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Shakotan Peninsula’s Kamui Misaki (God`s Peninsula) or Cape Kamui is famed for having the best views of the Sea of Japan. Kamui means god in the language of the Ainu, Hokkaido’s indigenous people, and it’s said that the views here are “god-like.”
From the parking lot, an almost 800-meter long esplanade weaves its way up, down, and through various viewpoints all overlooking the sea. Some physical endurance is required for the almost 20-minute trek – and comfortable shoes are highly recommended. It can also get very, very windy which makes taking pictures (and selfies!) a challenge.
Along the esplanade, which is also called Charenka’s Path, there are tips to a historical intrigue, a signboard illustrating that until the 1850’s, women were forbidden to visit Cape Kamui. Legend has it that Charenka, a native Ainu chief’s daughter, was heartbroken over the sudden departure of her lover. Before throwing herself into the sea, she cursed death on any woman passing the cape.
At the edge of Cape Kamui, our reward: breathtaking views of the sea. This colossal rock stretching to the heavens is called Kamui Rock, and was presumably cursed by Charenka. Whatever it may be, standing here transfixed by the view is truly awe-inspiring. How little we are compared to nature’s grandeur!
After the exertion of traversing Cape Kamui and being whipped by the wind, we’re relieved at the respite afforded to us by lunch. Rejuvenated we are by the power of hot, healing miso broth bolstered with seafood. We slurp and savor, marveling. Between bites, the contrasting cool of sushi rice and uni perked up by spicy wasabi.
On the way back to Sapporo, we take a detour to Otaru. A port city in the late 18th and 19th century, it’s famous for its canal built in 1923 that was used by barges to transport coal and marine products.
The Otaru Canal runs through the city’s center. This photo, taken from the Asakusa Bridge, overlooks the canal district. The old warehouses lining the canal have been converted into shops and cafés. The walking path is perfect for strolling and the gas lamps are reminiscent of a bygone era.
I really recommend spending a whole day in Otaru, there’s so much to see. It’s a city known for its music boxes, glassworks, and sake distilleries. All of these can be seen on Sakaimachi Street, a nice walk from Otaru Canal.
Hokkaido dairy is of such high quality, breaching on legendary really, that there’s very little difference between one ice cream and the next. But soon we are experts and we have our favorites. Soft, cool cream swells like clouds in the mouth, a bouquet of vanilla blooming alongside sweet. You know when something is so good that a single serving is enough? Nah, neither do I. Another ice cream, please.