Eastern Hokkaido is known primarily for the Shiretoko Peninsula, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that features an unparalleled natural landscape. Designed to start at Memanbetsu Airport and end at Nemuro Nakashibetsu Airport, this short showcase of five different spots in the area brings you to the famous Shiretoko and beyond, introducing some lesser-known areas as well. With incredible nature, fun activities, and a good amount of local gourmet options, we hope it is a springboard for a successful voyage to the region.
A world full of surprises awaits at Shiretoko!
The Nemuro Strait that stretches in front of Rausu is the southernmost part of the world where drift ice appears. We suggest you take to seas and experience this incredible natural phenomenon by boat, on a cruise offered by Rausu Cruise Hamanasu. Many whales and birds gather in search of plankton and small fish that are nurtured by the narrow and steep terrain between the Shiretoko Peninsula and Kunashiri Island, the drift ice, and the natural environment of the Shiretoko Mountain Range. With that in mind, the boat operates on what it calls a “slow watching principle”, which aims to bring you close to these animals in their natural habitat by approaching them slowly so as not to scare them away.
372-1 Honmachi, Rausu-cho, Menashi-gun, Hokkaido
Catch the autumn leaves by bike!
Nakashibetsu Town, located in the Shiretoko Nemuro area, is well-known for having beautiful autumn leaves, which are viewable only a short distance from the city center. One fun way to experience is by renting a fat bike and exploring the area. The refreshing autumn air and different shades of the fall foliage make for a perfect excursion, and the fat bikes’ characteristically thick tires mean that even the gravelly off-road paths of the area become accessible. We recommend following the public road for a while before entering the gravel road along the Shibetsu River, where the scenery changes into full-on nature in an instant. Due to riding a fat bike, you will be able to navigate the tough roads with ease, and the outstanding balance they provide also ensure a safe and stable ride. You can rent the bike from the Nakashibetsu Tourism Association, who also offer guided bike tours.
1-1, Higashi 14 Jokita, Nakashibetsu-cho, Shibetsu-gun
A tranquil Onsen experience in Rausu
Rausu is one of the most popular hot spring areas along the Shiretoko Peninsula, boasting a long history since it was discovered in 1783. As you enter town, you will notice the smell of sulfur permeating everywhere you go. It is the perfect place to go and relax if you are in the area, and one of our favorite local inns is Minenoyu. One of the highlights here is the food, as Minenoyu offers a truly exhaustive seafood selection, almost entirely caught in the area. A typical menu will feature sashimi, followed by shrimp, cold appetizers with seaweed, and cod boiled with vegetables and miso. It doesn’t end here, however, with the main dishes consisting of grilled mackerel and big scallops, fish and vegetable tempura, and finally locally produced rice and a miso soup with Hanasaki crab. Especially the latter is a highlight, as the crab infuses a distinct umami taste into the soup. Of course, the selection of local Sake is also on point! Aside from the culinary delights, the hot spring itself is of course also worth checking out, allowing for a relaxing soak after taking in the breathtaking landscape of the area.
7-3 Yunosawacho, Rausu, Menashi District, Hokkaido
Taste a unique spin on a burger in Betsukai!
If you are looking for another interesting gourmet option, try the famous Betsukai scallop burger. Truly a marriage of flavors from both the sea and the land, this unique spin on a classic soul food item has taken Betsukai by storm, with four restaurants already offering their take. The main ingredient, scallop, is harvested locally off the coast of Notsuke Peninsula, and are known for being especially soft and juicy – they are even sold as a high-end luxury food item in Tokyo. The scallops are then rolled into a spring roll, topped with sauces and vegetables, before being served on buns made from Hokkaido wheat. Oftentimes, the burger is offered as a set meal, being served with French fries, soft serve ice cream, and most importantly, a glass of delicious Betsukai milk. Though difficult to imagine, the harmony of the milk together with the juicy burger is quite on point. While there are also numerous other scallop-based delicacies in town, we hope you enjoy this unique take on of the region’s finest foods when you visit.
Horse-back riding in Nakashibetsu
Another fun way to experience the region is by going horse-back riding at the Mutsu Ranch in Nakashibetsu Town. Finding its origins as part of the activities of well-known Japanese animal researcher Masanori Hata, the ranch today is welcoming visitors of any skill level who want to try their hand at riding a horse. All the horses that live here were born and raised in the area and are extremely friendly to humans. This means that even total beginners can try their hand at riding under the careful guidance of the knowledgeable staff. Highly recommended both for nature and animal lovers, horseback riding might just be the perfect way to top off your trip to the region!
Nakashibetsu-cho, Shibetsu-gun, Hokkaido
Kyowa 27 line 35