A vast stretch of Sarobetsu (サロベツ) dotted with wetlands, quiet marshes, sandy beaches and peaceful dairy farms. Colorful and lovely wildflowers bloom from late June to mid July, a refreshing wind heals the traveler’s heart.
Northern Hokkaido’s top dairy farming town of Toyotomi (豊富) is the main gateway for Sarobetsu and Japan’s northernmost onsen village. Don’t miss fresh milk and tasty ice cream.
Sarobetsu Wetland Center
(サロベツ湿原センター) This wetland center has good exhibitions on the nature, environment and history. There is a peat museum and a dredger. Digging peat in the wetland was one of the main industries of the region from the 1970s to the 2000s. A 1km circular nature trail arc out from the center overlooking the wildflower garden, old peat digging sites and Rishiri-to. More info sarobetsu.or.jp/center
(宮の台展望台) Uphill for 15-minute walk from JR Tokumitsu Station (徳満駅), this scenic observation deck has fine views over the wetlands to the surrounding dairy farms. It is closed in winter.
(パンケ沼) Sarobetsu’s largest marsh, a 30-minute walk straight from JR Shimonuma Station (下沼駅), is lonely but a good place to explore the wetland on foot. A 3km boardwalk leads to the Horonobe Visitor Center (9am-5pm May-Oct) across the two small marshes.
Kabutonuma Park Camp-jo
(兜沼公園キャンプ場) Just a short walk from JR Kabutonuma Station’s platform No.2, this pleasant campsite in the park overlooks the gentle marsh and has a variety of bungalows and cottages. The vehicle and cottage sites set on the northern shore. You can rent a tent, mattress, sleeping bag, barbecue stove and bicycle. More info www.toyotomicamp.sakura.ne.jp
Toyotomi Station (unstaffed) is on the JR Soya Line. A few limited express trains run from Wakkanai (40min), Asahikawa (3hrs) and Sapporo (4hrs 20min). Three local train serves Wakkanai (45min) and Asahikawa (4hrs 20min).
Engan Bus runs from JR Toyotomi Station to Wakasakanai Dai-2 (稚咲内第2: 2-3 daily; 19min) via the Sarobetsu Shitsugen Center (9min).