Date: 22nd September 2019
This was my last day in Hokkaido before heading down to Honshu. I was supposed to hike Mashu-dake but was not feeling up to it, so instead I drove around looking for observatories to take in the beautiful sceneries of Hokkaido.
After going around Lake Kussharo, I arrived at Bihoro Pass (美幌峠), a pass at about 493m above sea level which is located between Bihoro and Teshikaga. There is an observatory up here which overlooks Lake Kussharo, the largest caldera lake in Japan. I thought that it was going to be a small observatory, but it was a roadside station equipped with a large parking lot, lavatories, a souvenir shop and a restaurant. This means – crowd.
After parking the car, I headed up to the observatory and stopped first at the lower lookout point. Next, I took the flight of stairs to the hilltop lookout point, at 525m above sea level. I was greeted by a clear view from above and could have stood there longer if I was not racing against time. Aside from the lake, from here you can see the Nakajima Island, Iozan, the Wakoto Peninsula and the Shiretoko Mountain Range.
You can see sea of clouds covering the entire lake if you are here early morning, in spring and autumn when it is cold and not windy. This pass was also used for the shooting of the 1953 movie “Kimi no Na wa”, not to be confused with Shinkai’s anime of the same name.
Parking lot accommodates 134 cards and is free of charge.
The roadside station is open at these hours:
Late Apr – Oct: 9:00-18:00
Nov – Late Apr: 9:00-17:00
Between mid July and October, there are buses which stops at this roadside station / observatory.
- Purchase the Teshikaga Eco Passport which goes to Bihoro Pass from Kawayu Onsen Station. It is a sightseeing bus, so you can visit other areas along the way as well – Lake Mashu 1st Observatory, Iozan, and Sunayu. Check this page out for more info.
- Alternatively, from Memanbetsu Airport (1 hour) or Bihoro Station (35 minutes), you can take the Memanbetsu Bihoro-Go bus operated by Akan Bus for 1,000 yen (one-way). Check this page out for more info.
Driving is possibly the easiest way to access the pass, mapcode is 638 225 400*72. Below are the time needed to drive there:
- From Kawayu Eco Museum Center: 35 minutes
- From Memanbetsu Airport: 35 minutes
- From Lake Mashu 1st Observatory: 40 minutes
- From Abashiri Station: 1 hour