- April 9th, 2013
[Wakkanai] Tourism and Seafood Can Be Enjoyed in Japan's Northernmost Fishery City
- List of Nature Tourist Attractions
- List of Tasty Foods
- List of Onsen
- List of Other Tourist Attractions
- List of Events
- List of Accommodations
Wakkanai (稚内) that about 35,000 people live is the 21th largest fishery city in Hokkaido, and was named after Yamuwakkanai that means “A river with cold water” in Ainu language. It is one of regional hub cities of the North Hokkaido area, and is the northernmost port town in Japan. A catch of Octopus Dofleini (ミズダコ) is the largest in the Japan. In addition, a lot of people run a dairy farm, and the Wakkanai is one of tasty milk‐producing distlict in the Hokkaido. My grandmother was from Keihoku (恵北) in the Wakkanai, and I remember that the milk was very tasty when I visited parents’ house of my grandmother in the old days. As for a climate, the Wakkanai faces the Sea of Japan and the Sea of Okhotsk, so a wind blows hard. Average annual temperature is 7 degrees, and it is chilly in a summer, and it does not relatively snow hard in a winter. Wakkanai Peninsula (稚内半島) is in the west side of the city, and Soya Peninsula (宗谷半島) is in the east side of the city, and the downtown is in the west side of the city. Various things is the northernmost in the Japan, for example, Japane’s Northernmost Railway Monument (日本最北端の線路の碑) is built beside the Wakkanai Station, too.
Because a sea breeze blows hard, high trees are hard to grow in the Wakkanai. So there are a lot of good places to see superb views. For example, Soya Hills (宗谷丘陵) that soil repeated freezes and fusion in the ice age, and the waved surface of hills named “Periglacial Landforms” was born, Soya-misaki Park (宗谷岬公園) that the globe looks round and Wakkanai Park (稚内公園) that the downtown can be viewed are well-known good places. Hay, Wind power windmills and the sea goes well with the scenery, and the views like another country can be enjoyed. Ranches are combined with the wind power windmills built on hills, so a scenery looks like a piece of picture. Therefor Footpath is a popular activity. In addition, Hokkaido Road 106 called Ororon Line (オロロンライン) with good views attracts a lot of motorcycle riders and drivers. It was very comfortable when I drove along the long straight road without signals in the summer, too.
The Wakkanai does not has vast landscape such as Kushiro-shitsugen Wetland or Daisetsuzan Mountain Range, but Onuma Pond (大沼) and Meguma Pond (メグマ沼) are in the center part of the city, and bird-watching can be enjoyed. Especially, the Onuma Pond is well-known for swans coming flying, and about 20,000 swans can be watched in a spring. The Wakkanai is a key junction for sea transportation from here to Rebun Island (礼文島) or Rishiri Island (利尻島), and ferries come and go. But the ferries do not run if the sea runs high. By the way, the city is a shooting place for Japanese movie “Sakura Guardian in the North (北の桜守)” that Ms. Sayuri Yoshinaga (吉永小百合), a famous Japanese actress, played the leading character, and visiting the real-life locations can be enjoyed.
The Wakkanai has much events. First Sunrise of a New Year in Top (初日の出inてっぺん) is held in 1 January, and Russian Folk Song Ensemble is held from mid February to mid March, and Soya Fureai Park Snowland is held in February, and Japan Cup Natonal Dog Sleigh Race in Wakkanai (JAPAN CUP 全国犬ぞり稚内大会) is held between 2days in late February. Then Japane’s Northernmost Wakkanai White Night Festival (日本最北端わっかない白夜祭) is held between 2days in mid June, and Hokumon Shrine Festival (北門神社例大祭) is held between 2days in early July, and Vice-port Market Summer Festival (副港市場夏祭り) is held between 2days in mid July, and 100th Year Memorial Tower Festival (百年記念塔祭り) is held in a day, late July, and Wakkanai Minato Antarctic Festival (稚内みなと南極まつり) is held between 2days in early August, and Japan’s Northernmost Part, Meal MARCHE is held between 2days in late August, and Wakkanai Peace Marathon (わっかない平和マラソン) is held in a day, late September.
