Hokkaido was shaken by a large earthquake at 3:08 a.m. on September 6th. The epicenter was at a depth of 45kms below the Iburi District. Abira Town and Atsuma Town, being near the epicenter, bore the brunt of the earthquake. Following landslides from waterlogged mountainsides, houses were destroyed and in the vicinity of 40 people lost their lives. Parts of residential Sapporo experienced liquefaction, and some houses were knocked off their piles. After the earthquake, almost the entire island of Hokkaido was without power. The inconvenience of daily life, with closed shops and supermarkets and transportation out of service was felt on 6th and 7th. However, inconveniences and disruptions have been remedied somewhat since September 9th.
* Hokkaido Travel Tips的部落格
*Hokkaido Travel Tips’ Blog
We compile information on “0 yen tourist spots” and “must-see paid spots with extra benefits” and then keep them in our blog as archives for your convenience. We also introduce the food of Hokkaido and interesting souvenirs to take home.
Pumpkins have recently become very popular for decorations, and are grown in various areas of Hokkaido. They are harvested from the beginning of September. Places where people congregate, such as road stations or local markets, create seasonal decorations with them. They give people the feeling that the end of October and Halloween is coming soon. Orange colored pumpkins are typical but their sizes differ. A huge pumpkin can stand more than one meter high. Around ten kinds of decorative pumpkins are grown and seen at shops. They are not only orange, but a variety of kinds. Some are small enough to fit in your hand.
Kuromatsunai (Kuromatsunai Town) is a road station on route 5 almost halfway between Sapporo and Hakodate. This road station houses an authentic pizza restaurant, serving their speciality pizzas containing local ingredients and flour produced in Hokkaido. They sell cheese, sausages and ham made in the town too. With a popular bakery onsite also, this road station has a definite focus on food. As Kuromatsunai has the northernmost natural forests of Japanese beech trees in Japan, tableware products such as spoons, forks and eating plates using wood of the beech are sold.
Hokkaido Yoake-no Tou (Kaminokuni Town) is a 24-meter tall tower which stands atop a prominent hill. From the site of the tower visitors can admire a panoramic view of the Sea of Japan. Yoake-no Tou literally means ‘tower of dawn’ in Japanese. The name implies that Kaminokuni was the first place to which people from Honshu arrived and inhabited. The tower was built in 1988 to celebrate the 800th anniversary of the arrival. Three paths are in front of the tower. The directions of the paths indicate the paths of the sunrises on the summer and winter solstices, and the spring/autumn equinoxes. The mesh design of the tower creates a unique sound when the wind blows through it.
Lake Harutori (Kushiro City) is unique in that it is surrounded by a residential area of the city. It’s 4.7 kilometers around and the average depth is 5 meters. The lake is known as a spot where the Hibuna (common goldfish in English) live. As it’s connected to the sea via a small river, it’s a brackish-water lake. There are many creatures in the lake, and more than 130 kinds of birds visit over the year. There are huts to enjoy bird-watching. Usually, the surface of the lake freezes over from December to April. The state of the water in the lake had deteriorated, and a program to return it to it’s original, clean state was begun 20 years ago.
Cape Benkei (Suttsu Town) faces the Sea of Japan and it features a small park. Benkei was a famous warrior in the 12th century. The latter period of his life is mysterious and some legendary stories remain. One of them is that he fled to Hokkaido from Honshu soon after losing his last fight. On the other hand, the Ainu have a different old story, that a powerful warrior arrived at this cape and waited for his surviving boss. Because of these two stories, this cape was named Cape Benkei. A statue of Benkei has been erected.
Rankoshi Furusato-no Oka (Rankoshi Town) is a road station on route 5. This road station is small, but is a good spot to take a rest for tourists traveling by car, because it’s located almost halfway between Sapporo and Hakodate. People can see both the Niseko Mountains and Mt. Yotei. It houses a small shop selling local products. Their pickles are well-known, and some unique products, such as pickled melon, are sold. Melon is one of Rankoshi’s signature products. An ice cream maker is next to this road station, and soft ice cream is popular among visitors. There is a camping site behind the building.