Dances with Seagulls on the Akkeshi Bridge : Akkeshi Town
The JR Hanasaki Line that runs between Kushiro and Nemuro connects the major Ramsar sites of Eastern Hokkaido.
Taking the Hanasaki Line may be the easiest way to view the approximately 43km long Bekambeushi River that runs through the Bekambeushi-shitsugen (marsh). A one-hour train ride from Kushiro (The home of Kushiro-shitsugen) takes you to the mouth of the Bekambeushi River, Lake Akkeshi-ko.
Akkeshi Town is a picturesque village that lies along Lake Akkeshi-ko. It is famous for the delicious oysters harvested from Lake Akkeshi-ko, and you can now enjoy the locally made Akkeshi Whiskey. Previously, Akkeshi Town was essentially split in half by Lake Akkeshi-ko. To get to the other side of town, residents either had to cross Lake Akkeshi-ko by boat or take a roundabout inland route. This became a big problem as the town developed, so the Akkeshi Bridge was built to ease travel within Akkeshi Town. As fishers needed to take their ships out into Akkeshi Bay, the Akkeshi bridge was built with a high clearance.
The 450m bright red Akkeshi Bridge is the main landmark of the village and a source of local pride. Actually, the Chinese characters, 厚岸大橋, read as Akkeshi Ohashi or, ‘Great Akkeshi Bridge’. The bridge didn’t seem so ‘Great’ as we drove over it toward our hotel, but I thought it might be fun to jog over it.
I woke up early the next morning to find a dreary sky and heavy rain. However, I was determined to run over the bridge! I left the hotel, carefully counting the number of blocks to keep from getting lost and headed toward the bridge. It started to rain even harder! On foot, the bridge appeared much longer than it had the day before. Near the foot of the bridge I saw 3 seagulls (kamome, in Japanese) perched on a rail. I ran another 200 meters or so and found them waiting for me. Finally, when I reached the end of the bridge and turned around I saw them again! I don’t know if seagulls have a sense of humor, but they seemed amused by this strange human running over the Akkeshi Bridge in the pouring rain! 😊