Heading northwards through the scenic coastal road Ororon Line from Rumoi, this long and slim region shows off pleasant sandy beaches, fishing towns, ocean-view campsites and onsen – along with touching sunset over the sea.
DURATION: 5 hours +
BEST TIME: Early July and mid August for swimming. June for wildflower gardens. May to September for long-distance cycling and camping. Winter for dramatic landscapes.
- BUSES: Engan Bus (沿岸バス: www.engan-bus.co.jp) drives along the coast and can drop you at these attractions. During the winter, the crashing waves lapping on the shore.
Obira ›› Swimming in the clear waters of the pleasant beaches and feeling about the herring fishing history.
Shosanbetsu Misakidai Park ›› The Ororon Line’s best spot for camping and recharging in an onsen with dramatic ocean views.
Toyotomi ›› Exploring the isolated Sarobetsu wetlands, wildflower gardens and onsen village.
The good value Moekko Free Kippu (萌っ子フリーきっぷ) allows unlimited travel on the local Engan Bus routes on the Ororon Line, between Ofuyu (in Mashike) and Wakasakanai (in Toyotomi). Pass holders receive discounted fares for the Haboro Enkai Ferry. The pass dones’t cover intercity buses. The pass sells at the Engan Bus ticket offices.
Halfway between Sapporo and Wakkanai along the Sea of Japan, Rumoi Region’s small capital was once herring fishing and colliery town. It serves as a transport hub for Mashike and Haboro.
Local Engan Bus departs from Rumoi-ekimae (留萌駅前: tickets 9.30am-4.30pm weekday, to 12.30pm Sat) stop, about 100m south of JR Rumoi Station near Chuo Bus Rumoi terminal.
0km to 23km
Rumoi to Onishika
About 10km north of Rumoi, Obira was also once a herring fishing village. From early July to mid August, the town’s two sandy beaches are the sparkling playgrounds. Both intercity and local buses stop at Obira-chuo (小平中央) in the town center, the Hanada Ban-ya-mae (花田番屋前) and Onishika-Minato-machi 3 (鬼鹿港町3区) near the Twin Beach.
The windy town of Tomamae is known for the worst bear attack in Japanese history, but today higuma (brown bear) is a symbol of the town. Both intercity and local buses stop at Tomamae-Uemachi (苫前上町) near the attractive Michi-no-eki Fuwatto Tomamae. Local buses stop at Tomamae Yakuba (苫前役場) at the town hall and Sakaehama (栄浜) near the White Beach.
For most travelers, the main reason to visit Haboro is to catch the ferry to Teuri and Yagishiri islands. Central Haboro occupies a grid of streets with a few modesty sights.
Honsha Terminal (本社ターミナル) in Central Haboro is a hub for bus travel on the coastal Ororon Line from Sapporo (6 daily / 3hrs 10min), Rumoi (1.5hrs / 10 daily) and Asahikawa (1 daily / 3hrs). There is a left-luggage service at the ticket window (ask for staff). Haboro ferry terminal is a 20-minute walk from the Honsha Terminal. Minibus Kannonzaki Liner (観音崎ライナー) and taxi are also available.
A highlight of a road trip to the quiet village of Shosanbetsu is the coastal Misakidai Park (みさき台公園) overlooking the ocean. It is a perfect place to break up a journey on the Ororon Line.
Local buses stop at Shosanbetsu Onsen (しょさんべつ温泉) in the park. Intercity and kaisoku (rapid) buses stop at Toyosaki (豊岬) on Route 232, about 1.3km northeast of Shosanbetsu Onsen.
At the mouth of Japan’s forth-longest rivera, Teshio (天塩) was one of Northern Hokkaido’s major trading posts until the early 20th-century. Teshio bus stop is located behind the red brick Teshio-gawa Historical Museum (all buses stop here).
112km to 142km
Teshio to Toyotomi Onsen
You can switch to train at Horonobe (幌延) for a short cut to the JR Soya Line for Wakkanai or Asahikawa. If you take a Rumoi-Toyotomi local bus after departing at Horonobe, settle the fare (or show your Moekko pass) at Horonobe Underground Research Center (幌延深地層研究センター前) to the driver.
Japan’s northernmost tiny onsen ‘village’, Toyotomi Onsen is believed to be helpful in treating psoriasis and atopic dermatitis. Both intercity and local buses stop here. Local buses pauses at the Fureai Center-mae (ふれあいセンター前) bathhouse and continue to Toyotomi Station (豊富駅) on the JR Soya Line. intercity buses from Sapporo run to Toyotomi Eigyosho (豊富営業所) terminus at the town hall.
DETOUR: 6km West of Toyotomi
A vast stretch of Sarobetsu Shitsugen dotted with wetlands, quiet marshes and sandy beaches. Colorful and lovely wildflowers bloom from late June to mid July.
Engan Bus runs from Toyotomi Station to Wakasakanai Dai-2 (稚咲内第2: 2-3 daily / 19min / ¥640) via the Sarobetsu Shitsugen Center (サロベツ湿原センター: 9min / ¥380).
149km to 192km
Toyotomi to Wakkanai
There are no buses from Toyotomi to Wakkanai, so take the train (45min) on the JR Soya Line.
Japan’s northernmost city of Wakkanai is an important turning point for all tourists. They spend a couple of time in the town and its surroundings before traveling onward.
Wakkanai has ferry connections to Rishiri-to, Rebun-to islands. In summer there are also international ferries to Sakhalin Island, Russian Far East. Local bus runs to Soya-misaki on the coastal Okhotsk Line.