4 days
Activity Level
★★☆☆☆
Canoeing
3 hours

The Land of Cultural Exchange/ Hiking, Canoeing and Cultural Activities

Hakodate is one of Japan’s first trading ports opened to the world after abolishing the Japanese isolation policy in 1854. In this four-day tour, we will see and feel how the first breeze of the western culture brought to Hokkaido by interacting with the locals and nature.

Our journey starts from Mt. Hakodate, a symbol of Hakodate city. We will hike Mt. Hakodate while looking down at historic buildings such as churches and temples in the Motomachi area. With this view from the mountain, you will see why the Hakodate port was chosen as the first trading port to the world after long isolation.

Next to Hakodate city is the Onuma area, where is the birthplace of Western agriculture in Hokkaido. Also, people from abroad loved Onuma Quasi-National Park and enjoyed nature there in the 19th century. Onuma Quasi-National Park has unique terrain, an active volcano Mt. Komagatake created. A massive eruption in 1640 caused mudflow to block a river and created Lake Onuma, Lake Konuma, Lake Junsainuma, and 126 small islands in those lakes. We will hike at this active volcano, paddle through among small islands in the lake with a canoe, and taste the foods that are the gifts of volcanoes.

On opening the country, many Japanese moved to Hokkaido and settled in. Mr. Chiba is the third generation of a glutinous rice farmer. We will experience authentic Japanese farmer’s daily life with him and his family at his well taking over land since the 19th century. We will feel the land of cultural interaction in the entire journey.

MAP

Hakodate city, Nanae town, Shikabe town, Yakumo town, Esashi town

No. EM000024 The Land of Cultural Exchange/ Hiking, Canoeing and Cultural Activities

Area Hakodate city, Nanae town, Shikabe town, Yakumo town, Esashi town
Length 4 days
Price From JPY 380,000
Season June - October
Group size Minimum: 4 Maximum: 10
Activity level 2*★★☆☆☆
Activities • Canoeing
• Cultural Experiences
Meeting point Hakodate Airport (HKD)
Price includes • 3 nights accommodation
• Meals( 3 breakfasts, 4 lunches, 3 dinners)
• All the activities
• All transport as described in the itinerary
• Snacks and refreshments
• English speaking Japanese guide(s)
Clothing • Warm/ Wind proof/ Waterproof jacket
• Trekking Shoes
• Comfortable and moveable clothing and changes for the hiking
Items to bring • Water bottle
• Rain gear
• Sunscreen
• Sunglasses

Traveler’s Digest

DAY 1

We will meet the rest of the group around 1:00 pm at Hakodate Airport (HKD). Once everyone has joined the group, we will spend some time getting to know each other and having a briefing for our upcoming adventure program before heading to Mt. Hakodate, only 20 min away from the airport by private van.

Mt. Hakodate is known for its beautiful night view. Many tourists visit this place throughout the year. Mt. Hakodate is not only a popular tourist spot, but it also has abundant nature, including 800 types of natural plants. We will hike the mountain while enjoying the unique shape of Hakodate town. We can also see the Tsugaru Strait, which also marks the biogeographic boundary of the Blakiston’s Line. There are entirely different ecosystems between Hokkaido and the main island, Honshu.

Mt. Hakodate was once used as a fortress in the old times during the war. We can see six parts of ruins during hiking, including the battle command center and storage. It is a secret place since there are not many signs to direct people where to go. It is an easy hike for only 90 minutes from the foot of the mountain (75m/2,46ft) to the top of Mt. Hakodate (334m/1,095ft).

After the hike, we will take a cable car down to the town. We will arrive at our accommodation for the next three nights in Onuma Quasi-National Park with a half-hour drive. You can overlook  Mt. Komagatake, which you will hike on the next day.

DAY 2

Today, we will go for a morning hike to Mt. Komagatake. This active volcano is a landmark of the Onuma Quasi-National Park. Originally Mt. Komagatake was a cone-shaped active volcano like Mt. Fuji, but now it has become a unique square-shaped mountain due to repeated eruptions.

We will start the hike for total of 3 hours (4km/2.5miles) from the middle part of Mt. Komagatake (500m/1,640ft) to a place called “Horseback” (approximately 900m/2,952ft) and down the same route. We will overlook Lake Onuma, which looks like it has been decorated with floating islands and spotted small mountains. By looking at the formation of the entire terrain of this volcanic ash zone, we will understand the geographical relationship between Onuma Quasi-National Park and “Funkawan,” which means volcanic bay.

Enjoy one-plate lunch using local ingredients after descending from the mountain. In the afternoon, we will visit some farmers in Nanae town in the Onuma area, the birthplace of Western agriculture in Hokkaido. Have a pleasant chat with the farmers and get their products like vegetables, meat, firewood, and even charcoal. We will use all of it for tonight’s BBQ dinner at a cozy campsite by the lake. At dinner time, we will make our next day’s canoeing adventure plan with the canoe guide and do some gear checks and lessons after that.

DAY 3

Our following day is a fantastic paddle for 3 hours from Lake Onuma to Lake Konuma. These lakes are full of floating islands and small mountains, which we saw from “the Horseback” at Mt. Komagatake on the day before. It is time to see how the canoe adventure we discussed with the guide last night works!

In the afternoon, we will learn about the “Umami” taste and charm of the finest Japanese dashi kelp “Makombu” from a local fisher in Shikabe town. Japanese cuisine is healthy, and it is trendy worldwide recently. Japanese cuisine is based on “Dashi” stock, mainly made from Japanese kelp. The excellent nutritional balance of Dashi could be one reason why Japanese cuisine was selected as UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage. We will learn how to make “dashi,“ essential for Japanese cuisine. To understand the essence of Dashi, we will take a short boat trip to visit a kelp breeding ground and a waterfall that supplies nutrients to the sea. After that, we will see a kelp workshop and try to make true kelp dashi.

After the big adventure day, we will back to the hotel and spend the last night of our journey with fine dining at our Auberge hotel.

DAY 4

After having relaxing morning breakfast, we check out the hotel and drive along the “Funkawan,” volcanic bay, to Yakumo town for 1 hour.

Mr. Chiba is a glutinous rice farmer. His grandfather moved to Hokkaido to cultivate the land from mainland Japan as a pioneer. Here we will experience a Japanese rice farmer’s daily life in his well-maintained rice field. Mr. Chiba will take us for a backyard tour to see his rice fields and experience harvesting rice and milling rice. Also, we will try a traditional Japanese food culture, “Mochi-Tsuki,” pounding rice cakes with a constant rhythm. After pounding, we can taste freshly hand-made mochi! Enjoy chatting and lunch with him and his family members with the Japanese iconic scenery “rice fields.” We will also touch with the spiritual culture of rural areas such as Buddhist altars “Butsudan” and Shinto altars “Kamidana” set next to each other in his house.

After all the beautiful experiences, we head to JR Yakumo Station and say our goodbyes to the land of cultural interaction.

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