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Getting there & around

Wakkanai is small enough for most of the sights to be reached on foot or bicycle. Bikes are available for ¥500 per day (June to September) through TMO (29-0277; Mon-Fri), a Wakkanai city tourism association. Pick one up around the corner from the TMO office in the shopping arcade or, on Saturdays, at the eyeglass shop Megane no Nagano (22-7070), also in the arcade. Hours vary.

Considering how remote it is, Wakkanai is easy to get to. Between Wakkanai and Sapporo there is one flight daily to New Chitose Airport (50 minutes) and two to Odama (one hour); both cost ¥20, 300 during peak times. Wakkanai also has direct flights to Tokyo (¥40, 500, 1¾ hours). Buses to Wakkanai airport (35 minutes, for airline passengers only) cost ¥590.

There are a few tokkyū trains that travel between Wakkanai and Asahikawa (¥8070, four hours); most continue on to Sapporo (¥10, 170, five hours). An overnight train runs in summer, leaving at about 11pm and arriving in Wakkanai at 6am.

There are several daily buses to Sapporo (¥5500, six hours) and a daily bus to Asahikawa (¥4350, 4¾ hours). Discounted return tickets are available for both. Advance reservations (23-5510; 5.30am-6pm & 9.30-11pm) are required.

The Higashi Nihonkai Ferry (23-3780) leaves from Wakkanai to Rishiri-tō (¥1980, 1¾ hours) and Rebun-tō (¥2200, two hours), as well as to Russia’s Sakhalin Island (¥22, 500). Parking at Wakkanai’s ferry terminal is ¥1000 per night. You will have to wait for up to two weeks for a visa, so be sure to plan well in advance.