Yubari to Kamifurano
Distance: 75 miles
Total Distance: 1891 miles

We woke up early the next morning, tired after being woken up frequently during the night by drag racing in the deserted parking lot. With a decent day of riding planned, we had hoped to be more rested, but at least the campsite was free! We packed up quickly and rode back towards the 452 and the turnoff to Lake Katsurazawa. According to accounts of other bike tourists, today would be the longest stretch we would find on our route without any kind of services–almost 100K! Of course, this is completely relative–here in Japan, we have grown accustomed to running into a convenience store or small town every few hours at most.

We stopped at a nearby Seicomart for supplies and filled up as many water bottles as we could. After a quick breakfast, we set out for Shuparo Lake. With our early start we had little traffic to worry about and could enjoy the clean air and a ride along the river towards the Shimizusawa dam, still under construction. A short climb took us above the main construction area, after which we shared the road with a constant stream of construction vehicles going back and forth to the nearby gravel quarries.


Vicky is not happy after a poor night's sleep


The Shimizusawa Dam construction site


Unfinished overpass across the 452

We intended to stop at a campground at Lake Katsurazawa, after a moderate day of riding, so we were in no huge rush as we worked our way over two climbs–the heat seem to increase as we went up, but it was never excessive. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find the onsen once we arrived in the early afternoon, and to our dismay the campground was filled with caterpillars. It’s difficult to describe how unnerving this was, but imagine: a large park with picnic tables, bathrooms, a quiet lake nearby. Yet wherever we sat, we soon found our bags, bikes and bodies crawling with small brown and gold caterpillars. If we sat under a tree, they dropped down from above, and if we sat on a picnic table, they would crawl up from below. We had a quick lunch and cold drinks from a nearby vending machine, and watched as several other couples here for afternoon picnics were chased away by the onslaught of embryonic butterflies. We soon decided that there was no way we could sleep in the area, and after much discussion and consulting of maps decided that we could push on over the next set of passes to a rider house in Furano.


Riding across Lake Katsurazawa


Caterpillars are everywhere!

We got back on our bikes and followed the 452 again through a major climb and a 3km tunnel (no sidewalk!) until we came out on a long descent down into the valley around Furano. The scenery here was completely different! Huge fields of flowers, quaint farms, and lots of green rolling hills, with the mountains of Daisetsuzan National Park in the background.


Farms in the Furano valley


Mountains around Furano

Unfortunately, we couldn’t find the Rider House in Furano despite the kind efforts of several locals to locate it for us, so–despite tired legs and grumbling stomachs–we decided to push on towards a likely campground in Kamifurano to the north. It was tough getting there–this was our longest riding day of the trip so far!–but we finally made it just as the sun was starting to set. What a great find! Hot showers, laundry, and a group of friendly bike tourists from Taiwan! We set up our tent, and after a very refreshing shower went shopping down the road for dinner supplies. We were once again plagued by mosquitoes as we cooked dinner (does anyone have a good remedy for avoiding this constant aggravation in Hokkaido?), but other than that enjoyed a relaxing evening in the well maintained kitchen area. After a long day on the bike, we were ready for a good night’s sleep and went to bed early, looking forward to the ride through the Furano valley and into Daisetsuzan Park the next day.


Sunset at the Kamifurano campground