A vast stretch of Sarobetsu (サロベツ) dotted with wetlands, quiet marshes, sandy beaches and peaceful dairy farms. Colorful and lovely wildflowers bloom from late June to mid July, a refreshing wind heals the traveler’s heart. Northern Hokkaido’s top dairy farming town of Toyotomi (豊富町) is the main gateway for Sarobetsu and Japan’s northernmost onsen village. Don’t miss fresh milk and tasty ice cream.
Sarobetsu Wetland Center
サロベツ湿原センター / 8662 Kami-Sarobetsu / 9am-5pm May-Jun & Sep-Oct, 10am-4pm Nov-Apr, 8.30am-5.30pm Jul-Aug / Closed Mon Nov-Apr / FREE / sarobetsu.or.jp/center
This wetland center has good exhibitions on the nature, environment and history. There is a peat museum and a dredger. Digging peat in the wetland was one of the main industries of the region from the 1970s to the 2000s. A 1km circular nature trail arc out from the center overlooking the wildflower garden, old peat digging sites and Rishiri-to.
Toyotomi Onsen Fureai Center
豊富温泉ふれあいセンター / 8.30am-9pm / Closed 1 Jan & around 10 Apr / 1-day ticket ¥510 / Wi-Fi / toyotomi-onsen.com
Head for Toyotomi Onsen Fureai Center, where you can select for general bath (一般用: ippan-yo) and lukewarm bath for cure (湯治用: toji-yo). A restaurant serves deer cuisines and fresh milk. Oily water is believed to be helpful in treating psoriasis and atopic dermatitis. A Rumoi-Toyotomi bus stops here.
03 SCENIC LANDSCAPE
大規模草地 / Fukunaga / 24hrs May-Oct
If you use a rental bicycle from Toyotomi Onsen, heading north for the large-scale hillside O-kibo Sochi glassland ranch where about 1500 cows are grazing from May to October.
04 SCENIC VIEWPOINT
宮の台展望台 / Tokumitsu / 24hrs / Closed in winter / FREE
Uphill for 15-minute walk from JR Tokumitsu Station (徳満駅), this scenic observation deck has fine views over the wetlands to the surrounding dairy farms. It is closed in winter.
パンケ沼 / Shimonuma / 24hrs / Closed in winter
Sarobetsu’s largest marsh, a 30-minute walk straight from JR Shimonuma Station (下沼駅), is lonely but a good place to explore the wetland on foot. A 3km boardwalk leads to the Horonobe Visitor Center (9am-5pm May-Oct) across the two small marshes.
Toyotomi Station (豊富駅: unstaffed) is on the JR Soya Line. A few limited express trains run from Wakkanai (40min), Asahikawa (3hrs) and Sapporo (4hrs 20min). Three local train serves Wakkanai (45min) and Asahikawa (4hrs 20min).
Engan Bus runs from JR Toyotomi Station to Wakasakanai Dai-2 (稚咲内第2: 2-3 daily / 19min) via the Sarobetsu Shitsugen Center (9min).