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Visiting Japan's largest marsh and lakes

2nights,3days Departure from Local Areas(Sapporo)

Visiting mother nature and Ainu culture in Hokkaido. Shiretoko and Akan, a hidden land designated as a world heritage site, and Kushiro-shitsugen Marsh, the home of the red-crowned crane.

  • 2nights,3days

Shiretoko-hanto Peninsula

[Traveling] (From June to the middle of October)

>New Chitose Airport -- <60 mins. by plane> -- Memanbetsu Airport -- <120 mins. by bus> -- Utoro Bus Terminal -- <5 mins. by walk> -- [Shiretoko Sightseeing Ship] -- <5 mins. by walk> -- Utoro Bus Terminal -- <30 mins. by bus> -- [Oshinkoshin Falls] -- <30 mins. by bus> -- -Utoro Bus Terminal -- -<15 mins. by walk> -- [Yuhidai]

[Traveling] (In other seasons)

>New Chitose Airport -- <60 mins. by plane> -- Memanbetsu Airport -- <30 mins. by bus> -- Abashiri Station -- <JR Senmo Main Line 50 mins.> -- Shiretoko-Shari Station -- <50 mins. by bus> -- Utoro Bus Terminal -- <30 mins. by bus> -- [Oshinkoshin Falls] -- <30 mins. by bus> -- -Utoro Bus Terminal -- -<15 mins. by walk> -- [Yuhidai]

*The times required with public transportation are approximate.

Shiretoko-hanto Peninsula

The Shiretoko-hanto Peninsula that juts out into the Okhotsk Sea east of Hokkaido is an almost completely hidden area covered with bountiful forests and pristine nature. The wildlife there includes brown bears, Ezo Shika deer and rare birds, and it was designated as a world heritage site in 2005. Be prepared for a certain amount of inconvenience in order to get there.

Shiretoko Sightseeing Ship

See from the ocean a steep two hundred meter-high cliff, strange-shaped sea caves, various waterfalls that pour into the ocean, and the Shiretoko Peninsula, which is called the last of Japan's undiscovered scenic spots. Runs from late April to about mid-October.

Oshinkoshin Falls

Before entering the town, you can see "the falls of Oshinkoshin" crashing down from the 60-meter high cliffs. You can also see sights such as the Okhotsk Sea and Shiretoko Mountain Range from the observation deck at the top of the waterfall.

Yuhidai

Be sure to get back to Utoro before night falls so you won't miss the dynamic sunset from Yuhidai. We also recommend trying the fresh local seafood such as salmon, salmon roe and sea urchin.

Shiretoko Five Lakes

How about hiking around the Shiretoko Five Lakes through the surrounding primeval forest in order to soak up the atmosphere of this hidden world? The water of the five lakes is groundwater welling up from the bottom of the lakes and there are no rivers running into them. It takes one hour to walk around all of the lakes. There is also a short 20-minute walk available. Before departing on your walk, you should pop in to the Shiretoko Nature Center and get a bell or spray to repel brown bears.

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1st Day

Lake Mashu-ko, Lake Akan-ko

[Traveling]

Utoro Bus Terminal -- <50 mins. by bus> -- Shiretoko-Shari -- <JR Senmo Main Line (60 mins.)> -- Mashu -- <20 mins. by bus> -- [Lake Mashu-ko] -- <90 mins. by bus> -- [Lake Akan-ko] -- by walk -- [Ainu Kotan] -- <by walk> -- [Akan-ko-onsen Hot Spring]

Lake Mashu-ko

Lake Mashu-ko, created by the eruption of Mashu-dake Mountain, is a crystal clear, magical lake in which the water level remains the same throughout the year. A fine mist covers the lake all year long, creating a very mysterious atmosphere. You can get an impression of its solemn beauty from the 1st vantage point.

Lake Akan-ko

Freshwater fish such as grayling, Japanese smelt and carp live in Lake Akan-ko, which lies in the crater of a volcano. You can go fishing there in the summer and also in the winter by making a hole in the frozen lake. There are many other winter activities including ice skating and snowmobile riding. From the end of January to March, a festival is held on the ice and the lake is crowded with people at night.

Ainu Kotan

The other must-see place is "Ainu Kotan" village situated at the east of the town. The Ainu are indigenous people of Hokkaido and they have lived worshiping nature since ancient times. This colony is the largest one in Hokkaido. There are facilities where you can learn about their livelihood and culture and there are also more than 30 souvenir shops. In the largest house there, you can see the ancient Ainu dance.

Akan-ko-onsen Hot Spring

At night, you will stay at Akan-ko-onsen Hot Spring on the shores of Lake Akan-ko. The building dates back about 140 years, and it is believed that the Ainu people first lived there. Most of the hotels face the lake, providing a panoramic view from the guest rooms or open-air spa. We recommend trying the tempura of fish caught from the lake such as Japanese smelt and grayling.

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2nd Day

Kushiro

[Traveling]

Akanko -- <60 mins. by bus> -- [Tanchozuru Natural Park] -- <60 mins. by bus> -- Kushiro Station -- <30 mins. by bus> -- [Kushiro City Marsh Observatory] -- [Kushiro Marsh Promenade] -- <30 mins. by bus> -- Kushiro -- <JR Limited Express or plane> -- Sapporo

Tanchozuru Park

You'll travel by bus from the lakeside of Lake Akan-ko to Kushiro city center. At Tanchozuru Park established to protect the endangered species of beautiful Japanese red-crowned cranes, about 20 birds roam free. Around May, you might have a chance to see their lovely chicks.

Kushiro-shitsugen Marsh

Kushiro-shitsugen Marsh is the largest marsh in Japan, having reached its current expanse over 20,000 years ago. Approx. 80% of the marsh is covered with grass and it is home to about 600 species of plants and 170 species of birds. In the winter season from October to March, you might have a chance to see a Japanese red-crowned crane, one of the protected species.

Steam Locomotive

Another way to enjoy the marsh is to take a train excursion. From January to March, a steam locomotive runs between Kushiro Station and Shibecha Station on the Senmo line for about 1 hour and 15 minutes. In the passenger carriages, there are coal-fired Daruma stoves or potbelly stoves. The train stops at Kushiro Shitsugen Station, so it might be fun to take a ride if you have a chance.

Norokko-go

On the other hand, from the end of April to September, a diesel locomotive called "Norokko-go" travels the marsh route. Norokko means slow, so you can literally relax and appreciate the view of Mother Nature from the train window.

Robatayaki

In the evening, why not try robatayaki at one of the restaurants in Kushiro city center? Robatayaki is where seafood is grilled over charcoal in an irori or open hearth, and you can eat fish grilled right in front of you. Kushiro is the birthplace of robatayaki, so there are many restaurants offering fresh seafood at a reasonable price.

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3rd Day

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