Explore a lesser-visited corner of Hokkaido with a trip to the port town of Tomakomai. Quite possibly the best reason to visit Tomakomai is to sample the local surf clams—the ones harvested here are renowned for their flavor and used throughout Japan for sashimi. In Tomakomai, you can also find the surf clams in the favorite local dish, curry ramen.
To get the freshest possible fish, visit the seafood market right next to the Tomakomai fishing port. During the summer, the port is also host to the Tomakomai Port Festival, a lively party of parades and fireworks fueled by local beer gardens. Near the city, you can also visit Lake Utonai, a nationally designated wildlife reserve that is home to more than 250 species of birds.
Tomakomai sits just 40 miles south of Sapporo and is easily reached by train from Sapporo Station. The ride takes about 60 minutes.