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A mix of cultures in the very north of Japan

Wakkanai is a city located at the very north of Hokkaido . The city sprawls along the coast and provides access to the beautiful Rishiri-Rebun-Sarobetsu National Park . Given its location between Japan and Russia, this pocket of Japan is an interesting clash of cultures. Wakkanai is a must-see for people interested in the historical side of Hokkaido or the indigenous populations of Japan.

Don't Miss

  • Cape Soya, marking the Northernmost Point of Japan
  • The Wakkanai Fukuko Market for fresh fish, seafood, and souvenirs
  • Wakkanai's Port Northern Breakwater Dome heritage area

How to Get There

The best way to get to Wakkanai from the Honshu area is by plane. You can also fly or take a bus from Sapporo.

Soya Bus runs a daily service between Sapporo and Wakkanai. The journey takes six hours. Keep in mind that while this is a cheap and convenient option in summer, snowstorms can cause delays or suspension of service in winter.

Wakkanai Airport is 10 kilometers southeast of the city and has regular flights to Sapporo (New Chitose Airport) and Tokyo (Haneda Airport). If traveling from Asahikawa, you can catch the JR Soya Honsen train.

Quick Facts

A ferry service between Wakkanai and the two islands of Rishiri and Rebun was begun in 1934

The official tree of Wakkanai is the Mountain Ash

A trade city with a diverse history

Wakkanai prospered through trade after the first Japanese settlement was established in 1685 and functioned as a trading post between the Japanese and the indigenous Ainu people.

Learn all about the area's military past

In 1879, the village of Wakkanai was founded. It was established as a town two decades later in 1901 and later grew into a city. It was strategically important, and used as a base for anti-submarine warfare during the Russo-Japanese War and the Pacific War.

With the loss of Sakhalin in the aftermath of World War II, Wakkanai remained a military post throughout the Cold War, with American troops stationed there for a long time. To find out more about the history of the Wakkanai area, visit the Wakkanai Centennial Memorial Tower and the Wakkanai Karafuto Museum. The Wakkanai Karafuto Museum is part of the Wakkanai Fukuko Market, a portside marketplace with restaurants and souvenir shops.

A place to relax

If you're interested in a soak in a relaxing onsen, then it's worth a visit to Domu.

Try the delicious local seafood

Wakkanai is right on the ocean, and the local seafood is some of the best in Japan. Head to the center of the city to pick up some fresh seafood from any of the busy local shops and restaurants. The fish here is fresh, tasty and very inexpensive.

Take a cruise and explore a little further

To the east of Wakkanai Station is the Heartland Ferry Terminal, which offers ferries to the National Park islands of Rebun and Rishiri. If you are into hiking or want to see nature at its purest, visit one or both of the islands.

* The information on this page may be subject to change due to COVID-19.


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