Rausu was totally shrouded by fog!

Hokkaido Self Drive Trip Part 4 (40) - Rausu Kunashiri Observatory Deck

We visited Rausu Kunashiri Observatory Deck (羅臼国後展望塔), and this was what we were hoping to see from the observatory:

Hokkaido Self Drive Trip Part 4 (41) - Rausu Kunashiri Observatory Deck

But this was what we actually saw.  Gua gua gua…

Hokkaido Self Drive Trip Part 4 (42) - Rausu Kunashiri Observatory Deck

We had actually planned to do some sightseeing around Rausu until dinner time, then have dinner at Shiretoko Syokudou Rausu at the roadside station (michi no eki).  However due to the poor weather, we ditched our plans for further sightseeing around Rausu and made the long drive back to our hotel in Kitami.

Hokkaido Self Drive Trip Part 4 (43) - Kitami

When we were back at our hotel, we found some coupons from the lobby for free drinks at a nearby restaurant.  So we decided to go there for dinner.

Hokkaido Self Drive Trip Part 4 (44) - Kitami

Cheers to free drinks!

Hokkaido Self Drive Trip Part 4 (45) - Kitami



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Our Hokkaido Self-Drive Trip in June 2016 (Part 4) - Abashiri, Sounkyo, Abashiri, Shiretoko National Park - Bumble Bee Mum



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  • TanShim says:

    Dear BumbleBeeMum .. I have been following your blog re Hokkaido and I must say it has been very useful for my first trip to Hokkaido come August. I have gained the confidence to self drive after reading your blog. Appreciate if you can kindly advise me re the expensive tolls to avoid. I do plan to drive from Sapporo to Lake Shikotsu Noboribetsu stay a night in Muroran. Next day to Lake Toya stay a night in Niseko. Next day to Kutchan Otaru stay a night Eniwa or ? Next day check out Chitose neighbourhood and last minute shopping at Rera Outlet … depart for home the following day 9am.

    Appreciate if you can assist redesign this itinerary so we can achieve the most in the three days outing.

    Thanking you in anticipation.

    You have a pleasant day.



  • eco says:

    Hi BBM,

    1 Day self drive from Asahikawa to Abashiri.

    Below is what I plan to cover for the day:

    Route: Asahikawa – Abashiri 網走 http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e6865.html
    1) Ice Pavilion in Kamikawa 56mins drive
    2) Cape Notoro 能取岬http://abashiri.jp/tabinavi/en/map/notoro.html
    3) Okhotsk Drift Ice Museum流氷砕氷船
    4) “Hana Tento” Flower Gardens
    5) Abashiri Plox Park
    6) Orochon Fire Festival (night time)

    After visit 1) Ice Pavilion in Kamikawa, do you think I still have time to drive down South to cover these three places Daisetsu Mori no Garden, Waterfall of Ginga and Waterfall of Meteor?

    I need to drive back to Abashiri cause I have booked a night there. Please advice.

    Thank you.

    • bumblebeemum says:

      You definitely have time to visit Waterfall of Ginga and Waterfall of Meteor if you use Route 39 to get from Kamikawa to Abashiri. The waterfalls are right along the road – it will take you 10min max to visit them.

      Daisetsu Mori No Garden is a slight detour up the mountain though. Looking at the number of places you want to cover, I don’t think you have time for Daisetsu Mori No Garden. I suggest you skip it since you already have Hana Tento Flower Garden planned.

      • eco says:

        Thanks, i will included both Waterfall of Ginga and Waterfall of Meteor

        So the sequence will be 1) Ice Pavilion in Kamikawa > then 2) Waterfall of Ginga and 3) Waterfall of Meteor. Is Waterfall of Ginga and Waterfall of Meteor both side by side?

        I checked from the Google Map if from Ice Pavilion in Kamikawa > Cape Notoro it will takes me 3hrs drive.

        However from Waterfall of Ginga and Waterfall of Meteor to Cape Notoro it will takes approximately 4hrs + therefore I dare not include it in the first place.

        Or maybe i search wrongly ealier for bot waterfalls.

  • eco says:

    For Lake Shikotsu, knowing that you dropby was for your favourite yummy mochi (Kanko Miyage for cheese imo mocha). Is it worth a visit other than mochi?

