We arrived at the northernmost city in Japan, Wakkani, just after 5 am by overnight bus. It’s pretty early, but at this latitude, the sun was already up an hour ago, and it’s an amazingly clear day.
Wakkani is the jump-off point from the Hokkaido “mainland” to Rebun Island (礼文島) and Rishiri Island (利尻島), but it’s also a place worth visiting, if none other than Cape Soya (宗谷岬), the northernmost point in Japan. There are a bunch of islands further north that Japan claimed are “illegally” occupied by Russia, but disregarding the disputable territory, this is as far north as you can go in this country, and is a place of symbolic significance, in particular for those undertaking some journey to traverse or travel around Japan.
Just behind the cape on the hill is Soyamisaki Farm (宗谷岬牧場). On a large expanse of rolling field, there’s a road and walking course through it; it’s possible to see cows grazing and enjoy the vast view right in the middle.
There are several local buses going to Cape Soya per day, I presume they are mainly for tourists are it’s actually about half an hour away from town area. Some day tours are also available which drop by a few more places (including driving pass the Soya field). But since the places to visit are quite spread out, rental car would be a better choice.
Kita Bohatei Dome (北防波堤ドーム)
As the rental car shops only open at 8 am, we had some time to explore the local area. Not far from the train station near the coast is the Kita Bohatei Dome (北防波堤ドーム), a structure built as the breakwater for the nearby port (稚内港).
Cape Noshappu (ノシャップ岬)
Cape Noshappu is on the northwest of Wakkanai station. It’s just about 10 mins drive and also served by frequent buses. As it doesn’t have “northernmost” as the selling point like Cape Soya, it’s not that popular during the day, but it’s recommended for its great sunset view. There’s a also a small aquarium here specialising in aquatic life in cold water. But for us we were here to get some proper breakfast!