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5 Hokkaido Road Trips Through The Inspirational Scenery Of Japan's Heartland

5 Hokkaido Road Trips Through The Inspirational Scenery Of Japan's Heartland

Date published: 11 April 2020
Last updated: 10 February 2021

Doing a road trip in Hokkaido is one of the best ways to enjoy the best scenery that this region has to offer. Rolling hills, mountains, fields of flowers, lakes and more, are waiting for you to explore. And driving in Hokkaido is easy, thanks to the wide roads and excellent signage.

In fact, Hokkaido has several roads that seem made by design for leisure and sightseeing! Here we will look at 5 particular Hokkaido road trips that simply can’t be missed.

Table of Contents
  1. 1. Are you brave enough for the Roller Coaster Road? (Kamifurano)
  2. 2. The never-ending Road to the Sky (Shiretoko to Shari)
  3. 3. Enjoy the pleasant sea breeze and views along the Ororon Line (Northwestern Hokkaido)
  4. 4. The vast sea of trees at Mikuni Toge Pass (Central Hokkaido)
  5. 5. Beautiful Milk Road, a symbol of Hokkaido - the dairy farm king! (Northeast Hokkaido)

1. Are you brave enough for the Roller Coaster Road? (Kamifurano)

1. Are you brave enough for the Roller Coaster Road? (Kamifurano)

The very popular Furano and Biei areas in the center of Hokkaido are famous for their rolling and beautiful landscapes. Here you can drive down the Nishi 11-sen Road, popularly known as the "Roller Coaster Road"!

This 2.5km long road, which starts after turning off Route 237, about 9.7 km from the JR Kamifurano Station, at the ‘Nishi 11-sen Nomen Nodo’ sign, goes basically in a straight line, however it has lots of hills.

It repeatedly, and quite suddenly, ascends and descends, just like a ride on a roller coaster - hence its nickname!

The wide expanse of the surrounding area, which has the Tokachi-dake mountain range in the background, is absolutely superb! Regardless of whether you love roller coasters or not, this is one road that has to be driven on to be believed.

  • Roller Coaster Road
    ジェットコースターの路
    • Address Nishi 11-senkita, Sorachi Gun Kamifurano Cho, Hokkaido, 071-0511, Japan

2. The never-ending Road to the Sky (Shiretoko to Shari)

2. The never-ending Road to the Sky (Shiretoko to Shari)

In Hokkaido's northeast, the popular Shiretoko Peninsula is also well-known for being on the World Heritage List, thanks to its rich ecosystem.

If you are going from Shiretoko to the nearest airport, Memambetsu Airport, then making a Hokkaido road trip along this road is a no-brainer.

This straight road continues for about 28.1 km from Minehama, an area on top of a hill in a town called Shari-cho, on National Routes 244 to 334. Known as the “Road to the Sky,” from the hill it looks like the road goes straight towards the heavens. If your timing is good, then you can see the awe-inspiring sight of the sunset at the end of the road.

As there are a parking lot and observation deck, you can get out of your car and enjoy the sight at your leisure. However, please note that it is dangerous to stop and take pictures while on the main road.

  • Road to the Sky
    天に続く道
    • Address Minehama, Shari Gun Shari Cho, Hokkaido, 099-4122, Japan

3. Enjoy the pleasant sea breeze and views along the Ororon Line (Northwestern Hokkaido)

3. Enjoy the pleasant sea breeze and views along the Ororon Line (Northwestern Hokkaido)

The Ororon Line is a wide road that runs parallel to the Sea of Japan on a stretch of Prefectural Road 106 on National Route 5 between Otaru and Wakkanai. There is also beauty found along Prefectural Road 106 on National Route 231/232 between Ishihikari and Wakkanai.

It got the nickname of the Ororon Line because of its association with Teurito Island, which is also known as Ororon Island because of the Common Murre bird species that can be found living there.

On this spectacular Hokkaido drive, you can enjoy a variety of pristine views, including the beautiful Cape Ogon, where you can see astounding sunsets sinking into the Sea of Japan, Sarobetsu Plain with its spread of vast meadows, and Mt. Rishiri, which appears on packets of Shiroi Koibito, famous sweets in Hokkaido, and which has a commanding presence from its island offshore from Hokkaido.

It is also an area where you can see wind turbines standing in a row, with their blades gently turning with the wind
  • Ororon Line
    日本海オロロンライン
    • Address Section of Prefectural Road 106 on National Route 5

4. The vast sea of trees at Mikuni Toge Pass (Central Hokkaido)

4. The vast sea of trees at Mikuni Toge Pass (Central Hokkaido)

The Mikuni Toge Pass is at an altitude of 1,139 meters above sea level, and it has the highest national highway in Hokkaido. Running through the Daisetsuzan National Park, an area surrounded by lush rich nature, it affords awe-inspiring views. The landscape can only be described as a massive panoramic view of a sea of trees.

Driving through on a Hokkaido road trip in spring is especially recommended, with the start of verdant green shoots and leaves, and in fall, when there is a mosaic of colorful leaves.

There is also a cafe at the Mikuni Pass observatory. Without a doubt, it is really amazing to get out of your car and enjoy a nice cup of tea while admiring the view.

The sight of fall leaves is just like a painting, but more beautiful!
  • Mikuni Toge Pass
    三国峠
    • Address Mitsumata, Kato Gun Kamishihoro Cho, Hokkaido, 080-1401, Japan

5. Beautiful Milk Road, a symbol of Hokkaido - the dairy farm king! (Northeast Hokkaido)

5. Beautiful Milk Road, a symbol of Hokkaido - the dairy farm king! (Northeast Hokkaido)

While several routes in Japan have the affectionate name of "Milk Road," the Milk Road (Northern Road Route 19) of Nakashibetsu-cho is a very straight road famous for the many milk tanker trucks that travel on it.

This road, which is surrounded by the beauty of nature, has no traffic signals, and goes straight towards the horizon, is very popular with people driving in Hokkaido. In addition, at a sightseeing spot called the Kaiyodai Observatory, it is possible to see a 360-degree view of the surrounding countryside.

While it is called the milk road for the milk tanker trucks that travel on it, of course, from time to time, you can see cattle grazing in the nearby fields. For Japanese drivers, it is common to say “this is Hokkaido!” when driving through here.

From the Kaiyodai Observatory the view can only be described as being as if you are surrounded by green as far as the eye can see
  • Milk Road
    ミルクロード
    • Address Kaiyo, Shibetsu Gun Nakashibetsu Cho, Hokkaido, 086-1272, Japan

Text by: Minna no Kotobasha

*This information is from the time of this article's publication.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.

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