Cape Kamui (神威岬), Hokkaido.
One of the main reasons I wanted to visit Cape Kamui was because I saw some pictures online and instantly I fell in love with the scenery. Steep cliffs jutting out into the deep crystal blue. Not only full of vivid colours, in the distance you can see Mt. Shakotan-dake with its snowy tops, and during the hike you’d come across the Kamui-misaki Lighthouse (神威岬灯台) which is near the very tip of the cape, once you see the light-house you know you’re close to the end of the path where you can enjoy a panoramic view of the sea. On the rock some people have left coins, you can also make a wish. Kamui, the name itself originates from the indigenous Ainu language of Hokkaido and it means God.
I have to admit the path wasn’t a piece of cake, with ups and downs, bumpy and rocky bits. Comfy footwear is advised, during the hike I noticed some girls in heels and I thought to myself…’I like your shoes but that looks like torture!’ The raw redness on the back of their feet said it all. I saw families with kids, elderly couples, and some tourists.
Every so often you’d find benches so if you need a break, which I did several times, you can plot your bottom down and recharge. Maybe a small backpack with water will be useful. I think it took me about a good 30 mins there and 30 minutes back at a leisure speed that consisted of several quick breaks, picture snapping and view admiring stops.
There are public toilets near the car park area so make sure you go do your business beforehand. There is also a restaurant and gift shop that may spike your interest.
The opening times will differ depending on the season and weather so it’s best to do your research. A lot of people recommend going during the morning, early afternoon or catching the sunset but nightfall might be a tricky one depending on the month of visit, sometimes it’ll close at 7pm and in December through to March they close around 3pm. I went after lunch time to ensure I had power-upped my legs.
Cape Kamui has a very old legend saying women were prohibited from entering. Evidently the entrance has a wooden sign that reads: 女人禁制の地 神威岬 Women are forbidden on this land Cape Kamui. Once there was a daughter of an Ainu’s Chief who had fallen in love with a man. The man left the land to travel further north, the lady cried out loud at the tip of the cape but her words couldn’t reach him as they were drowned by the strong winds of the sea and he had ready set sailed. She cursed the land with her words ‘I’m going to sink the ships that passes through here with carrying women!’ and then she threw herself into the sea and turned in the rock we see today, the Kamui-Iwa.
Cape Kamui is definitely one of my most fond memories of Hokkaido and I am surprised, for a lazy-bum person like me, I managed to hike there and back with only suffering from mild back pain and sore leg muscles, but the rest of me couldn’t care less because my eyes got to see beauty at its most finest!