The forested town of Engaru (遠軽町) on the JR Sekihoku Line functions as a useful transport hub for access to Monbetsu by bus. You might find yourself in the town while waiting for transport connections. Otherwise, take a dip in the tranquil onsen or visit the flower gardens.
Ueshiba Morihei, the founder of Aikido (Japanese martial art), settled in Shirataki (白滝) from Wakayama in 1912.
Points of interests in Engaru
Reserving station Engaru is on the JR Sekihoku Line. There are a few daily limited express trains from Sapporo (3.5hrs), Asahikawa (2hrs) and Abashiri (1hr 45min). Most limited express trains and all rapid trains stop at Shirataki, Maruseppu and Ikutahara.
One daily rapid train (特別快速: tokubetsu kaisoku) connects Asahikawa and Engaru (2hrs).
(がんぼう岩) If you are waiting for a train or bus, it is an ideal time to a 15-minute climb the huge rock of Ganbo-iwa (78m) with good views over the town and its environs. This Pirikanoka (ピリカノカ: beautiful form) was an old battlefield of Ainu and called Inkar-us-i, the town name of Engaru comes from here. Get there on foot from the south side of the Town Museum.
Taiyo-no-Oka Engaru Park
(太陽の丘えんがる公園) From September to mid October, Engaru Park is covered in around 10 million of cosmos. It is also famous for its phlox which peaks in late May. This park is possible to get there by taxi or on foot from Ganbo-iwa.
Engaru Town Museum
(遠軽町郷土館) Located at the foot of Ganbo-iwa, this small museum displays permanent exhibits on the local history, including artefacts and railway (including old JR Nayoro Line for Monbetsu).
Forest Railroad SL ‘Amemiya 21’
(森林鉄道蒸気機関車雨宮21号) An old steam locomotive for a forest railroad, the Amemiya 21 date from 1928 chug the short distance in the forest park Ikoi-no-mori. It does run on weekends from late April to late October, and daily during Golden Week and summer (mid Jul-mid Aug).
From JR Maruseppu Station, there are three buses (7.15am, 12.05pm and 4pm) daily to the Maure Sanso (20min), stopping at the Ikoi-no-mori (15min) forest park.