The refreshing highland town of Shintoku (新得) is the main gateway of Tokachi Region and has grown into the railway town for crossing the dynamic Karikachi Pass. Shintoku is also Western Tokachi’s main hub for the peaceful lake Shikaribetsu-ko and the surprisingly hidden Tomuraushi Onsen in Daisetsuzan National Park, as well as for Furano in Northern Hokkaido.
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Sleeping in Shintoku
There are convenient and budget options near JR Shintoku Station. You could go for a more pleasant choice around Sahoro Resort.
01 SCENIC PASS
狩勝峠 / Karikachi-toge
On the border of former Ishikari and Tokachi provinces, about 17km northwest of Shintoku on Roue 38, there is an observation deck with panoramic views of the Tokachi Plain and surrounding mountains. It is best reached by car or taxi from Shintoku.
02 NATURAL PARK & SHRINE
新得神社 / 11W1N3 / 24hrs / FREE
If you are getting on or off the train (or bus) at JR Shintoku Station in the daytime, take a stroll around the town such as Shintoku Jinja at the foot of Shintoku-yama (新得山: 456m) with a panoramic ski area (mid Feb-mid Mar / 1-day pass ¥2000).
新得駅前温泉 / 1-21-18 Hon-dori-minami / 2-10pm / Closed 1-2 Jan / ¥420
This little public bathhouse to your right as you exit JR Shintoku Station offers onsen water delivered from Tomuraushi Onsen by a tank lorry. It is a better place to soak after a stroll.
04 SCENIC LANDSCAPE
Hokkaido Animal Research Center
道立総合研究機構畜産試験場 / Hokkaido Chikusan Shiken-jo
Japan’s largest animal research center (1622-hectare) is not a tourist attraction, and all buildings and farms themselves are closed to the public, but the scenic public roads in the center are open to all. You will enjoy idyllic landscapes by bicycle or car. It is about 3km west of the town center along Odasshu-dori.
A 10km-long footpath from Shintoku to the Karikachi Highland along the former rail track of Nemuro Line (changed to the current route in 1966), passes through the Soba-no-Yakata (そばの館) and an old radio tower (無線鉄塔). The trail begins at the SL Hiroba (SL広場: steam locomotive square), about 1km north of the train station. Bicycles can also available to run on the trail.
06 SOBA RESTAURANT
新得そばの館 / Kisen 102 / 11am-7pm, to 5pm Nov-Mar / shintokusoba.com
Operated by a local soba factory, this roadside restaurant on Route 38, about 5km north of JR Shintoku Station, offers tasty soba noodles from its own farm. The favorites are seiro-soba (cold soba on a flat basket) and tempura soba. It also has a souvenir shop.
07 RAILWAY & LOCAL HISTORY
Karikachi-kogen Eco Torokko Railway
狩勝高原エコトロッコ鉄道 / Nishi 5-639 Niinai / 9.30am-4.30pm Sat & Sun & holiday late Apr-mid Jul & Sep-mid Oct (daily mid Jul-late Aug) / Adult ¥700, child ¥400 / ecotorocco.jp
At the northern end of Karikachi Poppo-no-michi, you can pedal a torokko (draisine) on a rail track at Old Niinai Station (旧新内駅). The Old Karikachi Line Museum (旧狩勝線ミュージアム: 10am-4pm Sat & Sun & holiday May-mid Oct; ¥200) housed in three nostalgic sleeping cars, there are smal exhibits the history of local railway. From here, you can hike on the rail trail (5km) to the entrance of the closed Karikachi Tunnel (狩勝トンネル) built in 1905.
さほろ酒造 / 639-2 Niinai / 9.30am-4pm weekday / FREE/ www.sahoro-sake.jp
Just a short walk from Old Niinai Station, this distillery produces all its shochu (distilled spirits from barley and buckwheat).
Getting There & Around
Currently the trains on the JR Nemuro Line from Takikawa via Furano end in Higash-Shikagoe (東鹿越: 2hrs). Alternative JR buses run between Higashi-Shikagoe and Shintoku (1hr) on Route 38, stopping at Ikutora and Ochiai. Most buses pause at Sahoro Resorto (サホロリゾート), too.
Limited express trains run to Shintoku from Sapporo (2hrs), Obihiro (30min) and Kushiro (2hrs). There are also local trains from Obihiro (1hr).
The North Liner (ノースライナー: 3 daily) pause at the Shintoku Yakuba-mae bus stop in front of the town hall on Route 38. Buses depart from JR Asahikawa Station (2hrs), stopping at Biei, Furano and the Ikutora Bussan Center (michi-no-eki in Minamifurano). Compulsory reservation.
The train station has free rental bicycles (9.30am-4pm May-Oct).