Porotokotan and getting there

By Cubie - October 20, 2012

Bears were worshipped among the Ainus in the past as the highest God.
Porotokotan (or referred as Kotan) is located in Shiraoi, instead of Noboribetsu. If we are to take the train, we would have to take a bus from Noboribetsu Onsen (登別温泉) to JR Noboribetsu station, take the train and walk to the museum from there. The easier way of travel would be to take a bus from Noboribetsu Onsen to the bus station near Porotokotan. The train ticket from Noboribetsu to Shiraoi costs 350 yen, and bus from Noboribetsu Onsen to JR Noboribetsu train station costs 330 yen, giving total of 680 yen.

Noboribetsu Marine Park along the way
The lady at the hotel told me to get off at Shiraoi Eki Mae (白老駅前) station but I later found out that Poroto Mae (ポロと前) station is actually nearer to the museum. Don't get me wrong, 白老駅前 is actually not that far away, probably 10-15 minutes walk, just that ポロと前 is likely the nearest to the entrance of the musuem.

View from bus onwards to Porotokotan
Bus fare from Noboribetsu Onsen (登別温泉) to both Shiraoi Eki and Poroto Eki were the same, at 690 yen one way, per person. Hmm..so now I know, the convenience cost 10 yen :P

Apparently this is very near the train station but I didn't see it.
Must be mata sepet
If you get off the bus from Shiraoi Eki, then walk along the road in the direction of traffic till you reached a crossroad. On your left, you will see a supermarket (picture below), turn left and walk straight on till after crossing the railway track. At another crossroad, turn right. Actually even before you reach the second crossroad, you would have already see Porotokotan :)

Poseo Shiraoi
"Ainu" is originally an Ainu word meaning "human". The Ainu, are indigenous people of Hokkaido with their own culture and language. Porotokotan is an Ainu culture village said to moved and restored at the shores of Lake Poroto in 1965 to form this outdoor museum. Entrance fee to Porotokotan was 750 yen per person.

The statue of the chief is right near the entrance to greet you.  The 16 metres tall statue of Kotan-Korokuru holding an inau (wooden offering to the Gods) in his right hand, the chief prays for safety and happiness of visitors during their travels. (Source: Shiraoi Town website)

Kotankorkur statue (the statue of the chief)
The facilities include five Chise (a thatched house), a museum, a botanical garden and an animal barn. Porotokotan means large lakeside village, with poro (large), to (lake, pond), kotan (town, village).

Map of Porotokotan
It is call Porotokotan, so there have to be a lake nearby right? ;)
Just to show that I didn't simply put up a pic of lake and lie that it is in Shiraoi :P
I don't know, but it looks peaceful doesn't it?

It appears that bear is refer to as 'Kamui' in Ainu, which also translates to God
According to my read, to Ainu, bears are sacred creatures and forms the focus of many Ainu rituals. See the pole? It was actually empty in the middle, one could put in some food (which was on sale) through the pole to feed the bears.

The fore house, the next house, the big house, the back house and the small house
(from front to back)
There were eight schedule performances every hour starting from 9.15 am. Last performance at 4.15 pm. The performance was the traditional Ainu folk dances with commentaries on kotan said to take about 20-30 minutes. The dances were performed inside a cise- a thatched house. From memory, it was inside The fore house.

Somehow, it feels like the performance were longer than 20-30 minutes. Maybe the dance takes 20-30 minutes but inclusion of commentaries make it much longer. I remember the dance only started sometime at 3.40 pm and I ended up skipping the performance :(

Reason being, I wanted to take the 3.57 pm bus back from Poroto station as the one after was at 6.12 pm. Closing hour for Porotokotan was at 5 pm, which means we would need to wander around another hour or so if we do take the 6.12 pm bus.

There are only 5 buses that travel between Noboribetsu Onsen station to Poroto station. I only have the schedule from Noboribetsu Onsen to Shiraoi station. It is about 1-2 minutes bus ride from Shiraoi station to Poroto station.

From Noboribetsu Onsen to Shiraoi station:
0700 - 0741; 0850 - 0935; 1150 - 1235; 1351 - 1436; 1520 - 1605

From Poroto station to Noboribetsu Onsen station:
0735 - 0831; 1017 - 1113; 1240 - 1336; 1557 - 1653; 1812 - 1908

It was rather disappointing having to miss the performance, after all I have travelled so far to visit the place :( However kudos to the staff there who printed out the bus schedule and drew a map on how to get to Poroto station to get back to Noboribetsu Onsen bus station. After all, we got off the bus at Shiraoi Station instead of Poroto Station. The staff gave me some stickers ( シール) as consolation.

One each for my nieces :)
Anyway, to get back to Noboribetsu Onsen, walk back out to the main road. The Poroto station is just at the crossroad, opposite the supermarket (the earlier supermarket picture above).

Donan bus - Shiraoi Kotan Mae

Side note: Summer is definitely coming soon, there were 2 flies buzzing around :/

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