Notsuke Peninsula

A lesser-visited area in the east coast of Hokkaido proves to be one of the more eventful parts of our trip to Japan.

Notsuke Peninsula is a small strip of land that juts out for about 28km from the east coast of Hokkaido prefecture—but don’t let its size fool you. The Notsuke Peninsula Nature Center situated about 15km from the mainland is a popular destination for tourists but if you ask me, the journey to the center is just as interesting—if not more—than the center itself.

Notsuke Peninsula on the east cost of Hokkaido prefecture.

But before we get to Notsuke Peninsula, we drove through Akkeshi and some wonderful wildlife.

View from the Akkeshi roadside station parking lot, where we slept for one night.

Akkeshi Oysters

We headed to Notsuke Peninsula from Kushiro driving along the shoreline and stopping for a night at the Akkeshi michi-no-eki (roadside station). Our dinner at the station was a fantastic grill-yourself meal of fresh oysters and other seafood that you hand picked at the restaurant. It can’t get any fresher than that! The fresh, juicy, and tasty Akkeshi oysters are not to be missed.

A mother and child Ezo Sika deer look directly at me.

Enroute to Notsuke Peninsula

On our way to Notsuke Peninsula, we encountered a number of wildlife including some eagles and Ezo Sika deer. Just seeing them as you drive is a treat, and you can’t help but stop the car and watch them perched up high in the treetop or gazing in the open field. Click the images for an enlarged version.

Ezo Shika deer grazing in the field.

Notsuke Peninsula

The Notsuke Peninsula is a 28km drive on a stretch of road that is surrounded by nature’s beauty and plenty of wildlife. It is typical to see parked cars along the side of the road, with people trying to take photos of nearby wildlife.

Cars are parked on the side of the road as people look for wildlife.

While you’re able to drive straight to the Notsuke Nature Center in about 20min, chances are the drive will take much longer than that.

The peninsula is graced by views of the beautiful Shiretoko mountains and the Kunashiri Island nearby, and runs right through the Nemuro Strait and Odaito Bay. Wherever you look, you’re bound to see beautiful vistas or curious wildlife so drive slowly and enjoy the views.

Yezo Sika deer graze the field with the Shiretoko mountains in the background.

After driving for a while, we came upon multiple vehicles parked on either side of the road ahead of us. I looked around immediately to see what they were all looking at. It was a red fox bathing in the warmth of the afternoon sun on top of some old fishing nets.

Photographers gathered to photograph a fox that was sleeping and bathing in the sun along the street.

I didn’t want to scare the fox away with my own presence so I walked around these photographers ever so slowly and inched my way forward. This fox didn’t seem to mind human interaction which is how all of these people were able to get so close to the fox as well.

A fox enjoys the warmth of the sun.

And then this happened:

The Red Fox turned his head toward me and yawned, offering this fantastic vantage point.

The fox slowly turned his head towards me and made the biggest yawn, showing me how clean he keeps his mouth. While I have never seen inside a fox’s mouth before, I have to say that is one very clean mouth.

The Notsuke Peninsula Nature Center

The Notsuke Peninsula Nature Center offers a break from driving with a small museum providing information on the nature and history of the peninsula, gift shop, and restaurant within the complex. It overlooks Notsuke Bay, and offers a viewing platform to view the surrounding areas as well.

We made a brief stop at the nature center to taste the local specialty: scallops caught just outside the peninsula. We ordered a jumbo scallop sandwich to share between the two of us thinking we would eat again later. While we did eat again a little later, in hindsight, we should have still ordered one sandwich each!

Just outside the nature center there was a large crowd of people on the ice. While I don’t know exactly what they were doing there, I think they were just playing on the frozen Notsuke Bay.

Driving past the nature center you will eventually come to the end of the road. There’s a small parking lot there with a sign saying that if you are interested in going to the hut, you will need to walk from here on in. This hut refers to a blind that is near the shoreline.

A blind is an enclosed space that is typically camouflaged within its surroundings. It allows for photographers to stay within it for an extended period of time without being seen by the wildlife they are trying to photograph.

While I did not venture out that far, I believe this blind is for the Steller’s Sea Eagles that frequent the location in winter.

Steller’s Sea Eagles you say? Yes—stay tuned for my next post on these spectacular birds!

Beyond Notsuke Peninsula

Remember I said I ate again? After our trip through Notsuke Peninsula, we stopped by the town of Shibetsu, located just north of the peninsula. We went to one of the many restaurants there and had a delicious seafood bowl to satiate our appetite.

After a very satisfying meal, we continued on our journey north along the eastern coastline of Hokkaido to our next destination, Rausu. I was truly excited for this as we were set to go on a sunrise cruise the next morning to see the Steller’s Sea Eagles. But even before getting there, we came upon another area that excited me just as much. We made a detour in another small town and found some wonderful minimalist landscapes that I was also yearning to photograph (my adventures in Biei and Furano are still to come). With heavy amounts of snow falling so gracefully, it was a scene of beauty that you can only appreciate by being there. This photo below doesn’t do it justice but I hope you get an idea of what it was like being there.

A sole tree stands out amidst the forest in the back as the snowfall becomes heavy.

Have you been to Notsuke Peninsula? Let me know what your thoughts were of this nature’s paradise.

This post is part of my Hokkaido Winter Adventures series.

See my adventures with the Japanese Red-Crowned Cranes.

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