    If I straight go to Noboribetsu from the airport how much time it could save for me?

    I will arrive the airport on this Friday 8:20am. Spend time to eat ramen in the airport and then collect car start self drive for this route Route: CTS > Lake Shikotsuko > Noboribetsu > stay Muroran

    I am wondering if I have enough time to cover below for the rest of the day:
    4) Chitose Airport > Lake Shikotsuko (支笏湖) (toll free), 29.6km, 34min
    5) Lake Shikotsu > Noboribetsu Onsen (toll free), 73.3km, 1hr 31min
    Noboribetsu Attractions 4 to 5hours:
    a) Enma-do (Shrine) 3pm or 5pm show > Geyser at Sengen Park (refer printed map)
    b) Jigoku-Dani (Hell Valley)
    c) Oyunuma (20-30mins walk)
    d) Flame of Hot Spring Guardian Yukijin “Oni-hanabi”fireworks show 8:30pm at Hell Valley
    6) Noboribetsu to Hotel Sunroute Muroran (toll free), 25.5km, 40min

    How was your experience for this activity “Flame of Hot Spring Guardian Yukijin “Oni-hanabi”fireworks show 8:30pm at Hell Valley”? Did you know the duration? It will start at 8:30pm, by the time i get to Muroran to put on a night will be very late if I stay up for this fire show. Please advice.

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Both time when I visited Lake Shikotsu in summer, it was raining. So I can’t really say I’m a fan of the lake itself during summer. I found it a lot more beautiful in winter when the surrounding mountains were snow-capped. It’s just a very strategically located lake to stop by during my drives between Chitose and Lake Toya / Niseko.

      Driving from CTS direct to Noboribetsu will be MUCH faster than driving via Lake Shikotsu. Like half the time. But that’s also because you are using the toll road versus non-toll road, so driving direct means that although you save time, you have to pay for tolls. So if you want to save time and don’t mind paying toll fees, then you should drive direct from CTS to Noboribetsu.

      Are you referring to the Demon’s Fireworks at Noboribetsu?

      I’ve never caught it before, but it looks interesting! But not sure how you’re going to keep yourself occupied at Noboribetsu till 8.30pm. It’s more for people who stay at Noboribetsu to go back to their hotels, enjoy the onsen, have dinner then come back out to watch the show. I would stay in Noboribetsu if I wanted to catch the show. Maybe you can have a very sloooow dinner till 8.30pm.. haha.

      • eco says:

        Yes the Demon’s show, that’s why I am wondering if I should stay there till 8:30pm. Probably I will leave early when I have done. Drive back to Muroran for dinner then rest since our flight arrive in the morning, should be tired by then.

        • bumblebeemum says:

          Yeah.. You will probably be done at Noboribetsu way before 8.30pm. I didn’t find Noboribetsu a very interesting town.. Though the fire show intrigues me. Maybe after you go back to Muroran and rest and have dinner, you will be bored and decide to drive back to Noboribetsu to catch the show.. lol!! Like how I drove from Abashiri all the way back to Shiretoko just to catch the laser show at night. I do crazy stuff like that when on vacation. Coz I’ll feel like so wasted if I go all the way there and miss the show.

          • eco says:

            Thanks, I should consider to do that way.

            Never read about the “laser show at night”, did you mention in your blog? Any info?

            • bumblebeemum says:

              The laser show ‘Aurora Fantasia’ is a winter event at Shiretoko.

              • eco says:

                Oh ya i read this from your blog before

                how was the winter show?

                I should plan a trip for winter visit later 🙂

                • bumblebeemum says:

                  Of all the winter events I attended, the laser show at Shiretoko was my least favourite. :p

                  • eco says:

                    I checked with Noboribetsu the Demon’s Fireworks show duration is 20mins. They are not sure if tomorrow’s show still on as Wednesday raining, yesterday seems raining too but they have not got back to me for the situation last night.

                    Nobo to Muroran 40mins drive. I may skip it for 20mins show.

                    I have watched a short clip from Youtube.

