Japan Diaries 4: Weekend 44

Weekend 44: September 3-4, 2022

Day 306: September 3, 2022

Saturday – Mashike Road Trip

It's another wonderful weekend, and the weather couldn't be better. This calls for a family outing, but unfortunately, my plans have to be adjusted due to an All-Rumoi ALT get-together scheduled for the afternoon. While we won't be able to enjoy our usual overnight camping trip or explore distant towns and cities, there are still plenty of enjoyable activities closer to home that we can pursue together.

Saturday road trip destination - Mashike (増毛町)

Instead of going far away, we can make the most of the day by exploring nearby attractions and making new discoveries in our local area. We could visit a nearby park or nature reserve, where we can enjoy a picnic, take leisurely walks, and soak in the beauty of the surroundings. It's an excellent opportunity for us to reconnect with nature and spend quality time together. The good thing was that I went to the nearby town of Mashike (増毛町) with my JTE last weekend and I got to experience fun activities that my family would also surely enjoy. Hence, it’s simply a plug-and-play day trip for us.

We left our home in Rumoi at around 8 AM and arrived at Mashike 30 minutes later. These are the places that we visited in Mashike:

Former Mashike Station

Inside the Former Mashike Station

Kazemachi Shokudo Information Centre

We got some Mashike Stamps from the information center

Kunimare Sake Brewery

I was surprised to see Mr. Sake Bear inside Kunimare Sake Brewery

Mashike Itsukushima Shrine

Check out this beautiful wood sculpture in the Main Hall

Akita Clan Former Jinya No. 1 Daiba Ruins
  • Akita Clan Former Jinya No. 1 Daiba Ruins
  • Shokanbetsu River

Maruzen Sato Orchard

Grape picking at Maruzen Sato Orchard
The highlight of our trip was our visit to Maruzen Sato Orchard. My family and I enjoyed the grape picking and also the eat-all-you-can activity. I probably ate several kilos of grapes during our 4-hour stay.

Sushi no Matsukura

I ordered the sweet ebi bowl

KC and Ella both had the tempura set

Surprisingly, we were still hungry after eating all those grapes so we drove to Sushi no Matsukura for late lunch. I ordered the sweet ebi bowl which was very delicious but pricey. My wife and daughter tried the giant shrimp tempura set meal, which was delicious but way cheaper than my meal.

Side trip to Nord Marina before going home

There are plenty of photo spots in Nord Marina and you can actually explore it for FREE.

After lunch, we decided to head back home as I still have the get-together with the other ALTs at Joshua’s place at 5 PM. During the get-together, I got to meet the new Rumoi block ALTs namely;
  • Miranda – Obira Town
  • Jonathan – Tomamae Town
  • Ryan – Haboro Town
It was really a fun night with these guys. We talked about a lot of things time flew so fast. Speaking of which, I got home at around 10 PM.

My wife and I stayed up for a bit to finalize an itinerary for tomorrow. We settled to visit one town but decided to visit as many spots as we could. So with that, see you, tomorrow guys!

Day 307: September 4, 2022

Sunday – Mashike to Ishikari Road Trip

It’s another beautiful morning here in Rumoi City. It’s time to hit the road once again. For today’s itinerary, we will drive south to Ishikari City. We left our home in Rumoi City a little past 6:30 AM. Our first stop was the Cape Ofuyu Observatory in the town of Mashike (増毛町) near its boundary with Ishikari City.

Driving south through Route 231 again

Crossed Korei Bridge on the outskirts of Mashike

First stop: Cape Ofuyu Observatory

The view from Cape Ofuyu Observatory was amazing but there were also many warning posts about the possibility of encountering a mamushi or Japanese moccasin and also suzumebachi or giant hornets. This made us very cautious as there were hornets along the walkway up the observation deck.

Check out the view from the Cape Ofuyu Observatory parking lot.

From Cape Ofuyu Observatory, we continued our drive south to Ishikari City (石狩市).

These are the places that we visited in Ishikari City:

Shiroganeno Falls

Hamanasu no Oka Park Visitors Center / Hamanasu Hill Park Visitors Center

We tried the Hamanasu Soft Cream
  • Hamanasu no Oka Park Visitors Center / Hamanasu Hill Park Visitors Center

  • Hamanasu no Oka Park / Hamanasu Hill Park

Next stop: 2nd Street Ishikari

Shopping for pre-loved clothes

After exploring the park, we headed to the city center of Ishikari which borders Sapporo. There, we went shopping for clothes in 2nd Street Ishikari. There were a lot of good selections of winter clothing here hence we spent some time there before heading out for late lunch.

AEON Ishikari Ryokuendai

Lunch at Mr. Curry

We also bought some donuts at Mister Donuts

Looking for a place to eat lunch was a challenge as some restaurants close after lunchtime. We eventually settled for Mr. Curry in AEON Ishikari Ryokuendai. It was a gem. I wasn’t expecting their curry to be that delicious. I thought it was just one of those fast food chains that you go to say you had lunch, but in this case, I enjoyed it.

We crossed the Ishikarikako Bridge

Time to freshen up at Hamamasu Spa
From there, we decided that it was time to drive back home. Before we concluded our visit to Ishikari City, we went to Hamamasu Spa to take a dip in its famed onsen. We were also able to see the Ishikari Pokemon manhole cover. It features Vulpix and Turtwig.

Last stop before going home - coffee break @ 711 in Mashike

When we were all relaxed, we continued our drive home. We did one more stop at 711 Mashike to grab our favorite cold coffee latte.

We got home at around 8 PM officially wrapping up our weekend road trip. Overall, we got to visit one new town and also revisit one town this week. I’m looking forward to what next week has to offer.

Read more:

Former Mashike Station
Kazemachi Shokudo Information Centre

Kunimare Sake Brewery Revisited
Mashike Itsukushima Shrine Revisited
Mashike Riverside Park Revisited
Maruzen Sato Orchard
Cape Ofuyu Observatory
Shiroganeno Falls
Ishikari Roadside Station
Atsuta Park Observation Deck
Ishikari Hachiman Shrine
Hamanasu Hill Park


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