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.
Tomari Old Village
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.
The legendary small island of Benten-jima (弁天島), 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.
Benzaima (弁財澗), about 2km south of Kamoenai, has the Shakotan’s most impressive and dramatic long bridge along the cliff coast. Don’t miss Benzaima car park beside the same name bus stop.
Sai-no-Kawara (西の河原) is the rocky hallowed ground on Route 229. It is hard to reach on foot, but you can see it from the car park.