Soya demonstrates its potential for cycle tourism as the 5 senses are stimulated by the scenery and sea breezes

Monitors cycle along the White Path

The Soya Scenic Byway route management representatives’ meeting in Northern Hokkaido carried out a ‘cycle tourism’ monitor project for a new type of sightseeing using bicycles. Being able to experience the beauty and aromas is the appeal of riding a bicycle amid the abundant nature. The initiative aims to switch tourism in the Soya region from ‘transit-type’ to a ‘stay-type’, which is expected to increase consumption in the region after the Coronavirus pandemic has been brought under control. Our reporter pedaled with the monitors to discover a new style of travel.

On October 8th, under clear skies, nine staff members from the Wakkanai Tourism Association and the Soya General Promotion Bureau boarded the Cycle Bus and departed from JR Wakkanai Station at approximately 8 a.m. The bus, introduced by Soya Bus this fiscal year, can be loaded with 10 bicycles that are placed in a standing position at the rear of the vehicle.

While traveling along the western coastline of Wakkanai, I caught a glimpse of a snow-covered Mt. Rishiri and was reminded of the power the magnificent peak possesses. After arriving at the Okibosochi Ranch in the town of Toyotomi, we cycled for about 20 minutes on electrically-assisted rented bicycles while viewing the 1,500 hectares of grassland. I felt a comfort, as if my tiredness was disappearing.

When we arrived at Toyotomi Onsen ‘Yu-no-Mori Pokke’, we boarded the bus that had gone on ahead of us. We then visited the popular Esanuka Line, a popular stretch of straight road that extends for approximately 8 km in the village of Sarufutsu, and then changed to the bicycles again at Cape Soya.

The contrast in colors was magnificent: the greenery of the hills, the white of the path made from scallop shells and the blue sea, with Sakhalin in the distance under the clear, blue sky. The beauty captivated the participants in the tour.

The bus returned to Wakkanai Station at around 4 p.m. Of the total 220 kilometers covered during the tour, approximately 10 were on the bicycles – a distance that was just right for someone who doesn’t get enough exercise, and I didn’t feel tired.

Wakkanai attracts many transit-type tourists, but those who stay have a greater economic effect on the area, in terms of accommodation, wining and dining, and shopping. Sugikawa Tsuyoshi, the secretary general of the meeting that hosted the monitor tour, points out that “Sightseeing in Soya is at a turning point.” The plan is to expand the transportation network centered around cycle buses, and promote experiential tourism such as trekking and canoeing that makes the most of Soya’s abundant nature.

Miura Mai, a travel operator who participated this time and who is involved in accepting tourists from Singapore, said. “Until now, Soya has not been in the limelight but it has the potential to attract people from Singapore.”

Representatives remove bikes that have been loaded onto the Cycle Bus


Soya hills, the white of the path