Monday last week as it is every year was Umi no Hi1. So being a summer day we jumped in the car and drove out to the beach. We decided to head out to the west coast as this is closest to Niseko, only being about 30 minutes to Suttsu. We jumped on route 5, which is only a few minutes from Shiki and Koyuki across the St. Moritz bridge. At the traffic lights on route 5 we turned right and then drove 30km's out through Niseko town and on to Rankoshi town. Just this side of Rankoshi we pulled into the Seicomart and picked up a few drinks and snacks just in case there wasn't another shop for a while. However all the way out to Cape Benkei there was convini (convenience store) after convini in good Japan fashion. In fact we passed through a few towns and villages with restaurants and ramen shops all the way out.
Back on the road, we continued to drive about another 3km's on route 5 until we found a road on the right, route 267, and then continued out to the coast. Once hitting the coast we turned left and just drove, making a right turn at the big wind generators so as to stay on the coast we traveled a few more km's and then we were in Suttsu township, a town famous for its oysters. We passed on through Suttsu with our chosen destination now in sight, only a few more km's on the map and we will be at Cape Benkei. Cape Benkei seemed like a great point to stop and look back at where we had come from, the Iwanai-Niseko mountain range in the distance.
To our surprise on the cape there was a big statue of Benkei, a real but slightly mythical Japanese warrior monk. After about an hour of relaxing, finishing up our snacks and drinks and admiring the view from the cape we headed home taking in what me missed on the way.
This drive is about 1 and a half hours, about 70km. There are many things to see on the way, a great morning or afternoon trip what ever the season. Be it winter, spring, summer, or autumn it is always refreshing to breathe in the sea air and check out some remote coast line and small seaside towns while in Niseko.
1Umi no Hi or Marine Day is always the third Monday of July and is the celebration of the Sea. Literally means “the Sea's Day”.