24th February: Hokkaido – Shiretoko National Park (Day 2)

This is a view of Utoro from my hotel window on my last day in Hokkaido, very early in the morning.

(Click to explore much larger image)

The plane was to leave in the middle of the day but first we made the most of the time we had left and returned to Shiretoko National Park.  This is Furepe Falls, the lighthouse and the cove again.

It is also a huge image, equivalent to an image from a 300 megapixel camera with an ultrawide lens, though constructed from many images.  Click it and zoom in for full detail.

Looking out across the cove to the point, where the previous day there was sea, there is now a veil of sea ice that extends out for hundreds of metres.

And here is Furepe Falls in all its frigid splendour.  If you click on the image two before and zoom into it, you can see more detail than by clicking on this image though it’s better isolated here.

The lighthouse from across the cove as the snow starts to fall heavier and visibility starts to diminish.

… and the curtain of snow descends ….

The silhouettes of the straggling trees contrast well with the snow-saturated landscape.

The last three images are from within the shelter of the trees, walking back up the hill to the bus.

23rd February: Hokkaido – Shiretoko National Park

After dropping our stuff off at the Utoro hotel and lunch, we headed further along the coast past the ice clogging the sea shore, towards Shiretoko National Park and Furepe Falls.

(Click for much larger image)

This is Furepe Falls, an entirely frozen waterfall with no water visibly flowing.   What you see here is a very small view of a huge image made from lots of exposures.  Click on it for a very large full-screen image you can zoom right into.  (Clicking opens it in a new page.  Next, click on the furthest right button at bottom right to open to full screen.)

The waterfall empties into the sea, into a cove and this is the head of that cove, from the top of the cliff.

On the far side of the cove is a lighthouse.  It looks out of place as you walk towards it from inland, as though it is just sitting in a field.

… and finally, this is Utoro in fading light and heavy snow.

23rd February: Hokkaido – Oshin-Koshin Falls

We drove along the coastline of the Sea of Okhotsk, heading towards Utoro, where we would spend the night.  Floating and beached ice lined the shore.

We stopped at Oshin-Koshin Waterfall, beside the highway.  This is an Ainu name, meaning a place where many Ezo Spruce grow.  Some of the water is visible, as you can see here, some flows under the ice and snow.

Remarkably, these are full colour images.  Monochrome conversion is not required.

It is actually a forked waterfall, with two separate flows.  One flow is visible and the other is almost entirely covered by ice and snow, but just visible here.

23rd February: Hokkaido – Notsuke National Highway

Here we are still in farmlands near Notsuke Bay with the mountains of Central Hokkaido in the background.  We are on our way from Notsuke Bay towards the town of Utoro, across the base of the Shiretoko Pensinula in North-Eastern Hokkaido and mainly along the Notsuke National Highway.

Trees in the snow, with a moving camera.

(Click to explore much larger image)

(Click to explore much larger image)

Here we are still not quite into the national park.  The two largest mountains on view will be Mt Shibetsu on the left and Mt Shari on the right.  The last two images are many images combined.  Clicking on either of them will take to a much larger full-screen image that you can zoom into and out of.  There’s another one later in this post, as indicated.

Here we are at a river by the side of the road that flows in some places and is frozen over in others.  We have gone over the Konpoku Pass and are nearly out of the national park on the other side of the peninsula.  I don’t have any images from the middle of the National Park, probably because there was nowhere for the bus to stop.

Now we are out of the national park and here are some silver birches, planted as boundaries to paddocks.

(Click to explore much larger image)

A couple more views looking back over farmland towards the mountains.

The Japanese can be very thoughtful.  Sometimes people may have difficulty knowing where the sun is so there are big arrows suspended over the middle of the road to let them know.  I expect they also have the dual use of showing where the road is when the snow is deep.

Sometimes you see the most curious things.  We had stopped on the other side of the road for a meal on the outskirts of the town of Shari and were only a few kilometres from the coast.  The van must have fallen over so unexpectedly that the reflection didn’t have time to change.  Assistance arrived about ten minutes later.

22nd to 23rd February: Hokkaido – Odaito

Please click on each image in this post to see them larger with a black background.  Because they are mainly nighttime shots they look better this way.

Late in the afternoon, we arrived at Odaito, a small township on Notsuke Bay, on the other side of the bay from the Notsuke Peninsula.  This is behind our hotel, in the fading light.

… (Click to expand to much larger image)

This panorama is from a similar position at around the same time.

Next morning, we rose before dawn again and traveled to a nearby elevated viewpoint, aiming to see a rare distorted sun rising over the ice and the sea.  The weather didn’t cooperate for this though and we didn’t even see a sunrise.  However, I found the views quite magical with the fishing boats far out on the Okhotsk Sea with their lights on for attracting fish as well as for navigating.  These are very distant views, taken with the equivalent of a 900mm lens.

There were other fishing boats on their way out.  They are still two or three kilometres away, on the other side of the Notsuke Bay and the Notsuke Peninsula is behind them.

The light levels were very low and it was foggy, giving rise to images that are perhaps reminiscent of pointillist impressionist paintings.

And here are a couple of the newer arrivals, sailing past in front of the ones already fishing out in the Okhotsk Sea.

Whooper swans and ducks, water and ice

We returned to the hotel for breakfast.  I was able to get this image at the back of the hotel before we left.

22nd February: Hokkaido – Notsuke Peninsula (Day 2)

Boat trailer in snow and ice

The weather was better than on the preceding day so we headed off again south of Rausu to the Notsuke peninsula and spent much more time there this time, mainly out of the bus.

Snow and ice at the shoreline

Snow and ice at the shoreline

Here we are on the northern and western side of the peninsula, looking out to the Nemuro Strait or the Okhotsk Sea (depending on the angle of view).  On the edge of this sea is not rocks but “boulders of ice”, washed in on the waves.

A duel at forty paces with scrubbing brushes, perhaps?

When I was taking this image I was thinking in terms of a metaphor for Man’s intrusion into an unspoiled environment.   This is not actually wilderness, though, and probably has not been so for a long time.

On the other side of the peninsula, looking out over the frozen Notsuke Bay, I found elegant austere landscapes.  Over in the distance somewhere is where we were later to spend the night.

Snow, trees and sika deer

Occasionally there were sika deer visible from the road.  These were probably 100 metres away.

Here we are looking west towards the Hokkaido mountains.

These three images are all looking north towards the mountainous coast of Hokkaido.

Snow, trees and sika deer

Here is another herd of sika deer from the side of the road.  No stags, this time.

The buoys for the fishing nets made tempting photographic subjects in the snow.