Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Japan 2013 - Day 3: Shakotan Peninsula and Otaru

Our third day in Japan, and first long-drive around Hokkaido. We drove off 60kms to Shakotan Peninsula. There was no phone number to plug in so we had to consult our google map of starred attractions in my tab and estimate the location in the GPS map. After an hour or so, we saw signs pointing to the famous natural attractions in the peninsula.

our route for the day, towards the central western tip of Hokkaido Island

we hoped to see most of the rock formations in this map

first stop, Candle Rock.
A unique rock formation, 46 meters high and stands on the sea like a candle (thus, the name).

from the parking lot it didn't really look that tall

Candle Rock from afar, just a speck

a closer look at Candle Rock

family photo op at the sign, with the actual rock behind us

We continued to follow the signs ahead and found another rock formation now on our list.
it would have been nice to be here during sunset

it was also our pee break

Note: Toilets in Japan are generally clean. Whether in the city or in road less traveled  No foul smells. No dirty floors. Thumbs up!

Next stop, just along the route was Shakotan Coast

there was a tunnel

watch your heads!

 that lead to this breathtaking view of the coast

 this was at a view point, like a veranda built in the mountain

to get close to the crystal clear waters, we had to walk down a whole lot of number of steps

can you spot where we are?

almost there.....
photo op and pit stop to catch our breath

Ira can't get enough of the plans and wild flowers along the way

my "nature" boy happy to see dandelions everywhere

at the base of the mountain (or hill?) was this remnant 
of what was (I think) an old house or building

isn't the water inviting??? if only it wasn't freezing cold!

the smile on the Kelvin's face: priceless

the boys on their usual business when there is a body of water: throwing rocks into the water
Kelvin is becoming an expert in making the rocks "jump" on water.

family photo op before the kids get too engrossed in their own activities

ahhhh, this is what a holiday is supposed to be. 
Sitting back and relaxing with the cold breeze coming from the sea, overlooking crystal clear waters.

bare-feet walking on rocks. It's the easier way to go. 

one rock, two rocks, three rocks, four!

father and son

father and sons
we can't seem to capture the full size of the big rock formation behind 

done with the stones, now looking for sticks

me and my boys

last few minutes before leaving this enchanted place

doing their final rituals as we prepare to climb back up the mountain/hill

walking back up as more people started coming down

we came, we saw, we conquered
the other end of the tunnel (exit)

there's the light at the end of the tunnel

and back to the front we were

The boys enjoyed their time at this area. On our way back to the carpark, we saw this sign:
there was a lighthouse up the hill and a few kilometers of pathway to see other natural attractions

Well, we couldn't walk all the way to the other end of the coast (that would take us probably half day), but we walked up the hill to see the lighthouse and the view of the coast from way up there. Hubby went ahead as the boys and I stopped by for a drink (vending machines conveniently located at the foot of the hill where there was also a cafe).

on our way up the hill and to the light house

Ira said we had to stop for him to set up "camp"

guess what he's doing....

a view of snow-capped mountains

We've walked straight up, came to a steep, hairpin curve, walked a little bit more and finally, we could see the lighthouse. There were also 2 older Japanese ladies walking with us. Would you believe they walked past us???

it wasn't a big light house after all

just slightly taller

or not

our family in the wild

 getting ready for our jump shot

our family behaving wild! 

Few more family photos, and when hubby was finally happy with his nature shots, we headed back to the carpark. But as they saw a lot of dandelions along the way....

Ira's series of shots as he blew the dandelions to disperse seeds (Science subject is useful)

there goes the last of the seeds

walking down, down, down... a long way down

one of the signs along the foot path

one for the road? 

We spent a considerable amount of time at this place but it was all worth it. Fantastic views of the coast plus the kids were able to appreciate nature and play at the same time.

Next stop: Cape Kamui

so here's where we were headed, at the top of the coast

there were several paths to choose from. We preferred to take the one that went straight to Cape Kamui

women are prohibited???