As for Onsen, Wakkanai Onsen (稚内温泉) is famous. In addition, there are Wakkanai Natural Onsen “Minato-no-Yu” (稚内天然温泉「港のゆ」) and Wakkanai Grand Hotel (稚内グランドホテル) near Minami-wakkanai Station. By the way, a direct bus does not run between Sapporo or New Chitose Airport and the Wakkanai. But an express bus Hamnasu-go (はまなす号) runs between the Sapporo and the Wakkanai. Besides, Rent-a-car can be rented around Wakkanai Station, Minami-wakkanai Station and Wakkanai Airport.
List of Nature Tourist Attractions
The Soya Hills, the Onuma Pond and the Meguma Pond are famous. My visited tourist attarctions are as follows.
Soya Hills (宗谷丘陵) is nearby Cape Soya (宗谷岬) located in the northeastern part of Wakkanai city. Soil repeated freezes and fusion in the ice age, and the waved surface of hills named “Periglacial Landforms” was born. Here is a viewing spot for beautiful sceneries with gentle hills with about 400 m in height, Mt. Maruyama, White Road and windmills. About 3,000 Soya Black Cattles are bred on the gentle hills, and 57 windmills stand on the gentle hills. I think that an inimitable superb view in Japan can be seen only here. It is said the views look like the sceneries of Iceland or Siberia in Russian, and it can also be said that foreign sceneries can be enjoyed here while visitors are in the Japan. In addition, it is said that the game venue of Anime “Girls und Panzer der Film” uses the Mt. Maruyama as a motif. A parking lot is free of charge. There is no facility except the parking lot. Read More
The Onuma Pond (大沼) is a pond adjacent to Wakkanai Airport in the central part of the Wakkanai. The perimeter of the pond is about 12 km, and the maximum depth is 2.2 m. It is famous as a place that about 20,000 whistling swans come flying in the spring and an autumn. An observation hut is built to watch a little less than 100 types of wild birds such as Wild Goose, Heron, Steller’s Sea-eagle. Admission free. A parking lot is free of charge.
Atmosphere of Onuma Pond Can Be Watched on Youtube
|Admission fee||Free of charge|
|Parking lot||Free parking is provided (72 Cars)|
|Business hours||Open 24 hours * Onuma bird house 09:00-17:00|
|Regular closing day||Open all year round * Onuma bird house winter season|
|Home page||Home page is here|
List of Tasty Foods
Because the Wakkanai is the port city, the fishing industry have been prosperous. I have no doubt that marine products are tasty. In those marine products, the Octopus Dofleini is local speciality, and my grandmother told me that she caught and ate octopuses sticking to tetrapods in old days. The tasty fresh big octopuses are fished, and Octopus Shabu-shabu (タコしゃぶしゃぶ) is one of local speciality dishes, and almost crunchy texture can be savored. In addition, a local speciality food called chao mien (チャーメン) is served at some restaurants, too. Speaking of tasty restaurants in the Wakkanai, Vin (ヴァン) is given 1-star by Michelin Hokkaido, and If (イフ), Takaraya (たからや), Hand made Soba Harunaya (手打ちそば はるな家), Nara Sushi (なら鮨) and Rokka-no-Oka Saryo (六花の丘茶寮) are given bib gourmand by the Michelin Hokkaido. In addition, Sushi Tatsu (寿司竜), Robata Yezo-no-Sato (炉端 蝦夷の里), Jinpachi (甚八), Yezobanya (えぞ番屋), Izakaya Zakoya (居酒屋 雑魚や), Mamiyado (間宮堂), Karafuto Shokudo (樺太食堂), Wakkanai Milk (稚内牛乳) and Kita-no-Ajigokoro Take-chan (北の味心竹ちゃん) are popular in particular.
