The only good part of coming back from vacation is the souvenirs or ōmiyage・お土産. In Japan, souvenirs refer nearly exclusively to food. I got these little mochi at a quick stop in a town on the way back. They are red pean paste mixed with pickled plum. Sounds weird but it was so lovely and not too sweet but a nice gummy chewy texture.
Hokkaido Souvenir Snacks
Can’t go on vacation without souvenirs! In Japan they’re called omiyage・お土産 and almost exclusively refer to food. These butter sandwich cookies are one of the most popular from Hokkaido and are very near the top of my list. Buttery white chocolate and raisins sandwiched between more buttery biscuits. Worth a trip up north alone!
Hiking in Shiretoko, Hokkaido・知床、北海道: Mt Shari・斜里岳 Edition
Mt Shari (or Sharidake) seemingly pops out of nowhere and reaches up to 1547m. This is one of the more challenging hikes I’ve done, mainly because it was my first time hiking up a waterfall. There were several hours of boulder hopping along the river and scrambling up waterfalls. It was definitely one of the most fun hikes I’ve ever done, plus there was much less of a concern about bears here.
We were warned about heat stroke (about 15 people have been helicoptered off the mountain during July for heat stroke or injury) but there was enough shade, water and breeze to keep cool.
At the top of the waterfall we had reached the end of the old trail and began the ascent up to the summit.
The way up was absolutely stunning. Without a doubt these are some of my favourite views I’ve had of hiking in Japan. At the top we stopped for lunch and the skies completely opened up in the coolest way.
We were just in the perfect place at the perfect time and the clouds were rolling over us so quickly, there wasn’t 5 minutes that the landscape didn’t change.
Pretty hard to beat. We came down just as the sun started to set. If we didn’t have perfect luck on the previous hike in Rausu, we got it all back here.
The woman who runs the place we were staying is an avid star photographer and when we got back she took our picture with the milky way. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen the stars so clear and bright. This was after a 10 hour hike so we were slightly tired.
If you ever get the opportunity, Shiretoko is a must visit and these were some of the most beautiful and challenging and fun hikes I’ve done. I cannot wait to see where we go next.
Hiking in Shiretoko, Hokkaido・知床,北海道 : Mt Rausu・羅臼岳 Edition
At 1660m Rausu is the highest peak in the Shiretoko mountain range. It’s a perfect day hike at around 8 hours and is a really interesting hike with some good scrambling near the top.
This part of Hokkaido is known as bear paradise, so equipped with bear bells, bear spray and a healthy amount of fear we got pretty lucky with views almost immediately.
Unfortunately as with a lot of hikes with this elevation, there was a cloud near the top when it was time to start scrambling. The walk into the clouds was very moody and interesting though, it’s fun to have a variety.
We had a minor glimpse of a bear so were happy to unload some items in the bear-proof box on the way to the top. Behind me in the top right you can see the summit. The bottom left you can sort of see my friend. Visibility was not great, and it was pretty windy and rainy but the scrambling was very fun in spite of that.
Of course on the descent we walked into the sun and made it back to the trailhead. At the base there is a tiny lodge that has an outdoor bath that was absolutely incredible to soak in after a long day out. It was an amazing, beautiful, incredible hike even without full visibility.
Hiking in Hokkaido・北海道: Shiretoko Goko・知床五湖 Edition
Southern Japan is predictably hot right now so for vacation a friend and I escaped to the north, Shiretoko in Hokkaido, almost as far north as you can get. The first day was spent pretty relaxed going around the 5 lakes, walked around the peninsula and got bear training for future hikes.
The mountains off in the distance are some that we will climb later in the week. It’s so beautiful here and definitely cooler and quieter than back home.
Back closer to where we are staying there are great sunset views, perfect for dinners and beers on the beach.