North along Route 40 and the JR Soya Line from Asahikawa cross over the Shiokari Pass, the peaceful Nayoro Basin spreads alongside Teshio-gawa, Hokkaido’s second longest river that flows gently to the Sea of Japan. Many travelers just go through this area and aim for Wakkanai, but a few relaxed places are worth to take a placid time and get their taste of the night sky full of stars.
TO DO 01
Wandering the Leafy Lake Shumarinai-ko
Shimarinai-ko is something like a Scandinavian Lake District. Take a boat ride, fishing or chill out on Japan’s largest artificial lake listed as a water-based prefectural natural park.
TO DO 02
Tasting Horokanai Soba
One of Japan’s snowiest and coldest towns, Horokanai is the king of soba (buckwheat) producing area in Japan. Head to the noodle shops or the summer Soba-no-hana (buckwheat flowers) Viewpoints.
TO DO 03
Cycling in Kenbuchi’s Countryside
Kenbuchi is one of the prettiest rural towns in Northern Hokkaido but it is not touristy than Furano Region. Discovering laid-back and charming countryside by bike or check out the Picture Books Museum.
TO DO 04
Visiting the Suffolk Land Shibetsu
Shibetsu is home to sheep farming and training camp for Japanese top athletes. The main attraction in Shibetsu is its idyllic Hitsuji-to-Kumo-no-Oka (meaning the hill of sheep and clouds).
TO DO 05
Seeking Sunflowers & Sun Pillars in Nayoro
At the heart of the Nayoro Basin, this agricultural city makes a good base for several excursions in the surrounding rural and mountains. Experiencing ‘Japan’s most light and dry snow’ at the ski area on Piyashiri-yama or exploring the sunflower fields by bicycle.
TO DO 06
Chilling Out in the Forested Otoineppu
Otoineppu is Hokkaido’s smallest village by population but appealing place along the river surrounded by tranquil mountain forest. Taking placid time out in Hokkaido’s smallest village along the serene river with its woodcraft galleries and peaceful onsen.
NAYORO BASIN MAP
GETTING THERE & AROUND
TRAIN: A few daily limited express trains run to Nayoro from Sapporo (2.5hrs / ¥7260), Asahikawa (1hr / ¥3040) and Wakkanai (2.5hrs; ¥6710). All trains stop at Wassamu, Shibetsu, Bifuka, Otoineppu and Teshio-Nakagawa, too.
BUS: From Nayoro, highway buses (3.5hrs / ¥3090) run from Sapporo (stopping at the Michi-no-eki Kenbuchi), Dohoku Bus 1 and 2 runs to Asahikawa (2.5hrs / ¥1300) and Meishi Bus has seven daily runs to Okoppe (1.5hrs / ¥1790) on the Okhotsk Line.
Horokanai is served by infrequent JR buses from JR Fukagawa Station (73min / ¥1130) and JR Nayoro Station via Shumarinai.