Wakkanai Ramen uses soup broth made from kombu and pork bones. A lot of ramen restraunts serve ramen with light taste and Umami. I am enchanted in particular beautiful salt ramen. The Mamiyado, Harukichaya (はるき茶屋), Ramen Aoitori (らーめん青い鳥) and Minatoya (みなとや) especially have a good reputation. My visited ramen restraunts are as follow.
Takaraya (たからや) is a long-established ramen restraunt in Wakkanai city, and was founded in 1966. There is a building near Wakkanai station. It is famous for getting the Bib Gourmand in MICHELIN GUIDE Hokkaido 2012 Special Edition. I visited here around 16:00 on weekdays. There was no visitor because it wss past lunchtime. The ramen restraunt was a typical ramen restraunt with a warmth of woods. There are some tables, so family customers seem to enjoy. Read More
Mamiyado (間宮堂) is a popular ramen restraunt in Soyamisaki park, wakkanai city, and is known for a catch phrase “The more ramen is served at the north, the better ramen is tasty (北へ行くほどラーメンがうまくなる)”. A building is located on a hill, so view from the ramen restraunt is good. Dishes using seafood such as a sea urchin rice bowl as well as the ramen are served. By the way, they open a bussiness from mid April to mid November and close in a winter. Read More
Steak House Vin (ステーキハウス ヴァン) is a steak restaurant in Wakkanai city. There is a building near Wakkanai station. It is well-known as the steak restaurant located in the northmost in Japan, and visitors can eat soya beef (宗谷牛) at the restraunt. They garnered one star in MICHELIN GUIDE Hokkaido 2012 Special Edition. Business hour is very short from 18:00 to 20:00. An owner and his wife are at an old age and seemed to shorten working hours. Read More
Conveyor Belt Sushi
Hanaichimonme Head Office (花いちもんめ) is a popular conveyor belt sushi restaurant (回転寿司店) in Shiomi, Wakkanai city, and is well-known as the northernmost conveyor belt sushi restaurant in the Japan. I visited here with my friend that visited the Hokkaido for the first time around 17:00. There were already several groups of visitors at the restaurant. We sat at counter seats at once. The sushi is gotten on a conveyor belt, but vititors can order it ordinary. I ordered restaurant’s recommendations and seafood caught in Wakkanai’s sea. Read More
Wakkanai is well-known for the tasty milk, too. Tourists can savor Wakkanai Milk’s milk products at Wakkanai Vice-port Market (稚内副港市場). They sell milk, an ice cream and a soft serve ice cream.
List of Onsen
Wakkanai Onsen (稚内温泉) in the west part of the Wakkanai is well-known as the northernmost hot spring resort in the Japan. Except it, there are the Wakkanai Natural Onsen “Minato-no-Yu” and the Wakkanai Grand Hotel near the Minami-wakkanai Station. But I do not know whether visitors can tak a day trip bath or not at the Wakkanai Grand Hotel.
Wakkanai Onsen (稚内温泉) is a hot spring place in the west side of Wakkanai city, and is the origin that hot spring gushed out when they prospected for oil, and is the Japan’s nothernmost onsen. Wakkanai Health Increase Center Domu (稚内市健康増進センター 童夢), a hot spring facility for day trip onsen, and some accommodations are built. There are Wakkanai Youth Recreation Hall (稚内少年青年の家) and Wakkanai General Gymnasium around there. The distance is around 10 km away from the center of the Wakkanai, and restraunts, cafes, souvenir shops and convenience stores are not built. Cape Noshappu (ノシャップ岬) is relatively near here, and there are Noshappu Cold Current Aquarium (ノシャップ寒流水族館) and Wakkanai Lighthouse (稚内灯台) and restraunts. Read More
List of Other Tourist Attractions
Wakkanai has a lot of inimitable views in the Hokkaido, and there are tourist attractions in various places of the city. Cape Noshappu (ノシャップ岬), Cape Soya (宗谷岬), Wakkanai Park (稚内公園) and Wakkanai North Breakwater Dome (稚内港北防波堤ドーム) are particularly famous. In addition, local people recommend the sunset at Yuhigaoka Parking (夕日が丘パーキング).
