- Since this long route crosses one of the largest of the main Japanese islands, you have many options at each stage of the journey. Many of them have already been covered on the North Hokkaido Alternatives page, so be sure to check this page as well.

One of the easiest ways to augment this route would be continue on from Shiretoko. After cycling across to Rausu on the eastern side of the peninsula and climbing the mountain, you could head down the winding coast to Nemuro and on down to the port city of Kushiro. If you felt up to it, you could even go further down to Erimo Misaki (with reportedly some nice coastal scenery) and all the way back to the lake district again - or south to Hakodate where you started.

Another promising option would be to head west instead of east from Sounkyo and see Furano and Biei which have some very popular scenery (the flowers of Furano are a must for any Japanese tourist traveling in Hokkaido in July). You could then either go west and switch to the North Hokkaido route, going up the coast to the Saronbetsu-genya, one of Japan's finest wetlands (shown here) and north to Wakkanai and the twin islands of Rebun-to and Risshiri-to, or you could go southwest back to Sapporo. Or you could view Biei/Furano as a detour and simply continue on with this route by heading north and then east to Shiretoko. Or you could just save some of this for another trip - Hokkaido is so big that you can only see so much in a single journey.

If you get restless on the long ferry ride back, it would be easy to continue your Hokkaido journey on Honshu - simply choose the Shin-Nihonkai Ferry that stops at Tsuruga, get off there and switch to the Echizen route, ending up in Fukui. Otherwise, the most logical way to add a Honshu leg to your Hokkaido trip would be to hop across the straits (by bus, train or ferry) from Hakodate to Aomori and begin exploring the Tohoku area - either by going down one of the coasts or heading straight down through the center (the route we'd recommend if you can stand some hills). Among the sights: the beautiful Oirase river valley, shown here. See the Tohoku section on this site for information on this route. An upcoming route on this site will cover the northeastern coast of Honshu, which features the beautiful Rikuchu Kaigan - and the often truck-laden highway that seems to be the only way to see it.

If you've gotten all the way to Nemuro, you might want to visit the islands offshore... but, alas, wanting is about as far as you'll get. These are the disputed Kuril Islands, Japan's "Northern Territories," currently claimed by both Japan and Russia, and it's difficult for even Japanese to go there to visit their ancestors' graves. If you simply must set foot on Russian soil, a ferry from Wakanai to Sakhalin is a much more realistic goal. You can also go to other parts of Russia (such as Vladivostok), but only from Honshu, not Hokkaido. In either case, you'll need to get a visa, and in advance. Check out the Alternatives section of the North Hokkaido tour for a little information on getting Russian visas, and of course be sure to double-check the info by contacting the Russian consulate.

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