Sapporo, Otaru, Hakodate – we know them by heart. Why not explore further beyond Otaru – there’s so much to do in Shiribeshi! Besides known for its fresh cheap sushi and seafood, enjoy fruits plucking at unexpected low cost, visit and go on a cruise island tour and forged promises of a fantastic Hokkaido dream vacation!
Going beyond Otaru (up north we meant) will bring you to these 5 areas – Shakotan, Furubira, Akaigawa, Yoichi and Niki. All of these areas deliver their own speciality but have one thing in common – they’re interlinked and easy to go by rail. No doubt, it will require a little research on getting around and we’re here to help with your planning on your next trip to the region!
From Otaru, take a rail or bus and make a stop at Yoichi town. Popular as a fishing ground, you can savour cheap sushi and seafood at way fresher taste. Do also drop by the Nikka Whisky factory distillery, one of the pioneers of whisky production.
World reowned Whisky for your discovery
The Nikka Whisky distillery runs tours behind the scene to the still house, mashing house, storage areas and end off with a free tasting of the country’s popular whisky.
Group tours are available to bring you through the production houses but you might need to know a little Japanese to understand the whole process. Else, you can roam around freely and put on the headsets to know more.
Here, we’re in the mash house where traditional coal-fire distillation is used. This shows how traditional and highly-skilled the whisky is produced, alongside in the pot stills. One of these pot stills is inaugurated by Masataka, the founder of the Nikka Whisky and now still operational.
Take a glance at these barrels which are used to contain and store the whisky content. Trace the footsteps of Masataka and Nikka Whisky at the Nikka Hall where many of the original private items are on display and highlight Masataka determination to start off a whisky production when it was uncommon back then.
Stumble upon Masataka’s first whisky, the ‘Nikka Whisky‘ that was created in year 1940. It is interesting to note that the business started off as an apple juice production, the ‘Dai Nippon Kaju’ and then matured as ‘Nikka Whisky’ after earning enough funds from it.
Enjoy the free tasting of bold and strong Yoichi whisky after the tour. Also remember to savour the fresh apple juice, the original baby of Masataka.
Fresh seafood and the tale of a fisherman and his dog
Sea Urchin, abalone, swordfish and many more – these are abundance in Hokkaido’s treasured land and you can enjoy the freshest in areas like Furubira. Taste the Furubira cod roe, a speciality that has gained worldwide recognition for its processing techniques.
Hear the tales of Setakamui rock, ‘the god of dogs’. It is hearsay that the pet dog kept howling while waiting for its master’s return from fishing but due to a heavy storm, the fisherman did not return and hence, the dog transform into a rock.
Around the region, you can participate in sea activities such as kayaking and discover the beauty of this coastal town.
Along the road up north to Shakotan, remember to stopby ‘Small America Village‘ for some photo shots. Set by the sea, the small america village captivates the eyes with its beauty.
Soak in crystal clear waters
On the tip of Hokkaido, take a dive into Japan’s top 100 most beautiful beaches. Reowned for crystal clear waters, Cape Kamui and Cape Shakotan are places that you definitely shouldn’t miss out! The view is still scenic during winter, but do note that they’re closed to visitors during cold seasons.
During summer, view the ocean floor through ‘New Shakotan-go‘ cruise boat, Hokkaido’s only underwater marine park. Cost of the ride is 1,400yen and only operates between April and October. These tickets can be purchased at Otaru travel agencies/visitor centers. Similarly, do also enjoy fresh seafood at abundance.
Soak in the natural mineral baths at ‘Misaki-no-Yu Shakotan‘ hot spring, together with the panoramic views during sunset.
It’s so easy to travel to Northern Shiribeshi areas. Flag a taxi or travel on express buses (Chuo Bus) or Japan Railways and you’ll reach there easily. See you there!