Heading north from Asahikawa, both the JR Soya Line and Route 40 climbing up to the Shiokari Pass and go down to the rustic Nayoro Basin. Wassamu (和寒町), about 35km north of Asahikawa, is the basin’s southernmost town and Japan’s top pumpkin producing area.
(塩狩峠) On the former border of Teshio and Ishikari provinces, the Shiokari Pass on the JR Soya Line sits at 274m and well-known for Miura Ayako’s famous novel. Beside JR Shiokari Station, some 1600 Ezo-yamazakura cherry trees come into bloom in mid May.
Shiokari Pass Memorial Museum
(塩狩峠記念館) Just a short walk from JR Shiokari Station, the restored Miura Ayako’s old house has displays on her life and work. It is closed in winter.
Minamioka Forest Park Camp-jo
(南丘森林公園キャンプ場) Surrounded by birch forest, this picturesque campsite on the shore of lovely Minamioka Reservoir has kitchens and a circumference footpath. It is 8km west of the Shiokari Pass.
JR Soya Line local and rapid trains run roughly hourly from Asahikawa to Shiokari (40min) and Wassamu (50min). All limited express trains on the JR Soya Line stop at Wassamu.