Perhaps the Shakotan Peninsula’s scenic West Coast (積丹西海岸) is less popular than the east coast, however you will find scenic coasts, dramatic cliffs, historic heritages and abandoned old roads along Route 229. This coast is easily accessible by bus or car from the port town Iwanai (岩内). If you are driving, followings are worth stopover points.
Population Tomari 1500, Kamoenai 800
Highlights Herring Palace Tomari, Benten-jima, Benzaima Coast, Sai-no-Kawara
01 FISHING VILLAGE
Tomari’s Old Village
泊村 / 59-1 Tomari-mura
Today the small coastal village Tomari (泊) is well-known for the location site of Hokkaido’s only nuclear power plant (operation stopped from 2012). But the old village has historic buildings around Tomari bus stop.
Horin-ji (法輪寺) on Route 229 was founded in 1862 as a Soto-sect temple.
Near the fishing village, the Herring Palace Tomari (鰊御殿とまり) was built from 1884 to 1916, the heyday of herring fishing. Today this unique place is open to all except in winter.
02 SCENIC VIEWPOINT
弁天島 / 226 Moiwa, Okoshnai-mura, Tomari-mura
The legendary small island of Benten-jima, about 7km north of Tomari on Route 229, has unusual geographic features. Iwanai-born famous painter Kida Kinjiro (木田金次郎: 1893-1962) much loved this rocky island and you can see his oil paints at his memorial art museum opposite Iwanai bus terminal. The nearest bus stop is Sakazuki Kaisuiyokujo (盃海水浴場). It has a tiny onsen village near the beach.
03 SCENIC BRIDGE
弁財澗 / Benzaima, Kamoenai-mura
Benzaima, about 2km south of Kamoenai, has the Shakotan’s most impressive and dramatic bridge along the cliff coast. Don’t miss Benzaima car park beside the same name bus stop.
04 SCENIC COAST
西の河原 / Sannai-mura, Kamoenai-mura
Sai-no-Kawara is the rocky hallowed ground on Route 229. It is hard to reach on foot, but you can see it from the car park.
SHAKOTAN PENINSULA WEST COAST MAP
GETTING THERE & AROUND
Chuo Bus Kosoku Iwanai-go (高速いわない号) makes 16 daily runs from to Sapporo Station (2.5hrs) to Iwanai, via Otaru Station (1.5hrs) and Yoichi Station Crossroads (1hr).
Local buses connect Iwanai to Kutchan Station (倶知安: 9 daily / 45min) and Suttsu (寿都: 6 daily / 1hr).
From late April to late October, there are two buses daily between Iwanai and Kamui-misaki (1hr 38min). There are also regular local Chuo buses between Iwanai and Kawashira (川白) in Northern Kamoenai via Tomari.