Hokkaido 3 - From Akan to Shiretoko
After leaving lake Akan, I headed north towards the national park of Shiretoko at the northeastern tip of Hokkaido. The weather was bad so I had to postpone part of my plans to the next day. Here's a mixed bag of things I saw during those two days.
Right by the sea, a small train station which contrasts with the huge monsters usually found in large cities:
The turtle rock, the name says it all:
Oshinkoshin falls, not bad but essentially a major tourist trap:
In town, a natural hotspring streaming freely and used as a footbath:
Sunayu, another interesting hotspring:
The lake is of course cold but the hotspring comes right below the beach. Don't ask me how the hotspring water stays perfectly separated from the lake, I think they just use pipes to bring it there, but anyway it is possible to dig one's own onsen on the beach!
We've all seen squirrels, but this one rushed right in front of me when I was cycling to grab some food:
Kawayu onsen, one of my favorite onsen so far:
Located right by a lake, it's a wonder: ideal temperature, great view...talk about relaxation! Note that the bath is mixed, with only the small central rock used to separate men from women...
Let me digress for a bit about onsen: usually men and women are separated but there are a few mixed baths generally found in small towns, themselves subdivided in two versions: with or without bathing suit. To me, the "with" version is a total nonsense since it is the Japanese tradition to bathe naked. But don't believe either that the "without" version is a paradise, indeed the very few women who use them are usually well over 60...
A traditional Ainu house, or I'd rather say a reconstitution for tourists:
The Ainu were the first inhabitants of northern Japan, progressively assimilated and pushed towards the extreme north by the Japanese. Because of their ethnical difference, they've suffered many discriminations along their history, which still partially subsist today.
A "one man car", a type of train that is not specific to Hokkaido but can only be found in remote areas:
As the name suggests, the driver does everything like in a bus: one takes a ticket when getting on and pays in a box next to the driver when getting off. The shinkansen seems really far...
A footbath in a station:
Another tasty ramen:
Cycling in the countryside:
Io-zan, an active volcano with important sulfur fumes, making it impossible to approach too close. The old woman with her caddy sells eggs cooked with the vapor of the volcano: