The refreshing highland town of Shintoku (新得町) 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.
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 (新得神社) at the foot of Shintoku-yama (新得山: 456m) with a panoramic ski area (mid Feb-mid Mar; 1-day pass ¥2000).
The train station has free rental bicycles (9.30am-4pm May-Oct).
(狩勝峠) 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.
(新得駅前温泉) 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.
(狩勝ポッポの道) 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.
Karikachi-kogen Eco Torokko Railway
(狩勝高原エコトロッコ鉄道) 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.
More info ecotorocco.jp
(さほろ酒造) Just a short walk from Old Niinai Station, this distillery produces all its shochu (distilled spirits from barley and buckwheat).
More info www.sahoro-sake.jp
Hokkaido Animal Research Center
(道立総合研究機構畜産試験場) 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.
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.
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).