Kushiro is the biggest city in Eastern Hokkaido, but don’t let that fool you. Through amalgamation with surrounding villages, the city has gradually come to encompass a vast area of land, which includes the original city center, the famous marshlands as well as the picturesque Lake Akan. This means that a visit to the area has many offerings for the more adventurous type, and in this article, we have summarized four of our highlights in the region.
One of the natural highlights of Kushiro is the area’s huge wetlands, which have been designated as a national park. The ecosystem that can be found here features a huge variety of plants and animals, many of which are unique to the area. However, the nature of the wetlands makes them inaccessible by foot, which is why we recommend a canoe tour. Taking you through the winding paths of the many rivers in the area, you will be able to gain a first-hand glimpse at what makes the wetlands so unique. Listen to the chirping of birds, watching herd of ezo deer,take note of the small flowers and plants at your feet, feel the wind blowing across the marsh, and be calmed by the gentle sound of the Kushiro River. If you are lucky, you can see the Japanese crane couple.
65-2 Tatsukobu, Kushiro-cho, Kushiro-gun
Hiking Akan Mashu National Park
If you do prefer a good hike, the best place in the region is the Akan Mashu National Park. The park features an extremely unique landscape, contrasting pristine lakes and lush forests on the ground with the volcanic atmosphere of the mountains – headlined by the active volcano Mount Meakan, which stands at 1,499 meters tall. While ascending the mountains, you will begin to feel your surroundings transform, with the rustic barrenness of the volcano coming into view, the colors transforming from shades of green to brown and red. For the fullest possible hiking experience, we heartily recommend the guided 4-day 5-night “volcano trail” tour by local company Hokkaido Treasure Island Travel!
Ice Horizon at the Notsuke Peninsula
The Notsuke Peninsula is located on the eastern tip of Hokkaido, extending from the town of Shibetsu into the Nemuro Strait. It is characterized by its curved shape as well as Japan’s longest sandspit at about 28 kilometers in length. It is this unique nature that makes for an unbelievable spectacle in winter. Dubbed the “ice horizon” by locals, making your way to the peninsula in a dead of winter will afford you an incredible 360-degree view of ice as far as you can see. This unique scenery is made possible by the partial freezing of the ocean in between the peninsula and the main land of Hokkaido, which occurs from the end of January to March. With nothing blocking your view, the pristine sheets of ice make for a landscape that is just begging to be photographed, especially during sunrise or sunset.
If you want to make another foray into the Kushiro Wetlands, Canadian Canoe has some unique offerings for you. As mentioned above, a canoe affords you access to the wetlands in a way that conventional modes of transportation simply cannot, and the charming operators of Canadian Canoe have upped the ante with their large variety of tours along the Kushiro River. One of our absolute favorites is the winter cruise, which affords a view of the wetlands in the dead of winter. With the white of the snow all around, the partially frozen surroundings allow for even more access to the marsh, an experience that is simply impossible to have in other seasons.
88-5 Toritoshi, Kushiro-cho, Kushiro-gun, Hokkaido