For a break from everyday life, head to the east of Hokkaido, serviced by Memanbetsu Airport. Here, you will be able to experience a true adventure. Covering everything from hiking, boating, fishing and even including relaxing in the drift ice, our four best recommendations for this region will be sure to satisfy all your adventurous instincts and bring you closer to nature.
Shiretoko Peninsula Cruising
It goes without saying that Shiretoko, a UNESCO World Natural Heritage site, features pristine landscapes – and there are numerous ways for visitors to gain access to the region. The now world-renowned nature of Shiretoko has been shaped over thousands of years through waves rushing against the many cliffs, forming the magnificent mountain range that dominates the area. Therefore, it only makes sense to enjoy this natural spectacle from the sea. We recommend the popular Shiretoko Cape Cruise. Three hours in length, the cruise to bring visitors to the most inaccessible spots, guaranteeing a view of the unspoiled nature. The skilled staff on board will use their experience to guarantee a brown bear sighting, with the annual sighting rate reaching about 97%. Since many of the boats have open-air decks, you will be truly able to feel the nature, with the wind in your face while enjoying the tour.
51 Utorohigashi, Shari-cho, Shari-gun, Hokkaido
Another unique way to enjoy the area is brought to you buy The Kimun-Kamuy, which offers “Ryuhyo-yoku”, which can be roughly translated to mean “Relaxing in the Drift Ice”. Drift Ice appears in Shiretoko usually between late January to late February, and Ryuhyo-yoku sees you propped up on a chair and in a sleeping bag, enjoying the unique natural spectacle that is the drift ice. With the great white ice all around, you are surrounded by silence and fresh air, a kind of natural space. The company advertises you to simply “do nothing”, taking it all in while shutting off your mind for a while.
361 Utorohigashi, Shari-cho, Shari-gun Hokkaido
Hiking Mount Meakan
Moving further south, a great way to stretch the legs for a unique hiking experience can be found within the Akan Mashu National Park. Here lies Mount Meakan, which is 1,499 meters tall and an active volcano. Also known by the Machineshiri in the Ainu language, the mountain itself and surrounding landscape is characterized by a ruggedness that comes from its volcanic attributes. As you ascend, you will begin to feel your surroundings transform, from a rich vegetation that includes pristine lakes and lush forests to the quaint barrenness of the volcano, with its different shades of brown and red. We guarantee that you will feel a real sense of accomplishment once you reach the crater at the summit!
Fly Fishing in the Shokotsu River
It only gets crazier and more unique with our final recommendation: yes, we are going fly fishing! Located in the Abashiri region of Eastern Hokkaido, the Shokotsu River flows from the Kitami Mountains all the way into the Sea of Okhotsk and is renowned as a hot spot for anglers throughout Japan. Indeed, once the season starts on May 1st, the region attracts both fly and lure fishing enthusiasts from near and far. Even if you are a beginner, however, you can try to land a haul. The Takinoue Tourism Association offers a fly fishing experience for everyone, complete with a qualified guide that will teach you the basics. The main target is without a doubt trout, and there are numerous varieties of the fish to be caught. One word of caution: be aware that Hokkaido has designated the area a catch and release zone!