Episode 5 Abashiri and Shari

07-02-2019



Zuzana & Michal Czech couple
― CYCLING ACROSS JAPAN ―

Episode  5                                                                                                                                                                                 Abashiri and Shari

Once again we were lucky to find a free and well-maintained campsite. It’s located on the shore of Lake Abashiri and is fairly popular with Japanese tourists. Katsuo and Nao Horie are one of them: they cycle on a tandem bicycle not only across Japan but also in other countries. They’d like to come to Czechia next year, so we left them our business card and are hoping to see them in Praha in 2020!

The town of Abashiri has one globally unique tourist attraction – a prison museum with the oldest preserved wooden prison structure. We spent several hours at the museum and learnt a lot about the painful history of Hokkaido’s economic development – prisoners were sent here in the late 19th century to build a military road, which should help prevent Russians from invading the island. Hundreds of them died due to harsh conditions.

There are numerous building for visitors to explore: prison cells, dining areas, bathing houses, the courtroom, soy sauce and miso manufactory, dormitories… all have real-life figurines that spark imagination.

While the story the museum tells is a sad one, the way they do it is superb: inspiring exhibits, a lot of interesting information (in English, too!), the grounds are beautiful and one feels completely drawn to the stories.

A few hundred metres above the museum lies a great viewout point – The Okhotsk Drift Ice Museum. From there we were able to see our long awaited destination, The Shiretoko National Park. We rode out of town via the scenic highway 244. It heads towards Shiretoko through The Abashiri Quasi National Park and has many wonderful stops along the way.

Koshimizu Primeval Flower Garden leads tourists to a wooden pathway where one can admire beautiful wild plants of Hokkaido, including Siberian lilies and rosa rugosa. There’s also a rest station with toilets, souvenirs and refreshments, which came in handy.

On the other side of road 244, towards the land, pastures and lakes provide ideal conditions for horses. Zuzana likes horses a lot and she was really impressed by the size and good health of the local herd. Most of the animals were shy, but a few came close enough for her to feed them some grass and stroke their mighty heads :)

The landscape was coined by this amazing lookout structure with a green roof. It’s impossible to describe how peaceful and harmonic the atmosphere here was. Especially during sunset!

The town of Shari was our camping location for that night. We got clean in a local onsen, which was unfortunately really run down, smelled of cigarette smoke and had unwelcoming staff, but we still felt happy to be clean and refreshed for the next day. We reached a milestone of 500 km and pedaled towards Shiretoko, which we’ll describe in episode 6. Stay tuned!

 

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