Kushiro Shitsugen Norokko Train in Hokkaido
The Kushiro Shitsugen National Park comprises Kushiro Marsh, the largest marshland in Japan, the Kushiro River and its tributaries, and the hills surrounding the marshland. The best way to appreciate the sceneries of this national park is with a sightseeing train. The Kushiro Shitsugen Norokko Train from Kushiro to Toro (about 50 minutes) operates from late April to early October (as of 2020), featuring carriages with open windows to let you fully enjoy the expansive landscape.
After crossing the Kushiro River, the train enters the Kushiro Shitsugen area which boasts views of the Akan mountain range in the distance. The train will follow the meandering river, passing by the untouched nature of the marshland. Lucky passengers may even spot wildlife including Ezo Deer, Hokkaido Fox, and White-tailed Eagle from the windows. Stop at the log cabin-style Kushiroshitsugen Station along the way, which is a short walk to the Hosooka Observatory with its breathtaking view of the entire marshland. At Toro Station, you can rent bicycles to explore the area around Lake Toro, or hire a canoe and paddle to Hosooka along the Kushiro River. If you scan the area really carefully, you may be able to spot the elusive cranes in the bushes along the river.
As wetlands such as Kushiro are sensitive to pollution, it is important to minimise your footprints by leaving no trace and opting for public transport wherever possible.