Cape Noshappu (ノシャップ岬) is a cape located in the northwestern part of Wakkanai city. The Noshappu means “A place that the cape is like jutting out a chin” in Ainu language. As its name suggests, the cape is at the tip of Wakkanai Peninsula. It is well-known for enjoying the beautiful setting sun across the Sea of Japan, and is a popular place to view Rshiri Island and Rebun Island. Sakhalin Island in Russia is in the opposite side of the sea. There are Esandomari Fishing Port Park (恵山泊漁港公園), Noshappu Cold Current Aquarium (ノシャップ寒流水族館), Wakkanai Lighthouse, souvenir shops and restaurants at the tip of the cape. The distance is about 4 km away from here to Wakkanai Onsen, too. Read More
Cape Soya (宗谷岬) is a cape, the Japan mainland’s northernmost point, located in the northeastern part of Wakkanai city, the Japan’s northernmost city, and a lot of visitors come. In addition, the cape is one of 3 major tourist attractions that the globe looks round in Hokkaido together with Cape Chikyu (地球岬) and Kaiyoudai (開陽台). The Cape Soya is roughly divided into 2 places, one is the Cape Soya that the Japan mainland’s northernmost point is overcome by deep emotion on the flat, and another is Soyamisaki Park (宗谷岬公園) that Sakhalin Island (サハリン島), the Sea of Okhotsk and the Sea of Japan can be looked over on the hillside. Soya Channel (宗谷海峡) separates the Cape Soya from the Sakhalin Island, and the distance is around 40 km. The Cape Soya is connected Cape Nishi-notoromisaki (西能登呂岬) in the Sakhalin Island with a line, and the left side is the Sea of Japan, and the right side is the Sea of Okhotsk. The cape is one of 3 places that 2 seas can be viewed at the same time in Hokkaido together with Cape Esan (恵山岬) and cape Nosappu (納沙布岬), too. Read More
Wakkanai Park (稚内公園) is a park in Wakkanai Peninsula located in the western part of Wakkanai city, and is well-known as a viewing place to command a panoramic view of the downtown and a port from a small hill. It has opened the park since 1954, and also is adjacent to Forest Park Campsite (森林公園キャンプ場). The park is relatively near Wakkanai Station, and the distance is about 2 km away, and also is close to Wakkanai North Breakwater Dome (北防波堤ドーム) and a ferry port. In addition, cherry blossoms are in full bloom in mid May. A night view is beautiful, too, and the park is certified one of 9 nature night-view heritage in Hokkaido by the Japan Night-view Heritage Office. Read More
Wakkanai North Breakwater Dome
Wakkanai North Breakwater Dome is in the Wakkanai port, and was built to protect baggages from angry waves. The architectural designer is Mr. Minoru Tsuchiya (土屋実). The semiarch concrete dome with 427 m in total length has 70 columns, and looks like a roman architecture, and it has became a popular tourist attraction. Admission free. A parking lot is free of charge.
Atmosphere of Wakkanai North Breakwater Dome Can Be Watched on Youtube
|Admission fee||Free of charge|
|Parking lot||Parking lot is not provided * Pull over to the shoulder|
|Business hours||Open 24 hours|
|Regular closing day||Open year all round|
|Home page||Home page is here|
List of Events
Various events such as the events using the tasty foods or using snow are held from the spring to the winter.
List of Accommodations
Refer to following websites for the accommodations in the Wakkanai. You can get information regarding online reviews and photos.
By the way, Club Tourism (クラブツーリズム), a Japanese tour travel agency, provides various types of tours such as day trip tours or ordinary tours. In the case of bus tours, tourists do not drive their cars themselves, so they can savor alcohol. Choosen tourist attractions are national parks such as Rishiri and Rebun, Shiretoko, and popular tourist places such as Furano and Biei, and some activities such as hiking and fruit picking are also enjoyed depending on seasons. If you are interested in tour trips, you should visit the club tourism's website for details.
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