On my last full day of adventures, I borrowed a bicycle in the morning and pushed it up Rishirifuji for about 6 km and 500 meters of elevation to a viewing platform called Mikaeridai. Despite the fantastic weather there were a few clouds clinging to Rishirifuji. I just wonder for how many hours per year you can see the mountain fully. The view down to the town of Kutsugata where I stayed and Rebun island were magnificent though.

The way up to the viewing platform winds itself through forest and I was pretty much alone there, apart from a few cars, bikes and one other cyclist who rode down. There were a gazillion bugs buzzing around my head and it was quite a struggle to push the bicycle resulting in a serious case of “are we there yet?” But I pushed through, the view was indeed fantastic and the ride down the mountain too 😉
After a short rest in the hotel, I took a public bus to a small lake at the southeastern side of Rishirifuji. Kutsugata, where I was staying, is on the west side. I was super lucky because the clouds lifted for the few moments while I was there. The mountain looks completely different and even more rugged from that side and the view was just breathtaking.

During a little walk around the lake clouds came in again and blocked the view to the top. I am pretty sure that many people visiting the island never get to see the mountain. That evening also presented me with a perfect sunset and the sun sinking undisturbed by clouds into the ocean. Wow. It’s not often that I have seen an undisturbed sunset.

I watched it from the roof of my hotel, which opens it as a viewing platform. I also checked out the starry sky. While there are more stars to be seen than in the greater Tokyo area, there was still too much light pollution from the town for a wow effect. From the top of Rishirifuji you were surly able to see the Milky Way that night.
The next morning was already departure day, but I got another treat of finest weather and perfect views of the mountain’s northeastern side, before I had to say good bye to the two islands of Rebun and Rishiri.

I had all weather, so-so with clouds, crazy hot, fat storm and cold and then the last three days of perfection. Both hotels I stayed at open from 1st of May to 30th of September. For five months there are visitors, for seven months the around 2500 people on Rebun and the around 5000 people on Rishiri have their islands to themselves. I cannot imagine really what life must be like there in mid winter. One thing is for sure, the islanders are surrounded by grand nature and coming back to the concrete jungle of the greater Tokyo area, I do envy them a bit, despite those harsh winters they must be having.

view of Mt. Rishiri from Wakkanai airport

Off to Rishiri

I had a rather quiet day on Tuesday the 10th of August. Luckily I went to the Jijouiwa rock pillar the day before, because in the morning the weather was really nasty with rain added to the crazy wind. I only went to the supermarket and back to the hotel quickly, happy to get the last loaf of toast bread. They won’t get new one the next day or two with no ship arriving. Checking the ferry’s homepage in the morning saw all of them cancelled.
In the afternoon it stopped raining thankfully, even if the wind was still as strong as ever and I walked to Cape Kanedano again. Or tried to… it was very tough walking the last few meters into the wind. The sea was actually a little bit calmer than two days earlier.

Then, over night, the storm ended! Just as quickly as it had started. The sun came out, the sea got calmer. I checked the homepage of the ferry operator and all signs were on go! I really hadn’t expected that. Thus I checked out of the hotel and went to the ferry port and boarded the boat to Rishiri island as planned. Since the boat went sideways to the swell it swayed quite a bit, but nothing of the sort that would make me feel seasick. The ride is also short, just 45 min from island to island. On the way the clouds disappeared one after the other.

I checked in to the hotel on Rishiri, promptly borrowed a bicycle and rode toward the mountain. By the time I was doing so, the last cloud ceased to exist and Mt. Rishiri, or Rishirifuji presented itself in its whole glory. I had almost made peace with it that I wouldn’t see the thing, but I got super lucky. It is a hell of impressive mountain, rising from the sea just like that to 1721 meters height. The island and thus the mountain have a circumference of 50 km. Rishirifuji was a volcano but is long inactive. Thanks to that the rough wind of the north, ice and snow have shaped it over the years and given it its ragged look.

The first afternoon was just a bit of exploring, then I got treated to a fabulous dinner with lots of seafood of the area.