The Top Of Hokkaido
30 May, 2010
There are many fantastic hiking opportunities to be found all over Hokkaido but one especially unique experience is Mt Rishiri. Mt Rishiri is located on Rishiri Island just off the west coast of Hokkaido’s northern most city, Wakanai. It is a large volcanic peak which stands at 1721m, as far as mountains go this doesn't seem so high but bear in mind the climb starts only just above sea level.
There are two routes, the Oshidomari trail and the Katsugata trail, both are a tough climb but the Oshidomari is the easier route of the two. Both will take approximately 6 hours to reach the summit and an hour or so less on the way down. Both trails demand a reasonable to high level of fitness.
The ascent begins with lush green forests and then the trail weaves through tunnels of low lying, wind battered scrub. When you emerge from this you are greeted with amazing coastal views combined with the truly alpine environment of the landscape you walk through.
From here the going gets tougher, the trail rockier and the pitch steeper. The landscape becomes more distinctly volcanic and vegetation is sparse. Upon reaching the summit you will be rewarded with views of this now dormant volcano, neighboring Rebun Island and possibly even the Russian island of Sakhalin.
Mt Rishiri is a must do for any keen hiker visiting Hokkaido and is a truly rewarding climb. For those with a less mountaineering spirit the island has a number of less demanding walks and many other sights to see. There is also an excellent cycling track on the island and bikes can be rented from the Oshidomari town.
Accommodation is easily found but booking ahead is import in the busy season. (Golden Week, end of April - May 5th or Obon August 13-16, Holidays) Many accommodation options come with quaint views of the fishing port, have or are within walking distance of an Onsen and serve the freshest seafood you have ever tasted.
Travel to the island is via Ferry, which departs from Wakanai twice a day. The train maybe the best travel option to Wakanai from Sapporo or Chitose, see the JR site for details.