Lupin III adourns the JR Hokkaido Train

Kushiro to Nemuro

Enjoying the Hanasaki Line of JR Hokkaido

Lupin III adourns the JR Hokkaido Train
R.S. Reynolds   - 3 min read

The day was warm and sunny, completely counter to the previous day of fog and mist. I arrived to board my train from Kushiro to Nemuro aboard a distinctly Japanese train. The exterior walls of the single-car passenger service were covered in murals of characters from a popular manga series entitled Lupin III. After taking a few pictures of it and the train on the adjacent track (the Norokko Tourist Train to Kushiro Shitsugen National Park), I hopped on for the two hour trip.

The Nemuro Main Line, sometimes referred to by its official nickname of the Hanasaki Line, is a quiet local train that offers daily service to the region (including some rapid service trains). On the day I traveled it was clear and sunny and provided fantastic views of the Eastern Hokkaido countryside. But as I’ve found during my first few weeks here in Hokkaido, the weather can change very quickly from region to region. Located only 120 kilometers from Kushiro, Nemuro is situated on a peninsula and when my train pulled into the final stop the fog rolled in-and-out of the city.

I had taken the train as far east as is would go, although technically the second-to-last stop of Higashi-Nemuro is Hokkaido’s easternmost station. The station is modest and was quiet and empty with the exception of the woman at the stand selling newspapers and snacks.

The realization that I landed in a remote part of the world was immediate upon the observation that the signs in Russian appeared just as, if not more, frequently than those in English. I was seeing the area by train and by public transportation. This meant that I had to walk 10 meters across the parking lot to the information center to get maps and tickets for local buses. English is very limited, but that’s to be expected and to be honest, is kind of the point of traveling to a place like Nemuro: To get away from the ordinary and explore something completely foreign.

I would end up making the best of the foggy weather and visit the nearby Meiji Garden before hopping on a city bus and heading 20 kilometers southwest to Shunkunitai to visit the nature center and trek along its trails.

At the end of the day I returned to Nemuro Station, quiet just as it was when I arrived. The evening had cooled down considerably, so it was nice to get into the warm train, settle into my seat and prepare for a restful journey westward along the Nemuro Main Line and back to the city of Kushiro.

R.S. Reynolds

R.S. Reynolds @ryan.reynolds

Man about town