Head northeast from Sapporo along the west bank of Ishikari-gawa, Route 275 is an idyllic alternative road to Northern Hokkaido across the rich rice fields in Sorachi Region. There are several shortcut roads connect Route 275 with Route 12 on east bank of Ishikari-gawa. Don’t miss the sunset views in the port town Rumoi.
DURATION: 3 hours +
BEST TIME: May to October. July and August for Hokuryu Sunflower Fields.
BUSES: Municipal buses run between Ishikari-Tobetsu Station and Urausu Station. Chuo Bus runs between Takikawa and Urausu, and between Takikawa and Hekisui. You can travel to Rumoi by Engan Bus or Dohoku Bus from Hekisui.
Tsukigata ›› Hokkaido’s first prison has been converted into a historical museum.
Urausu & Tsurunuma ›› Halfway between Sapporo and Rumoi, this area has Japan’s largest vineyard and some pleasant picnic spots.
Hokuryu ›› Himawari-no-Sato is covered with 1.5 million sunflowers from late July to mid August.
0km to 25km
Sapporo to Tobetsu
Route 275 is officially start in Sapporo, but there are no direct buses between Sapporo and Tobetsu. Take the local train to Ishikari-Tobetsu or Hokkaido-iryo-daigaku terminus on the JR Gakuen-toshi Line (about 40 minutes) across Ishikari-gawa.
25km to 45km
Tobetsu to Tsukigata
Tobetsu is one of Sapporo’s closest rural towns and there is a few rustic attractions around the town. From JR Ishikari-Tobetsu Station south gate (石狩当別駅南口), the municipal bus Tobe-ru-go (とべーる号) runs to Tsukigata (月形駅 / 9 daily / 50min / ¥400) via JR Hokkaido-iryo-daigaku Station (北海道医療大学駅).
45km to 68km
Tsukigata to Urausu
Founded as Hokkaido’s first prison in 1881, Tsukigata was named after the first warden Tsukigata Kiyoshi. Not much remain of the prison today except the museum.
From here, the municipal bus Kabato-ru-go (かばとーる号) runs to Urausu Station (浦臼駅 / 5 daily / 30min / ¥400) via Tsukigata Onsen (月形温泉) in Kairaku Park. Chuo Bus connects Tsukigata with Iwamizawa.
63km to 78km
Urausu to Shintotsukawa
The small agricultural town Urausu (浦臼) is a key transit point on the road if you travel by bus. Four to five Chuo buses daily run to Takikawa Station (滝川駅前 / 38min / ¥600) on the JR Hakodate Line and the JR Nemuro Line, stopping at Tsurunuma Koen-mae (鶴沼公園前), Shintotsukawa Yakuba (新十津川役場: 22min / ¥350) and Hashimoto-cho (橋本町).
78km to 90km
Shintotsukawa to Uryu
Named after the mother village in Nara Prefecture, Shintotsukawa (新十津川: meaning ‘New Totsukawa’ in Japanese) was founded by Totsukawa-born refugees in 1891. This town has a riverside sake brewery and it is easily getting away to Takikawa (just 4km east).
If you plan to head north on Route 275 from Urausu or Shintotsukawa by bus, get off at Hashimoto-cho (橋本町) near Kinteki Sake Brewery, then walk 200m north to the Suzuki car shop and take the Chuo Bus (4 daily) for Hekisui-shigai (碧水市街 / 38min) via Uryu and Hokuryu.
90km to 102km
Uryu to Hokuryu
Uryu (雨竜) is a gateway of the high altitude wetland Uryu-numa Shitsugen (about 26km further west). Michi-no-eki Den’en-no-sato Uryu (www.michinoeki-uryu.com), 2km north of the town center, has a good farmer’s market and a photo gallery of Uryu-numa Shitsugen.
Chuo Bus Takikawa–Hekisui Line, Takikawa-Fukagawa Line (via Uryu) and highway buses (for Rumoi via Takikawa) from Sapporo stop at Uryu. If you go to the michi-no-eki, get off the bus at Uryu 4 (雨竜4丁目).
From July to August, Hokuryu Himawari-no-Sato is covered with 1.5 million sunflowers from late July to mid August. Hokuryu Chugakko (北竜中学校) is the nearest bus stop of the sunflower fields. Local buses run from Takikawa and Fukagawa (see below). During the sunflower season (mid Jul-mid Aug), highway buses (for Rumoi via Takikawa) from Sapporo also stop here.
From Hokuryu Onsen (1km north of the Himawari-no-Sato), Chuo Bus runs to Fukagawa Shiritsu Byoin (深川市立病院前 / 6 daily) hospital, stopping at Fukagawa Jujigai (深川十字街 / 33min / ¥680 / 250m south of the train station) and Hokuryu Chugakko. The timetable is www.sorachi.chuo-bus.co.jp/rosen/rosen.html.
105km to 140km
Hekisui to Rumoi
In Hekisui (碧水) Route 275 crosses Route 233 for Fukagawa and Rumoi. There is a convenience store Seicomart (6am-midnight) at the crossroads, opposite Hekisui bus stop for Rumoi.
Chuo Bus from Takikawa via Hashimoto-cho ends at Hekisui-shigai (碧水市街), 160m west of the main crossroads. You can switch to the Engan Bus or Dohoku Bus (11 daily) for Rumoi (留萌 / 11 daily / 40min / ¥860) or Asahikawa (旭川 / 70min / ¥980) on Route 233.
Halfway between Sapporo and Wakkanai along the Sea of Japan, Rumoi was once herring fishing and colliery town. It serves as a transport hub for Mashike and Haboro. The scenic cape Ogon-misaki, about 1km northwest of Engan Bus Rumoi Jujigai (留萌十字街) terminus, is the best point to finish this road trip and it boasts gorgeous sunset.
The coastal Ororon Line (Route 239 and Route 232) towards north to Wakkanai. Engan Bus leaves from Rumoi-ekimae (留萌駅前) bus stop near the train station.