                    • bumblebeemum says:

                      Haha.. I had the same feeling about the laser show.. Like, “Huh? That was it? I drove all the way back here just for that?” But oh well.. I was much younger and energetic (and stubborn) back then. Now with kids, I doubt I would drag them out in the night to catch a 20min show either. :p I checked out Google Map and it seems there are some shopping to do near Hotel Sunroute Muroran. So I guess you won’t be too bored there. 🙂

                    • eco says:

                      Exactly! Same feeling here.

                      By the way when i was young without kids I did silly and crazy thing too for my travelling 🙂

                      But not now. They need rest for the next full day!

              • eco says:

                Thank you for all your time this afternoon and it certainly help me to consolidate my travel plan

  • eco says:


    Actually the Sakaimachi Street from one end to another let say from Music Box Museum walk to Otaru Canal it is about just 1.4km right? I have checked the map for walking non stop it will takes just 18mins. I understand we will sure to stop every shop to have a look an taste the food especially the cake and ice cream that take time. 🙂

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Yeah.. You can just walk from one end to the other and back. You can check out the shops on one side of the road one-way and check out the shops on the other side when coming back.

      • eco says:

        That is the plan in my mind. Will either park at Canal end or Music box museum end hihi

      • eco says:

        Weather Forecast website

        May I know which website (url) you use to check weather forecast for your trip in Hokkaido?

        I think I need to do that as well.

        My travelling date will be 28/7 – 12/8, hopefully no rain.

  • eco says:

    BBM, from your experience to visit tip north

    You started with Oshinkoshin > Five Lake > Shiretoko Pass > Rausu Visitor Center for Geyser and Observatory Deck at town.

    I have my sequence in this order depart from Shari to Oshinkoshin> Shiretoko Pass > Rausu Visitor Center for Geyser and Observatory Deck at town > Five Lake > Furepe Falls.

    I put Shiretoko Pass first cause I have a concern it may close anytime if bad weather which may cause i can’t return to Shari.

    Visit on 6/8

    Please advice.

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Are you planning to do the walk around all five lakes? The walk takes approximately 3 hours. Shiretoko Five Lakes closes at 6pm. The walk to and fro Furepe Falls takes about an hour. So if you want to do these two last, just check your timing to make sure you get to Shiretoko Five Lakes by… 2pm latest?

      • Eco says:

        Yes i plan to do Furepe and Waterfall if that is the case i should do these two first before the Pass. Any idea closure time for the Pass? I need to get back to Shari. Please advice.

        Thanks for the fruits and supermarket advice earlier

        • bumblebeemum says:

          I’m not sure about closure time for the pass, but I would definitely drive through the pass when there is daylight.

          • Eco says:

            Hi BBM, did you still remember what time when you make your return way from Rausu? 4 or 5pm? I will re-plan to put Pass last.

            Very hot now here 29c. Visited sunflower field at Honkuryu.

            So far the GPS has Economy option to skip all toll ways, haven’t need to pay toll yet even otaru to sapporo, sapporo to honkuryu to asahikawa.

            I hv no time to eat that squid ink ice cream at Otaru. Tried other food and Topi sushi. Minshuku restaurant that you recommended closed when we reached there at 7pm.

            The ramen shop that I referred from your blog at Tanukoji was closed for renovation. Grilled oyster nearby Mercure so fresh and yum 105y. The long leg crab and sashimi rice bowl at curb market so delicious.

            Thanks for all info.

            • bumblebeemum says:

              I can’t remember what time we left Rausu, but 1 hour is definitely enough to drive through the pass at a comfortable speed.

              Was it easy to use the economy ways? Sometimes i try to use the economy ways and get frustrated after being stuck behind big vehicles and go back to use the toll ways, especially for long distances. Haha..

  • Victor says:

    Dear bumblebeemum,

    We enjoyed reading your blog.

    We are planning a self drive trip to Hokkaido by end of August, 2016.

    Our itinerary as follows-

    Noboribetsu, Lake toyo , Otaru, Asahikawa, Furano and Biei.

    1) Do you think any chance to see Lavender or sun flower in late August /early September?

    2) Should we start from New Chintose airport – Noboribetsu -Lake toya -Otaru- Asahikawa- Furano – Biei – New Chintose airport

    or it is better to travel anticlockwise?

    3) Enough time to cover the above places in 8 days?

    4) Should we buy ETC or highway pass?

