Big Pictures: Day Off in Rausu, Hokkaido
It was supposed to be a day off the bikes, but Dmitry very much wanted to check out the Seseki Hot Spring, a famous naturally-occurring onsen along the Shiretoko peninsula. And so we left our hotel in the town of Rausu to make the 22km journey up the coast. Not much distance for us, especially with unloaded bikes. But mother nature had a nice idea to throw our way: insanely gusting winds, making the day’s 60F temperature feel more like the mid 40s. Hokkaido has a special quality of light to it, and the sun, clouds, and winds over the Sea of Okhotsk made for a vista that would change every few minutes. Worthy of a Big Pictures post! So here we go.
We couldn’t see Russia from our house, but we could see it from Rausu. That’s Kunashir, the southernmost of the disputed Kuril islands, currently under Russian jurisdiction.
The ride started out with some great tunnels.
Then we passed a sake drinking bear.
Shrines beautifully carved out of nature
This is Mila’s “I’m having trouble standing up straight because the wind is blowing me over” face.
The clouds went from spectacular…
To even more spectacular
Fishermen’s nets drying in the sun
Suddenly, we spotted this ‘lil fella – our second Hokkaido fox!
The fox ran off down the road, reluctantly. Almost like it didn’t want to leave us alone on this rocky beach. Might have had something to do with… fox kits!
Three of them, just chilling out by the sea, being adorable.
And not particularly bothered by our presence.
Very curious, even.
We reluctantly tore ourselves away from the kits for a waterfall photo.
The Seseki hot spring turned out to be unusable due to the high tide – the sea water was sloshing in, making the bath lukewarm at best. Fortunately, the Aidomari onsen was just a short distance farther along the coast. Another “secret” onsen, the Aidomari spring is better protected from the waves.
Nothing left to do but strip down and enjoy the bath. We had the foresight to bring a refreshment, too.
Japan’s obsession with outdoor bathing: I salute you! Nothing beats sitting in a hot bath while the windchill rages all around you.
A memorable day. And, just for good measure, here’s a parting shot of that fox:
Hokkaido is magical.