Outdoor tourism popular in Sea of Okhotsk seaside area

Participants after arriving at the Mint Memorial Museum goal in the Kitami City bicycle touring event

Amidst tourism industry decline from the novel coronavirus pandemic, outdoor tourism offers a way to avoid closed spaces, crowding, and close-contact. It is garnering the spotlight in the nature-abundant Sea of Okhotsk seaside area. Tourists from all over Hokkaido are flocking here for activities like cycling.

The first Kitami female-only cycling event held by a Sapporo NPO in July was an approximately seven kilometer long beginner’s course. The participant count was limited to six cyclists, who raced wearing masks and keeping two meters apart. One of the Kitami female participants reported her satisfaction, saying, “This was an excellent event because I was able to avoid the Three Cs (closed spaces, crowding, and close-contact) and have a great time all by myself.”
The event was conceived of and promoted by the local Kitami city government. With its wide expanses of beautiful natural scenery, the Okhotsk area is a sort of holy land to bicycling enthusiasts. But attracting bicyclists from outside of Hokkaido and overseas countries has become difficult due to the novel coronavirus, so the city government partnered with an NPO that has experience with bicycle tours throughout Hokkaido. A long distance course was also available for more experienced cyclers, and some participants even came from far away locations.

“Standup paddleboarding” (SUP), in which participants stand on a surfboard-like board and paddle through the water, is another leisure activity with a low infection risk. In the Okhotsk area, Lake Saroma is becoming a SUP event hub. Napal Kitami a Tokoro, Kitami based Hokkaido youth experience and activity support facility, hosted the first SUP lesson there in mid-July.