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Scenic Drive in Central Hokkaido – National Route 273

  • Located in central Hokkaido, east of Asahikawa City and the towns of Furano and Yubari is a drive that stretches 75 km along National Route 273. The road winds in and out of heavily forested areas, through spectacular mountainous settings and alongside the now disused Shihoro railway line. The recommended route outlined here takes roughly two hours, it boasts a variety of places to pull over and photograph, as well as a string of cafes, restaurants and public bathrooms to help split the journey up.

    Scenic Drive in Central Hokkaido – National Route 273

    Scenic Drive in Central Hokkaido – National Route 273

    Access is easiest from Asahikawa City, for reference this route has been mapped out using Asahikawa Station as a starting point (please note this is a driving route, and cannot be accessed using public transport). Follow Route 39 out of Asahikawa city and heading east towards Kamikawa, after approximately 90 minutes you will see the turning onto Route 273 (Kamikawa National Highway), it is well signposted but could be easily missed if you are not paying full attention to the roadside signs. Once you turn onto Route 273 the 75km route begins.

    Scenic Drive in Central Hokkaido – National Route 273

    Scenic Drive in Central Hokkaido – National Route 273

    The road winds through a rocky landscape with nice views of the adjacent Taisetsu Lake, shortly after the lake ends, you will arrive at Mikuni Touge, perched on the side of Mt. Mikuni. There is a place to park here and a small cafe/restaurant situated at 1,139 meters above sea level, that affords spectacular views of the drive ahead and the surrounding mountain range.

    Scenic Drive in Central Hokkaido – National Route 273

    Scenic Drive in Central Hokkaido – National Route 273

    The road beyond this winds in and out thickly forested areas, there is a turning on the right hand-side for Horoka Onsen for those who fancy taking a dip in the hot spring. Shortly beyond this you start to approach the disused Shihoro train line and the ruins of Horoka train station.

    The Shihoro train line was constructed in 1925 to serve the workers and communities of this remote area. It ceased to operate in 1987, leaving a string of tall concrete rail bridges that run almost parallel to Route 273, both the bridges and rail lines are slowly being reclaimed by nature, making for some fantastic photography. Signposts detailing safe places to park and view the disused railway are dotted along the road starting with Dai-go-otofukegawa-bashi (Otofukegawa Bridge No.5) and finishing some 20 km south at Dai-san-otofukegawa-bashi (Otofukegawa Bridge No. 3).

    Scenic Drive in Central Hokkaido – National Route 273

    Scenic Drive in Central Hokkaido – National Route 273

    Parking facilities are often provided at the view points, in some cases though you must park beside the road, on the hard shoulder. Parking here is safe as long as you are well within the white lines that indicate the road edge and you are not on a blind corner. Also, it should go without saying that one should always exercise caution when getting in and out of your vehicle here. Some of the view points along this drive are close to one another and can be accessed by foot along well trodden footpaths, for example the above-mentioned Otofukegawa Bridge No.5 and the ruins of Horoka train station.

    Scenic Drive in Central Hokkaido – National Route 273

    Scenic Drive in Central Hokkaido – National Route 273

    Another spot worth stopping at is Nukabira Dam which is located in Lake Nukabira, leave Route 273 and follow signposts to the dam where you can park up and appreciate great views of the surrounding lake, the dam and Route 273 itself.

    Scenic Drive in Central Hokkaido – National Route 273

    Scenic Drive in Central Hokkaido – National Route 273

    The final sightseeing spot along this drive is Dai-san-otofukegawa-bashi (Otofukegawa Bridge No. 3), after which you can either turn around and return to Asahikawa City along the same road or you can continue along Route 273 and follow signs to Route 274 and Route 39 which will take you towards the towns of Minami-Furano and Furano.

    ACCESS: This drive can only be done using either a private car or a rental car. There is no public transport along this route. There are plenty of rental car companies in Asahikawa City close to the station. Please note you will need either a Japanese Driver's License or an International Drivers Permit to rent a car.

    Asahikawa
    Address
    Hokkaido Asahikawashi Miyamaedorinishi
    Phone
    Horoka Onsen
    Address
    Hokkaido Kato Kamishihorocho Horoka
    Phone
    0156442163
    Furano
    Address
    Hokkaido Furanoshi Sumiyoshichou
    Phone
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