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Northern Islands to the Tip of Japan

This route hops two islands off the coast of northern Hokkaido – Rishiri Island with Mount Rishiri towering right above the sea, and Rebun Island with its heavenly wild flower gardens. Once back onshore the big island, let’s crank on to the northernmost point of Japan, Cape Soya.

After arriving at Wakkanai, Japan’s northernmost airport, we stay overnight in the port city and take the first ferry the next morning to Rishiri Island. After unloading luggage at a local minshuku near the ferry terminal, we start our 53-kilometer tour around the island. From the rugged landscape of the northern shore along the Sea of Okhotsk, to the expanse of idyllic pasture, we never get bored of the changing scenery.

Another ferry and we land on Rebun Island, known as a paradise of wild flowers. The best season for the flowers is July. There is no road going around the island and the distance between the southern town of Kafuka and northern Funadomari is 30 kilometers round trip. The 10-kilometer trip over the hill from Kafuka to the fishing port of Motochi and back is a beautiful addition to the ride.

After ferrying back to Wakkanai, let’s pedal north along the coast on Route 238 to Cape Soya, the northernmost point of Japan. An inland detour from R238 is recommended, where rolling hills and expansive ranches unfold beneath your eyes. On a sunny day, you will be able to see Sakhalin across the channel and truly realize you are at the northern end of Japan.

Takashi Niwa actively organizes guided tours around the world, from the back alleys of Tokyo to remote villages in Tibet. He has authored many books including “Otona no Tame no Jitensha Nyūmon” (Nihon Keizai Shinbun Shuppansha). His company, Niwa Cycling Tours organizes tours in Japan and around the world.

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