Halfway between Kushiro and Nemuro, the serenely coastal town of Akkeshi (厚岸) is designated as a prefectural natural park. This town is actually the oldest port in Eastern Hokkaido, the Matsumae clan established a trading post in the 1600s. The town is set on a pleasant gulf coast leading to the brackish lake Akkeshi-ko (厚岸湖), best-known for both its tasty kaki (牡蠣: oyster) and asari (アサリ: clam).
01 ROADSIDE STATION & EATING
厚岸コンキリエ / 2-2 Suminoe, Akkeshi-cho / 11am-9pm (restaurant to 7.30pm) Apr-Oct, to 7pm Nov & Dec, to 6pm Jan-Mar / Wi-Fi / www.conchiglie.net
On the 2nd floor of the michi-no-eki (roadside station) in Akkeshi overlooking the bay, the collections of eateries in Conchiglie is the best place to taste local seafood such as kaki (oysters) and sanma (saury).
The Aburi-ya (炙屋) is a charcoal-grilled barbecue place. First buy oysters or seafood from the on-site market, then broiled them by yourself. The baketsu-gaki (10 oysters in the bucket) set is ¥1500.
The restaurant Escale (エスカル) offering a variety of set meals using local oysters. You can try a plate of kaki-furai (fried oysters), kaki-meshi (rice bowl of stewed oysters), oyster pasta or oyster curry.
02 SEAFOOD MARKET
エーウロコ / 5-3 Minato-machi / 9am-5pm, to 4pm Jan-Apr / Closed early Jan / www.a-uroko.or.jp
Akkeshi fishery cooperative operates this good seafood market beside the bridge over the lake, you can buy and taste inexpensive fresh oysters, crabs and dried fishes here.
The 456m, red-colored Akkeshi-ohashi is the town’s iconic bridge over the bay. You can see Kaki-jima (oyster islet) and its shrine on the lake from the sidewalks.
04 LOCAL HISTORY
Akkeshi Maritime Memorial Hall
厚岸町海事記念館 / 3-4 Shin’ei / 9am-5pm / Closed Mon, day after a holiday, 31 Dec-5 Jan / ¥210
Opposite the town hall is this small maritime museum with displays on the local fishing community and history. It also exhibits relics of Tasmanian whaling ship that went down off Akkeshi in 1850.
国泰寺 / Wangetsu-cho / Dawn-dusk / FREE
At the foot of Barasan-misaki, Kokutai-ji is Eastern Hokkaido’s oldest temple established in 1804 by the Edo shogunate. The temple precinct and its cape makes for a pleasant stroll.
Situated in front of Kokutai-ji, the seasonal Akkeshi Folk Museum (厚岸町郷土館: 1-2 Wangetsu / 9am-4pm 16 Apr-15 Nov / Closed Mon & next day after a holiday / ¥100) contains historical materials, artifacts of Kokutai-ji and Akkeshi Jinja
All trains from Kushiro on the JR Nemuro Line (also called the JR Hanasaki Line) stop at both Akkeshi (8 daily / 50min).