    How much toll do you think we need to pay for the above journey?
    Kindly advise.
    Thank you.

    • bumblebeemum says:

      1) Late August I don’t think there is still lavender.. But sunflowers maybe. Neverthless, there will still be plenty of other flowers to see in the Furano / Biei region.

      2) If you are going late August, I suggest you reverse it and start with Furano / Biei / Asahikawa first to catch the flowers.

      3) If you drive all the way, it is possible:

      Day 1: CTS – Furano / Biei
      Day 2: Furano / Biei
      Day 3: Furano / Biei
      Day 4: Furano / Biei – Asahikawa
      Day 5: Asahikawa – Otaru
      Day 6: Otaru – Lake Toya
      Day 7: Lake Toya – Noboribetsu
      Day 8: Noboribestu – CTS

      4) I think your toll fees in cash would cost about the same as an 8-days Hokkaido Expressway Pass. You will be using the tollroads on the following stretches:
      CTS – Furano
      Asahikawa – Otaru
      Noboribestu – CTS

      You can check again using the info on this post:

      But I think if you can get an ETC card from your car rental company for a nominal fee, especially if you are using the toll road on weekends (coz that’s when ETC card usually gives discount on toll fees), you can consider getting one. But even if you can’t get one, it won’t make that much difference.

      • Victor says:

        Thank you very much for your prompt reply and advice.

        Do you think we have to take the full safety package if the car already cover CDW ?

        • bumblebeemum says:

          I didn’t take the full safety package because my personal travel insurance covers CDW. Just that there may be a bit of difference between the car company’s CDW and my travel insurance’s coverage which I would need to top up in case of accident. (For e.g. if the CDW is 100,000yen which works out to about SGD1300 and my insurance only covers SGD1000, I will have to fork out $300 in the event of accident where the damage is more than 100,000yen.) It was a risk that I had to take.

  • pipiko says:

    Hi Bumblebeemum,

    Your website has been a great source of info for our trip planning to Hokkaido with our little toddler.

    Can I further tap on your expertise? we will be leaving our ryokan yumoto shirogane and drive to takino suzuran hillside park and this journey takes about 3hours odd iirc. do you have any recommendations of any nice places we can stop to visit or have lunch or simply to let the toddler spend his energy?

    Our itinerary at the moment doesn’t include any fruit farms or animal farms visit. I cant seem to find any nearby the places we are going. Namely Asahikawa / Furano / Sapporo / Otaru then back to Chitose. Do you know of any in these areas?

    Lastly, we are thinking of doing the hiking route to Sugatami Pond up from the Asahidake Ropeway. Is it feasible to bring the toddler along. I will be carrying him in a baby carrier.

    Thanks for your time!

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Umm.. when are you visiting?

      For the drive between Yumoto Shirogane and Takino Suzuran Hillside Park, if you are entering the expressway at Takikawa you can take a break at the expressway rest stop SA Sunagawa without exiting the expressway. Or you can try Hokkaido Kodomo No Kuni which is very near SA Sunagawa.

      For fruit farms, it really depends on your date of travel. There is a cherry farm near Furano and a fruit orchard at Yoichi (near Otaru) but they are seasonal.

      Well.. I have hiked up a mountain with a baby in a baby carrier before so anything is possible – if you have the energy. :p I have never done this particular hike to Sugatami Pond before so I really don’t know how strenuous it is. Maybe you and your husband can take turns to carry the toddler. Just make sure to allocate more time for the hike, in case you all need to stop for breaks.

      • pipiko says:


        thanks for your reply! We are traveling on the 27th of Sept. Will check out Kodomo No Kuni near SA Sunagawa.

        We have tried hiking with the baby last year in the Swiss Alps. It was an easy hike for about an hour. I read that there are some parts of the Sugatami Pond route that might be abit strenuous hence the procrastination. But i also read its common for families to bring children along so hmm, I should give it a try then. thank you.

  • Chris Yeo says:


    I am planning a trip to Hokkaido in mid May. For the car rental, which is car rental agency you would recommend? I would need a car like the one you rented Toyota Wish.

  • Chin says:

    Hi Bumblebeemum,

    What is your recommendation for accommodation for family with 2 adults + age 13 + age 10 at Asahikawa?


