True wilderness filled with untouched lakes, sunken forests, rare birds and other beasts
Hokkaido's Shiretoko Peninsula offers some of Japan's most pristine and unspoiled natural beauty. There is nowhere more "off-the-beaten-path" than Shiretoko. It's a great place to connect with the simple pleasures of nature.
- Shiretoko National Park for Hokkaido nature at its best
- Drift ice cruises in the winter
- Delicious fresh seafood straight from the ocean
- Watching rare birds
How to Get There
There are direct flights from Tokyo (both Haneda and Narita Airport) to Memanbetsu Airport and Kushiro Airport, and flights from Haneda Airport to Monbetsu Airport. For travel within Hokkaido, there are direct flights from Sapporo (New Chitose Airport) to Memanbetsu Airport and Nemuro Nakashibetsu Airport, the two closest to Shiretoko.
Local public transit is scarce, so it's best to see the area by car (or rental car). However, there is an overnight bus from Sapporo that takes you to the Shiretoko area's main bus terminals and hotels.
Pristine natural beauty at Shiretoko National Park
Shiretoko National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site set in the magnificent mountains and steep cliffs of the northern tip of the Shiretoko Peninsula.
From spring to autumn, you can admire the serene five lakes known collectively as Shiretoko Goko, follow hiking trails to hidden waterfalls, or take a nature cruise from Utoro for the chance to see brown bears leading their cubs along the shore, as well as some of the many species of whales, dolphins, and seals that thrive in the nutrient-rich waters. In winter, take a cruise from Rausu to observe white-tailed sea eagles and Stellar's sea eagles. Or participate in a "drift ice walk tour," where you wear a dry suit and walk on drift ice. The opportunity to dive under the ice floes is a unique winter experience in Shiretoko.
The tip of the iceberg
The Shiretoko area is much larger than just the national park and offers some wonderful surprises for the adventurous. Drive 50 kilometers south along the beautiful coast road from Rausu, and you will come to the entrance to Notsuke Peninsula , a long sandbar reaching out into the Nemuro Strait.
Take a stroll to admire the dramatic landscape of sunken forests, grazing deer, wildfowl and native flowers. The imposing Kunashiri Island sits just a few miles across the waters.
In winter, you can see miles of drift ice floating south on the currents toward Nemuro and Cape Nosappu . Halfway between Notsuke and Nemuro is Lake Furenko, a mecca for birdwatchers. Roughly 300 species of wild birds are regular visitors here, so take all your camera gear to get some memorable snaps of Steller's sea eagles and Japanese red-crowned cranes.
Relaxing waters and mountain views
Head inland and away from the choppy waters of the Nemuro Strait to get the best views of the glorious Shiretoko mountain range stretching out into the distance. Try Kaiyoudai Observatory in Nakashibetsu or Tawadaira Observatory in Shibecha for the best views.
End your day with a hot soak and delicious dinner at secluded Yoroushi Onsen.
Rich and delicious fish
It's no wonder that so many bears, whales, dolphins, and birds thrive on and around the Shiretoko Peninsula. The waters are replenished annually by rich nutrients deposited by the drift ice, meaning you get to try some of the best local seafood in Japan.
As a starter, try some uni (sea urchin) and hokke (Atka mackerel) in Utoro and Rausu; follow up with some ikura (salmon roe), shrimp and scallop in Odaito; and there's always room for some Hanasaki crab from Nemuro and its famous sanma (Pacific saury).
* The information on this page may be subject to change due to COVID-19.