Kushiro Marsh 釧路湿原
Japan's largest marshland is a haven for wildlife
Home to the tancho, Japan's iconic red-crowned crane, scenic Kushiro Marsh teems with a wide array of plant and animal life. With an overall area of 288 square kilometers, it is the largest marshland in Japan. The marsh is situated near Kushiro Airport.
- The Japanese red-crowned cranes, a national Special Natural Monument
- Miles of lush green marshlands, lakes and meandering rivers
How to Get There
Kushiro is best explored with a rental car.
Fly to Kushiro Airport directly from Haneda or New Chitose Airport (Sapporo). The vast marshland spans four municipalities: Kushiro City, Kushiro Town, Shibecha Town and Tsurui Village. The city of Kushiro is four and a half hours from Sapporo by train and five and a half hours by bus.
Home to 700 species of plants, it was the first Japanese marshland registered under the Ramsar Convention
The Kushiro River originates from Lake Kussharo and slowly snakes south through the marshes for over 150 kilometers
A big draw for birdwatchers, Kushiro Marsh and its surroundings are one of the few places you can see the magnificent tancho, Japan's rare and enchanting red-crowned cranes. You can usually spot them casually feeding in roadside fields all around the wetlands, but there are several feeding sites during winter which the birds visit in large numbers. Try the Tsurui-Ito sanctuary or a view of the sleeping cranes shrouded in morning mist at Otowa Bridge, and keep an eye out for Steller's sea eagles in the winter, and Latham's snipes in the summer.
Take in the views
There are a variety of beautiful and contrasting spots from which to view the wetlands. Go to Hosooka Observatory for impressive views of the marsh and the snaking Kushiro River. Bird watchers can walk the boardwalk at Onnenai to see cranes, zebra finches, great blue herons and other birds. Drive to the Kushiro Marshland Observatory for a panoramic view of the rich nature, or climb to the remote Kottaro Marshland Observatory for a majestic view of the marshland.
Take a nostalgic Winter Shitsugen steam train from Kushiro or Shibecha Stations through the Kushiro Marshland and view the East Hokkaido's most wintry wilderness. The Kushiro Shitsugen Norokko-go runs from late April to early October.
Perhaps your best way to get close to nature is by taking a canoe ride on Lake Toro. Choose from a variety of tours at the Toro Nature Center.
If you are feeling hungry, look for a secluded cafe hiding in the hills and valleys surrounding the marshes. Try Aurora Farm Village near Shibecha for a cozy meal around the hearth and a truly wild onsen in the forest, or Heart'n Tree Restaurant for original homemade dishes. Alternatively, head for Kushiro City to savor some of the freshest fish in Eastern Hokkaido at Kushiro Fishermen's Wharf and Washou Ichiba Fish Market.
The onward journey
Head north from the Akan Town side of the marshes to visit the picturesque Lake Akan, or north from Shibecha towards the majestic Lake Mashu . Both parts of Akan-Mashu National Park are around an hour's drive.
* The information on this page may be subject to change due to COVID-19.
Near Kushiro Marsh
Akan Tourism Association & Community Development Organization