Tomakomai to Lake Shikotsu – Wednesday 29 May

What … no convenience stores …

Hokkaido here we come … nice onsen last night – proper mineral baths I did the whole hot, sauna, outside hot, cold.

Not an early start it was noticeably cooler 17°C … only 35km to Lake Shikotsu. Leaving with 1 1/2 bananas and some bakery items for breakfast. We were in the railway station precinct and passed by some industry … white plumes expelled from a smoke stack … very underwhelming – how long can I hold my breath. Within a couple of kms we were staring into forested hills – lovely brilliant green foliage.

A steady 10km climb about 6% through a mix of forests … todays game was picking the perfect christmas tree – self seeded pines of varying sizes were growing beside the road. What else is there do you do when you are climbing for over an hour. We were teased by glimpses of Mt Tarumae an active volcano – one of many mountains that surround the lake.

We descend through the forest and before we know it the lake is in sight and we are at the visitors centre.

Tourist buses are parked; there is an onsen and lunch deal at a hotel – great tourist attraction.

The township is so small, very touristy, this is their low season, tourist shops and a few small restaurants are open only until mid afternoon, we enjoy the best curry ramen for lunch. We ride along the lakeside road admiring the lovely lake it is known for its clarity.

The tourist buses leave and so does the population. A few drinks by the lake to capture the setting sun in its various stages.

Firstly, blowing a gale then a gentle breeze. We return to the guesthouse the township is deserted and all shops are closed.

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