Plants & Animals

Shikotsu-Toya National Park

Shikotsu-Toya National Park's pristine lakes and expansive forests are home to a vast array of plant life and wildlife.

The park is covered with a mix of conifers and broad-leaved trees such as Ezo spruce, Sakhalin fir, Mongolian oak and Japanese elm. At higher elevations, you'll find Siberian dwarf pines and alpine plants such as Labrador tea and blue mountainheath.

The area is also a precious ecosystem for animals such as brown alpine hares, Hokkaido squirrels and Japanese deer. The Japanese scops owl, black woodpecker, and other species of birds inhabit in its forests, while spotbill ducks and tufted ducks frequent the translucent lakes.


Labrador tea

Labrador tea (Ledum palustre subsp. Diversipilosum var. nipponicum) is related to the rhododendron. This evergeen shrub grows in alpine and subalpine areas, and populates the volcanic slopes of Mount Tarumae in Shikotsu-Toya National Park. It produces clusters of small white flowers from June to July.

Labrador tea

Mixed Forest of Conifers and Broad-Leaved Trees

Groves of Ezo spruce, Sakhalin fir, Mongolian oak and Japanese elm line Lake Shikotsu's shores. The Bifue area is called the "forest of gigantic trees" for its towering groves of broadleaf trees such as Japanese elm, Japanese Judas (also known as katsura), Japanese linden, and sennoki (Kalopanax septemlobus).

Shikotsu's forests


Hokkaido Squirrel

The Hokkaido squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris orientis) is a subspecies of the Eurasian squirrel, and the most common species of squirrel in Hokkaido's lowlands and subalpine regions. It is active throughout the year as it does not hibernate in winter. The squirrel's fur changes color depending on the season—its reddish-brown summer coat changes to grey or light brown with patches of white under the chin and on the belly in winter. Hokkaido squirrels are most often seen on Mount Yotei and around Lake Shikotsu.

Hokkaido squirrel

Ezo Red Fox

The Ezo red fox (Vulpes vulpes schrencki) is a red fox subspecies spotted throughout Shikotsu-Toya National Park. It has black-tipped ears and limbs, and is larger than Honshu's red foxes. This nocturnal creature feeds mainly on rats, birds and insects, and occasionally fruits and nuts.

Ezo red fox

Black Woodpecker

The black woodpecker (Dryocopus martius martius) can measure more than 45 centimeters and is the largest woodpecker in Japan. Sporting a white bill and a brilliant red crest, it can sometimes be spotted resting vertically on the sides of trees. In Hokkaido, black woodpeckers often build their nests on Erman's birch, Japanese white birch or Sakhalin fir trees. These birds are so powerful that they can hack deep into tree trunks. Scarred trees can be seen around Shikotsuko Onsen.

Black woodpecker

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