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Day 11 (Jan. 25/20) – Onuma National Park

For whatever reason, most of the sources I’ve read have Onuma listed as a Quasi-National Park. Not sure why that is and I don’t care enough to look it up. When it’s not winter, the Park is a bunch of islands connected by bridges, but in winter, the lake freezes over.

There were a bunch of monuments scattered throughout the park.  I found a few and none of them had any explanation in English.  Even the one that’s explicitly listed on the map doesn’t have an explanation behind why it’s there, just a name.  The others I found were a stone pagoda (without any kind of marker or sign) and a stone column that had kanji I couldn’t read.

That map says this is the “Thousand Winds Monument”.  No other explanation was offered.

There were a number of trails available through the park and I tried all but one.  Unfortunately, being a beautiful sunny day, the snow was melting and refreezing on the trails making them very icy.  In a couple spots, it was safer to walk off-trail on the snow or even on the frozen lake rather than taking the trail or crossing by the bridge.  And of course, what’s better after a day of hiking?  Craft beer.

From L to R:  Kolsh, Alt (whatever that is), IPA and Stout

Seems like every small town in Japan has a craft brewery, but all the beers were good.  I also ordered their Wagyu beef curry for lunch.

The one piece of beef in there was very tasty.

Hokkaido is known for its milk products, especially soft-serve ice cream.  So, to be a complete tourist, I had to try it.  Delicious and not at all inky tasting.

The colour’s off but this is the squid ink ice cream.

Instead of heading straight back to the hotel, I decided to scout out tomorrow’s stop – the onsen town of Noboribetsu. I was surprised getting off the train that there was really nothing going on. I expected to see some hot spring resorts along with the standard tourist shops and restaurants. The town looked surprisingly dead. I walked down the street from the station for a bit, turning around when I saw the sign saying that the hot spring hotels were 7 km away. I had no intention of walking that far so I popped into a local yakitori restaurant for dinner.

This guy greeted me at the Noboribetsu train station. He’s basically the town mascot. More on him tomorrow.
Continuing the trend of food on a stick. No idea what was on the plate – I ordered a combo platter, but it was all good.

Back at the hotel, I gave the public bath a try. Sort of a trial run before I hit the hot springs tomorrow. Very relaxing, although I don’t think I’ll ever get the hang of showering while sitting down.

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