According to the local legend, an Ainu girl followed her secret admirer to the cape .On her arrival, he had already set to leave. Out of jealousy, she shouted “Any ship with women on board will sink if it tries to past the Kamui Cape” and jumped into the sea. Her body was said to have turned into Kamui Rock. Hmmmmm. 

the walk from the gate to the end of the coast was said to be 20mins
Ira playing around with his makeshift "gun" while walking 

we still couldn't see the end

are we there yet???

nah, still far far away...

sight-seeing on the way

we've already walked halfway here

it was too windy. Kelvin had to put the hood of his windbreaker up.

off the beaten track

really, it was OFF the beaten track

finally reached the light house (?) at the end of the pathway

so Kamui Rock is somewhere over there

series of rock formations off the coast

at the top of the world?

Ira with his signature pose

it was soooo windy that Ira pretended he was flying

found a refuge :)

Kelvin was on this journey to find funny signs.
This one says DENGER ZONE.

hubby couldn't get a good shot of me. It's either my hair was way up in the air...

or all over my face!

we're on our way back to the gate

a long, long way back. This time we clocked ourselves if we could make it there in 20mins.

phew! halfway again...

Ira (who was our timekeeper) said we were just in time to make it to 20min mark

since we were fully satisfied with our trek and the view, we dropped a small donation 
to help maintain this tourist attraction

while I try to fix my hair, the boys played

After a full morning of driving along the coast and having fantastic views of the ocean and snow-capped mountains, it was time for us to drive back to Otaru, roughly 65kms (or almost 2 hrs drive).

We arrived in Otaru and looked for a good parking space. We found one near the Otaru Canal, along the pier. Parking fee = 600 yen. Then we walked to the tourist office to get an up-to-date walking tour map.
we started our walk from the circled location in the map (on the left)
 up to the music box museum (marked by the other circle on the right)

the tourist office has tables and chairs for visitors to dine in, loads of brochures and maps,
as well as exhibits of local products

outdoor exhibit of oddly shaped glasses

glass jewelry pieces... tempting....

what could this be?

stopped by this shop to have lunch

 fried rice for Ira, and Ramen for the rest. Burp!

melons were so expensive

hmmmm, which drink should we have?

Ziggy in Otaru?

Redbull car

after walking for more than 30mins, we finally reached our destination
Otaru Orgel Music Box Museum

we crossed the street first so hubby could take our picture from across the street

So there we were in the land of music boxes. We were so amused we didn't know which to look at first!

after 30mins or so of ogling at the colorful and crafty music boxes, it was time to choose which one we wanted to bring home. We didn't want to go for the most extravagant one. We went for the simplest design. Ira chose the music (Canon by Pachabelbel, since he was familiar with it).

confirming the music

we settled for one and left

we still had to drive back to Sapporo and it's getting late. We still had to stop by the Canal to take photos.

ice cream cones anyone?

18.9 degrees, brrrrrrrrrrr

Here are our takes on the famous Otaru Canal.

the shop behind us was selling magnets, great! I found one that I could add to my collection.

admiring the blooms

sneaking behind

mirror canal

like Venice or Amsterdam???

Although our time in Otaru was short (just a few hours), we're glad we were able to see the different glass factories and the music box museum. The boys appreciated them, too.

We were supposed to go to Shiroi Koibito after Otaru but since we spent a lot of time in Shakotan, we didn't have enough time to make it to the last entry time of Shiroi Koibito. The boys said it's ok.

we saw these group of people in uniform crossing the street. It looked like they were going to perform somewhere, or probably finished performing at Odori Park.

For dinner, we walked towards the entertainment district again.

checked some ramen shops...

but ended up having dinner at Yoshinoya. 
There was no question we were eating here when the boys saw the sign.

Yummy beef rice bowl

Today, we were all happy with the natural attractions we've seen - the coasts, the capes, the snow-capped mountains, the dandelions, the rock formations. The boys enjoyed the long walks at Cape Kamui and Shakotan Coast. It helped that the weather was good. So far, it's thumbs up for Hokkaido.

next to see: flowers of Furano

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