日本のさいはてへ

Wakkanai dome

Wakkanai dome

もう半年近く前のことですが、稚内に行ってきました。

今年の1月のはじめのことなので、とても寒く、道はどこも雪に埋もれてすべりやすい状態でした。

Field of Hokkaido

Field of Hokkaido

Wakkanai Station

Wakkanai Station

The northern end of Japan's railway

稚内は地理的にロシアと関係が深く、いたるところにロシア語の看板がありました。今でこそ日本のさいはての地になってしまいましたが、戦前、樺太が日本の領土だったころは、樺太の各港を結ぶ交通の要衝として栄えたようです。

Wakkanai Station

Wakkanai Station

Street of Wakkanai

Sign at Wakkanai

Russian food at Wakkanai

Russian grocery store at Wakkanai

国境に近い街なので防衛も重要で、自衛隊の基地もあったり海保の船も万全の備えで泊まっています。

Coast Guard ship

稚内といえば「九人の乙女」で有名な場所でもあります。終戦直後、ソ連軍が樺太に侵攻してきたとき、樺太の電話局で働く9人の女性交換手が最後まで任務を全うしたあと、自らの命を絶った逸話が残っています。その記念碑が稚内公園の中にあるそうなのですが、残念ながら雪で稚内公園が閉鎖されていたため行けませんでした。

Wakkanai Park

あと1日あれば宗谷岬に行って宗谷海峡ごしに樺太を見てみたかったんですが……稚内公園とあわせて今年の夏にもういちど訪れる良い理由ができました。

Crab meal

Cape Noshappu

Wakkanai ramen

Wakkanai Airport

Japan’s northernmost end

Wakkanai dome

Wakkanai dome

Though it was almost half a year ago, I visited Wakkanai, the northernmost end of Hokkaido. Since it was the beginning of January this year, it was extremely cold outside with plenty of snow and the streets were very slippery.

Field of Hokkaido

Field of Hokkaido

Wakkanai Station

Wakkanai Station

The northern end of Japan's railway

Wakkanai is deeply related to Russia, since this city is just 40 kilometers away from the southern end of Sakhalin. When Sakhalin was part of Japan in the beginning of the 20th century, the city of Wakkanai played an important role in  connecting to ports of Sakhalin by ferry.

Wakkanai Station

Wakkanai Station

Street of Wakkanai

Sign at Wakkanai

Russian food at Wakkanai

Russian grocery store at Wakkanai

Defense is also important since it is very close to the border and there is such a risk to let illegal immigrants in and to let foreign ships invade this town.

Coast Guard ship

Wakkanai is one of Japan's cities symbolizing tragedy of the WWII. When the USSR began invasion to the southern half of the Sakhalin Island after Japan's surrender in August 1945, nine young women were working at a telephone exchange in the island. They were encouraged to escape from the island to flee to Hokkaido as it was going to be a dangerous place very soon. They refused to do it and chose to stay there because they wanted to do their job until the last time. At the time when Soviet Union's soldiers came to where they worked, they took their lives as they didn't want to be captured and molested by the soldiers. The memorial monument for them is build on the hill of Wakkanai city. I was eager to see this monument, but I couldn't do it since the hill was closed due to the heavy winter snow.

Wakkanai Park

With one more day I could've visited the Cape Soya and see the Sakhalin Island over the Soya Channel. This would be a good reason for me to visit Wakkanai again this summer.

Crab meal

Cape Noshappu

Wakkanai ramen

Wakkanai Airport