Welcome to another one of our themed area guides, this one focusing on enjoying a relaxing time in Kushiro, the largest city in Eastern Hokkaido. The city itself is primarily defined by its fishing industry, and therefore the harbor and surrounding areas is one of its main attractions. The sunset you can see from here has been grabbing worldwide attention for decades now, making for a perfect end to any day spent in the region. The tranquil lakes of Kushiro are another highlight, and we will introduce some perfect spots to enjoy them to the fullest. While you can certainly also enjoy a more adventurous vacation in Kushiro, everything showcased below is designed to take things down a notch and chill out.
Sunset at Nusamai Bridge
We begin by introducing perhaps the most famous spot to enjoy Kushiro’s renowned sunset. Indeed, the marvelous shades of red, orange and purple of this spectacle have been documented for cades by word of mouth, with foreign sailors spreading the tales of its beauty for hundreds of years. This is one reason it is today known as one of the “three greatest sunsets of the world”. If you are in the city center, head over to the famous Nusamai Bridge, which extends over the Kushiro River. Here, locals and visitors alike flock to the “Four Seasons Statue”, which provides a perfect motive to snap a shot of the setting sun. Another great angle is to gaze, from the top of the bridge, towards the mouth of the river. There is no doubt that the city of Kushiro has also realized the marvels of this spot, as the Nusamai Bridge is consistently lit up for around 30 minutes after the sun has set. Therefore, we recommend to stick around for a while!
SEA CRANE sunset boat tours
There is also another great way to enjoy Kushiro’s legendary sunset, one that brings you out to the ocean. Indeed, the sightseeing cruise operator SEA CRANE offers special sunset cruises, allowing you gaze into the horizon as the sun sets, with the city to your back. Take note, however, that the cruise is only operational during the warmer months, from April to November. The sunset cruise departs 1 hour before sunset, taking you out with plenty of time to snap ample shots of the sunset. In addition, the company also offers a “picnic cruise” during the day on weekends, and a “night cruise” that operates by charter only. All of these cruises come with a selection of alcohol, soft drinks and snacks to enjoy, meaning that you will have all the amenities to enjoy a relaxing time on the sea.
1-11-6 Aikokunishi, Kushiro-shi, Hokkaido
A walk around Lake Akan
Lake Akan is a fascinating place, none the less because it is known as one of the few areas where the culture of Hokkaido’s indigenous people, the Ainu, is still alive. One of the reasons the area is deemed spiritual to the Ainu is the presence of the natural phenomenon known as “Bokke”, in which hot mud and volcanic gas blows out from the ground. If you are staying at Lake Akan and wish to enjoy the tranquil scenery while taking in this phenomenon, we recommend a light walk along the lake’s shores. The easiest way to do this is by taking on the Bokke Walking Trail, which is located east of the Akanko Onsen district. The trail is 1.5 kilometers in length and stretches along the lakeshore and into the nearby forest. About halfway through, you will be able to see the Bokke, while wandering deer could join you on your stroll at any time!
Nemuro Peninsula Chashi Sites
The Notsuke Peninsula is located on the eastern tip of Hokkaido, extending from the town of Shibetsu into the Nemuro Strait. It is known for its curved shape as well as Japan’s longest sandspit at about 28 kilometers in length, as well as the “ice horizon” phenomenon that sees large stretches of the inland sea frozen during winter. Other notable spots on the peninsula are the Numuro Peninsula Chashi Sites, which are historical sites of the indigenous Ainu. The word Chashi literally means palisade, and it refers to the hundreds of former Ainu fortifications that have been unearthed throughout Hokkaido. The site on the Nemuro Peninsula features more than 10 of these, and visiting one or more of them is an excellent opportunity to learn more about Ainu Culture at a leisurely pace.