The Oshinkoshin Waterfall (Oshinkoshin-no-taki [オシンコシンの滝]) was a very beautiful wide fan-type waterfall that was kind of split in the middle by a tree-covered rock as the water made it way into the Sea of Okhotsk not much further downstream. In a way, Julie and I thought of it as a precursor to the gorgeous and naturesque beauty of Shiretoko National Park as this waterfall was for all intents and purposes right at its doorstep!
From the elongated roadside car park (see directions below), we walked up a short but wide stairway terminating at the misty front of the falls. The higher up we went on the steps, the more mistier it got so most of the photos we took of it were at an angle looking from the bottom up. In order to get full frontal shots of the falls, we would've needed a very wide angle lens as well as some luck since the swirling mist most certainly got our camera lenses wet.
Julie and I weren't sure if there was another way to get different views of this waterfall from its top. We made this speculation because we did see what appeared to be railings up there. If true, then in hindsight, we probably should've taken the time to look for a way to go up there so we could experience a top down perspective of the falls backed by the Sea of Okhotsk. Further adding fuel to our speculation, I thought I did notice some photo to that effect on some tourist brochures.
On the other side of the road (definitely have to cross it carefully as cars quickly speed on this stretch of highway), we could see what was left of the cascading stream spilling right into the sea. The rocky coastline limited what we could see up and down the coast, but given how cold it was up here, this was certainly no place for a swim!
The name of the falls was actually an Ainu word, which might explain why there are so many characters in its written name in Japanese. I suspect most of those characters were probably sound characters to aid in its pronunciation. We're not sure what its meaning was though.
The Ainu were natives of Japan, especially in the Hokkaido region. In a way, it was almost analogous to how one might see the influence and/or presence of Eskimos in Alaska or Sami people in northern Scandinavia. The Ainu were part of the heritage of this region of Japan so we noticed a few small towns and museums (including one in Sapporo) devoted to these people as we toured throughout much of Hokkaido.
Within the town of Utoro (just 10 minutes north of Oshinkoshin Waterfall) was this intriguing waterfall. We don't know much about this waterfall, including its name
A short distance further northeast of Utoro led us into the wild Shiretoko National Park, which included the beautiful Shiretoko Goko (Five Lakes)
Shiretoko National Park is known for wild Nature (there's practically no development here), and it wasn't unusual for us to see grazing deer. There's even bear activity in these parts!
About less than an hour drive south of Shari off Hwy 391 and a local access road was the beautiful crater lake called Lake Masho or Mashoko
More direct view of the Oshinkoshin Waterfall
Looking back at part of the falls and the Sea of Okhotsk
More familiar look at the stairs right before the falls
Looking upstream towards the mostly obscured waterfall from the road bridge right before the tunnel
Looking back at the steps and part of the falls from across the highway
More contextual view of the falls and the stairs fronting it from across the highway
Looking at the outlet of the waterfall as it joins the Sea of Okhotsk
Twilight view towards the town of Utoro from our accommodation at Dolphin Bay
I can't translate the kanji characters in this sign, but given that it's repeated four times, I suspect it's more of a warning (not to drink the water perhaps) than it is informative. This waterfall was right in the town of Utoro
It took us a brutally long 5-hour drive to get from Asahikawa to Oshinkoshin Waterfall along a combination of Hwy 40 (to get out of Asahikawa), Hwy 39, and Hwy 334. Unfortunately, the 50km/h speed limit throughout much of the drive didn't help in that regard.
We switched from Hwy 39 to Hwy 334 at Abashiri, and then continued further east to Shari. The drive from Shari to Utoro was about an hour or so to the north along the northeastern coastline at a leisurely pace.
Eventually as the Hwy 334 was about to approach a tunnel, we spotted the elongated roadside parking lot for the Oshinkoshin Waterfall on our right. The car park was large enough to accommodate a bunch of cars and a handful of tour buses.
On the other side of the tunnel, the town of Utoro (the closest civilization to the nearly pristine reserve Shiretoko National Park) sat another 10 minutes further. This was where Julie and I based ourselves for exploration of Shiretoko National Park.
For geographical context, Asahikawa was 137km (2 hours by car or 2 hours by train) northeast of Sapporo. Sapporo was about 9.5 hours by train or 90 minutes by flight from Tokyo. It was also possible to fly to Sapporo from Osaka (under 2 hours) or Kobe (2 hours; this was how we did it on our trip).
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