Wakkanai Travel Guide
As the most northerly city in Japan, Wakkanai draws visitors looking to stand at this country’s most northern point and to experience its coolness.
Come check out our Wakkanai travel guide as we cover the best things to do in Wakkanai, Japan.
Begin your time in the Wakkanai area by heading straight up to Cape Soya. As the most northerly point on Hokkaido, it is effectively the most northern point in Japan (officially, a tiny, inaccessible isle is further north).
Aside from a monolithic monument, there are stellar views of Sakhalin, an island which used to be part of Japan prior to the Second World War (but now belongs to Russia), as well as ice floes during the winter months.
There are also monuments commemorating the wars fought with Russia over Sakhalin, as well as naval battles in World War II between Japan and the United States, so be sure to check them out before moving on your next sight.
Not far from this point, you’ll happen upon Cape Noshappu. Here, lighthouse fans will love the light they find here, as this red and white beauty is one of the tallest in the country. There is also a long promenade, which is a great place to go for a walk on a beautiful day in Wakkanai.
Be sure to keep your eyes open for deer as you wander, as they are known to frequent the area. Some locals feed them but do not follow suit, as this breaks them of their ability to fend for themselves, putting them at risk for starvation in winter, when there are fewer people around.
Not far from both capes are the Soya Hills, a picturesque region that makes a trip to Wakkanai worth the effort. Rolling landforms created during the last ice age which reach up to 400 metres in height, this is cattle country, with ranches found throughout this region.
There are also a number of wind farms in this area outside of Wakkanai, as it is one of the windiest and most reliably windy places in Japan. This makes the Soya Hills an attractive place for photographers, so don’t forget to bring your camera with you on a trip to this part of the region.
As well served as Japan is by public transport, the freedom of movement that renting a car will give you opens up many attractive sights in this country. The Ororon Line is one such example, as this scenic route stretches 380 kilometres between Wakkanai and Otaru.
Along the way, you’ll get to take in seaside views, wind farms, museums, and other sights typical to rural Hokkaido. In particular, check out the Old Hanada Family Fishermen’s House, which brings the history of the local fishery to life in a building used by fishers for generations.
If you are travelling as a family, make sure you check out the Noshappu Aquarium while you are visiting Cape Noshappu. Complete with touch tanks, seals, penguins, and other marine animals, this humble but interesting attraction will keep your kids entertained if they are starting to get impatient with the other sights located in the Wakkanai area.
The 500 yen entry fee also provides you with access to the nearby science museum, making it an excellent value if you are travelling on a budget.
Looking for a place where you can get panoramic views of Wakkanai and the surrounding area? The 100th Year Memorial Tower is where you’ll want to go. Though it doesn’t look like much at first sight, it offers a sweeping view of the region, which is as much as you can ask for.
Locals recommend heading up after dark, as the night views of the city of Wakkanai are particularly stunning. There is also a museum within devoted to local history, relaying stories from the days when Sakhalin was a Japanese possession.
Take in the local flavour of this northern community in Hokkaido by taking a stroll through Wakkanai Fukuko Ichiba. Here, you’ll find locally caught seafood, local farm products like milk, and even excellent soft-serve ice cream. Try having lunch at the food court, where you’ll be able to eat meals made with local ingredients.
Relax for a bit during your tour of Wakkanai by dropping by Wakkanai Park. Situated on a hill overlooking the downtown core of this city, it is a great place for active travellers and those looking to enjoy an amazing view.
Be sure to check out a war memorial which honours the sacrifice of those who unsuccessfully attempted to hold the island of Sakhalin against the Russians in 1945, and keep your eyes open for deer.