  • Audrey says:

    Dear bumblebeemum,

    Many thanks for writing the blog! It’s a great source of help for my itinerary planning.
    I’ll be doing a self drive trip to Hokkaido in early Oct this year.

    The itinerary is as follows-
    Day 1
    Fly into Hakodate

    Day 2
    Hakodate — Noboribetsu

    Day 3
    Noboribetsu — Lake Toya — Houheikyo Dam – Jozankei farm- Otaru

    Day 4
    Otaru — Asahikawa

    Day 5
    Asahikawa — Asahidake Ropeway (day trip)

    Day 6
    Asahikawa — Biei — Farm Tomita — Sapporo

    Day 7 and 8

    1) Do you think Asahikawa is a good base for day 4 and 5? Or will it be better to stay in Asahikawa for 1 night and stay in Furano on day 5?
    2) Is my itinerary too packed?
    3) Should I buy ETC or highway pass?

    Are there any journeys where using tolls will make more sense? (save a lot more time etc)
    How much toll fees do you think I’ll need to pay?

    Thank you!

    • bumblebeemum says:

      1) Asahikawa is a good base for exploring Asahidake, I would stay in Asahidake.

      2) I do find it a bit rushed. I would drop Noboribetsu, shift Sapporo up to after Otaru and head back to CTS from Furano. Something like this:

      DAY 1 Hakodate

      DAY 2 Hakodate – Lake Toya

      DAY 3 Lake Toya — Houheikyo Dam – Jozankei farm – Sapporo

      Day 4 Sapporo (Day trip to Otaru)

      Day 5 Sapporo

      Day 6 Sapporo – Asahikawa

      Day 7 Asahikawa — Asahidake Ropeway (day trip)

      Day 8 Asahikawa — Biei — Farm Tomita — CTS

      I would use the tollway on the following routes:

      Hakodate – Lake Toya
      Sapporo – Otaru – Sapporo
      Sapporo – Asahikawa
      Furano – CTS

      You can refer to the following post for toll fees estimate:

      • Audrey says:

        Thanks for your reply!
        Your itinerary is definitely less packed! However, as my family is keen on staying at this particular onsen at Noboribetsu, it is likely that we’ll keep to Day 2 and 3 of my itinerary.
        I’ve read your other posts and am keen on having lunch at Sendoan at Lake Toya which you’ve recommended. How much time do you think i should allocate to Lake Toya including lunch? Are there other things to do other than walking around the lake area?

        • bumblebeemum says:

          At Lake Toya there’s also the sightseeing cruise and Usuzan Ropeway, and at nearby Sobetsu there are some fruit farms which should have lots of fruits to be picked in Oct. But these would require more time. But if you’re just dropping by Lake Toya as a rest point between Hakodate and Otaru, you can probably just have lunch (about an hour) then drive to Silo Observatory to snap a few photos and move on.

  • Nigel Choo says:

    Hi BumbleBeeMum,

    My friend and I are looking at an 8D8N road trip travelling from CTS -> Furano/Biei -> Taisetsuzan National Park -> Shiretoko National Park -> Kushiro -> Sapporo -> Otaru -> CTS

    Is that unrealistic? It’s will be touch-and-go at Furano/Biei for us, we want to do more hiking and see natural scenery. Hope you will be able to share with us your thoughts!

    • Queen Bee says:

      When are you visiting?

      If you are more into hiking and natural scenery, then yeah, you can just touch & go at Furano / Biei and spend more time at Daisetsuzan National Park (Asahidake / Sounkyo) and Shiretoko. With 8 days, I would suggest you take Sapporo and Otaru out. Just focus on Eastern Hokkaido.

      For example in 8 days, you can do something like this:

      Day 1: CTS – Furano / Biei – Asahikawa
      Day 2: Asahikawa (day trip to Asahidake)
      Day 3: Asahikawa – Sounkyo – Abashiri
      Day 4: Abashiri – Shiretoko
      Day 5: Shiretoko
      Day 6: Shiretoko – Lake Akan – Kushiro
      Day 7: Kushiro – Obihrio
      Day 8: Obihiro – CTS

      It is already rather packed, so I really wouldn’t squeeze Sapporo and Otaru in.

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