Attractions

Top Choice Lake in Kawayu Onsen

Mashū-ko

Considered by many to be Japan's most beautiful lake, Mashū-ko once held the world record for water clarity. The island in the middle was known by the Ainu as the Isle of the Gods. A road runs along the western rim.…
Top Choice Village in Akanko Onsen

Ainu Kotan

This collection of 36 households is actually the largest Ainu village in Hokkaidō. Residents make a living promoting their culture: dancing on the stage at Ikor, cooking pochie (fermented potato dumplings) in restau…
Top Choice Lake in Kawayu Onsen

Kussharo-ko

Japan's largest caldera lake is a rich blue on sunny days. A small volcano peeks out from the centre, creating the island Naka-jima – best viewed from the Bihoro Pass.
Wildlife Reserve in Tokachi

Bear Mountain

This 15-hectare forested enclosure in northern Tokachi is home to 12 male higuma (who range in size from 300kg to 400kg!). The clever viewing facilities include a boardwalk 5m above ground and, for a little more yen…
Museum in Akanko Onsen

Akan Kohan Eco-Museum Centre

At the eastern edge of town, this centre has exhibitions on local flora and fauna, including marimo in aquarium tanks. It also has hiking maps in English and info on trail conditions and bear sightings.
Park in Shari

Koshimizu Gensei-kaen

This is a spectacular 20km stretch of wildflowers along the coast between Abashiri and Shari. Visit in early summer and catch it at its peak, when more than 40 species of flowers bloom.
Wildlife Reserve in Kushiro-shitsugen National Park

Japanese Crane Reserve

Run by Kushiro Zoo, this reserve has been instrumental in increasing the crane population. There are currently 14 tanchō-zuru (red-crowned white cranes) living here, though they are free to leave anytime they like (…
Wildlife Reserve in Kushiro-shitsugen National Park

Akan International Crane Centre 'GRUS'

You can see a few cranes in breeding pens here but the real attraction is the Crane Observation Centre (open 8.30am to 4.30pm November to March), a winter feeding ground that is your best chance to see cranes outsid…
Viewpoint in Shiretoko National Park

Shiretoko Pass

Rte 334, where it traverses the Shiretoko Pass, is considered one of Japan's most scenic stretches of road. It winds about 30km through the foothills of Rausu-dake between Utoro and Rausu, passing groves of Erman's …
Volcano in Kawayu Onsen

Iō-zan

This hissing mountain (512m), a couple of kilometres south of Kawayu Onsen, is stained sunshine-yellow in patches from sulphur. Locals steam eggs in the hot volcanic vapours for a speciality known as onsen-tamago. C…