Around Kushiro, which is located in the eastern part of Hokkaido, many magnificent natural features abound, including the highly transparent Lake Akan; Kushiro Marsh, which is registered under the Ramsar Convention; and the Kushiro River, inhabited by many types of fish such as salmon and rainbow trout. In addition, there are many spots where you can not only taste rich, organic ingredients, but also where you can see, feel, and experience nature. While Japanese food beautifully presented on a plate is a treat, if you come to Kushiro, it’s a waste to simply visit a famous restaurant and wait for delicious food to come to you. How about a trip to a spot where you can enjoy Kushiro’s natural ingredients with your tongue, nose, ears, and eyes? Overturning the traditional image of Japanese food as small, elegantly presented dishes served one by one, we hope that you will enjoy a dining experience that will satisfy your curiosity as well as your stomach.
When visiting Kushiro, robatayaki is a must-try. A variety of ingredients, including fresh seafood caught in the waters near Kushiro, are grilled over charcoal. At Kushiro Aburiya, you can enjoy fish, meat, and vegetables that have been carefully grilled in a net above a fire of Bincho charcoal. There are also counter seats from where you can witness the craftsman’s grilling technique happening right in front of you. Ten minutes’ walk from JR Kushiro Station.
5-6 Suehiro-cho, Kushiro, Hokkaido
Watanabe Experience Farm
About 80 minutes by car from Kushiro Airport, at Watanabe Experience Farm, located in the grasslands at the foot of Mt. Mashu, about 120 dairy cows graze on a vast, 70-ha site. The unique appeal of this ranch is not only that it is fun, but also that it offers the opportunity to learn about dairy through delicious tasting experiences. In addition to the “Milking and Grassland Tour by Tractor Course,” which includes encounters with the cows, milking, milk-tasting, and a tractor tour of the prairie, you can enjoy various activities according to the time you have available, such as making butter or ice cream using fresh milk.
646-4 Teshikagagenya, Teshikaga-cho, Kawakami-gun, Hokkaido
Ashoro Giant Japanese Butterbur Field
“Fuki” (Japanese butterbur) is a vegetable native to Japan that has long been eaten all over the archipelago, embodying the taste of spring. Ashoro-cho, which is located between Kushiro and Obihiro, is home to Japan’s largest “rawan-buki”, a type of fuki that grows to a height of three to four meters. “Rawan-buki no Sato Kansho Hojo, Butterbur Field” in the same town, is a spot where you can feel the tremendous size of rawan-buki up close. The peak season is from June to July. At the town’s roadside station (Roadside Rest Area Ashoro Ginga Hall 21), you can enjoy rawan-buki in various dishes, including “Rawan-buki soft serve ice cream.”
Rawanmotomachi, Ashoro-cho, Ashoro-gun, Hokkaido
Smelt Ice-fishing tour by Toro Nature Center
Experience the quintessential Hokkaido winter activity of smelt ice-fishing through a tour provided by the Toro Nature Center, at such locations as Lake Takkobu in Kushiro Shitsugen National Park. Drill a hole in the thick ice covering the lake’s surface and hang a fishing line down into the water beneath to enjoy this winter fishing style. The guides bring cooking equipment along on the tour, allowing the caught smelt to be turned into tempura and tasted on the spot. The season is from December to March. 10,000 yen per person, with both guide and transfer included (tour carried out from two or more people). Required time: three hours; reservation required.
86-17 Kitananasen, Toro, Shibecha-cho, Kawakami-gun, Hokkaido
Roadside Rest Area Akkeshi Gourmet Park (Conchiglie)
Akkeshi, located to the east of Kushiro, is the only oyster-producing area in Japan that trades in oysters throughout the year. The Akkeshi Gourmet Park is a spot where you can enjoy oysters from Akkeshi in various ways. The second floor houses a seafood market and restaurants, including a restaurant where you can enjoy a hearty BBQ of oysters bought from the market, and an oyster bar where you can enjoy a combination of whiskey and raw oysters from Akkeshi. If you like oysters, be sure to stop by.
2-2 Suminoe, Akkeshi-cho, Akkeshi-gun, Hokkaido
Katte-don in Washo Ichiba Market
“Katte-don” is a specialty of Kushiro’s oldest “Washo Ichiba Market.” “Katte” means “as you wish” in Japanese, and as the name suggests, here you can experience making your own seafood bowl, with quality white rice bought from a delicatessen. Wander around the seafood shops in the market, and search for and purchase your favorite ingredients (the price of ingredients varies depending on the store: ingredients are sold by the slice or by weight). You can then have the shop staff serve the dish to you, allowing you to taste your ultimate seafood bowl.
13-25 Kurogane-cho, Kushiro, Hokkaido
If you want to experience hearty seafood in Kushiro in the summer, we recommend the summer-only robatayaki restaurant Ganpeki Robata, at the complex commercial facility “Kushiro Fisherman’s Wharf Moo,” a five-minute drive from Kushiro Station. At the outdoor restaurant, from where you can see Nusamai Bridge—known as one of the three major bridges of Hokkaido—you can grill your favorite seafood and vegetables, BBQ-style. Drinks and food are paid for using a ticketed system, so don’t forget to buy a 1000-yen ticket when you first enter the store.
2-4 Nishiki-cho, Kushiro, Hokkaido