The coastal Oiwake Soran Line (Route 229) from Esashi to Setana passing the cliffs, sea-sculpted rock formations, calm beaches and riverside onsen. For the ocean views, sit on the left side heading from Esashi.
Hakodate Bus Hiyama-Kaigan Line (檜山海岸線) runs from Esashi (Nakauta-cho) to Taisei (3 daily / 1.5hrs) via Otobe (30min), Kumaishi (6 daily / 1hr) and Miyano (80min). The bus company also does two daily runs between Esashi and JR Yakumo Station (2hrs) via Kumaishi.
Esashi to Setana (Oiwake Soran Line)
DURATION: 2 hours +
BEST TIME: May to October
PLAN YOUR OWN TOUR
Gennadai ›› Swimming in the clear waters of this protected ocean pool.
Ota Jinja ›› Climb up to Japan’s most thrilling shrine on the sacred mountain overlooking the ocean.
The small capital of Hiyama Region on the west coast of the Oshima Peninsula, Esashi was Hokkaido’s main trading center from 17th- to 19th-century, when Japanese marchants brought herring and woods. Today the town keeps the wooden houses, shrines and traditional culture. Esashi is also the jump-on and off point for ferries to Okushiri-to.
TRAVEL BY BUS ›› Nakauta-cho (中歌町), in front of the Esashi Oiwake Hall, is a centrally located for all buses on the Hiyama-Kaigan Line (Kikonai-Esashi Line as well). If you plan to head north on Route 228 from Hakodate, change buses at Esashi Hospital (江差病院前: Esashi Byoin-mae).
Otobe is popular in summer for its beach and that has attractive geographical features. The chark cliff of Tate-no-saki is Otobe’s iconic symbol and called the ‘Grand Canyon of Asia’.
TRAVEL BY BUS ›› Otobe Jujigai (乙部十字街) is the main bus stop of the town center. Takise (滝瀬) is the closest bus stop to the impressive Shirafura Coast.
Hokkaido’s most safest and pleasant ocean beach, Gennadai boasts clear water and well-equipped facilities. If you are not swimming, the nearby viewpoint offers fantastic ocean views.
TRAVEL BY BUS ›› The beach is a 5-minute walk from Genna (元和) bus stop (turn left at the shrine and down the spiral staircase).
Halfway between Yakumo and Esashi across the mountain pass Unseki Sky Line (雲石スカイライン: Route 227), Kumaishi has some peaceful onsen.
TRAVEL BY BUS ›› Kumaishi is on the Esashi-Taisei and Esashi-Yakumo bus routes. The Kokumin Shukusha-mae (国民宿舎前) is the closest bus stop to Hiratanai Onsen (both buses stop here).
54km / 58km
Miyano & Taisei 宮野 · 大成
Taisei is the westernmost town of mainland Hokkaido. Local buses, between Esashi and Kitahiyama on Route 229, timed to meet at the small coastal settlement of Miyano.
TRAVEL BY BUS ›› All buses for Miyano continue to Taisei Gakko-mae (大成学校前) or Dai-ni Tomiiso (第二富磯: 3km west of Taisei). If you are continuing north to Kitahiyama (北檜山), get off at Miyano (宮野) near the post box. Then 150m walk northeast to another Miyano bus stop at the police box on Route 229. Hakodate Bus connects Miyano with Kitahiyama (3-4 daily / ¥40min).
Ota Jinja 太田神社
On the mountainside of Ota-yama (485m) is Hokkaido’s oldest sacred shrine of Ota Jinja founded in the mid 15th-century. It is perhaps the sando (approach) to the shrine is Japan’s most dangerous (most visitors say so). The 13km-long Prefectural Road 740, between Ota and Udomari (鵜泊), is a scenic coastal byway completed in 2013.
TRAVEL BY BUS ›› The shrine gate is about 1km south of Ota bus stop. From Taisei Gakko-mae, a daily morning bus to Ota leaves at 5:58 (15min), but the return bus from Ota back to Taisei is at 6:14. Otherwise, the shrine gate is 3.5km north of Dai-ni Tomiiso bus stop. There are no direct buses between Ota and Kitahiyama.
In the administrative center of Setana on Route 229, Kitahiyama is a transportation hub on the bus route to Setana from Miyano and Oshamanbe. An old train station is transformed into the bus terminal.
TRAVEL BY BUS ›› Hakodate Bus operates seven buses daily from Kitahiyama to Setana-shigai (瀬棚市街: 10min) continue to Kami-Sanbonsugi (上三本杉) on the sandy beach. There are also buses to Oshamanbe Station (長万部駅: 1.5hrs) via Kunnui (国縫) on the JR Line.
Setana せたな (瀬棚)
In the upper reaches of the Hiyama Coast is the town of Setana in Kariba-Motta Prefectural Natural Park, which boasts rugged coastline, pleasant beaches and Japan’s clearest river Shiribeshi-Toshibetsu-gawa. Ogino Ginko, the first licensed Japanese woman physician, opened the pediatric clinic here in 1897.
CONNECTIONS ›› From Setana-shigai (瀬棚市街), Hakodate Bus operates seven buses daily to Oshamanbe Station (1hr 40min). There is also a direct bus to Hakodate Station departing at 6:17 (3.5hrs) via Yakumo and Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto stations. Note that there are no direct coastal buses to Shimamaki in Shiribeshi Region.