Nature lovers and wildlife-watchers will feel at ease at this Japan’s largest wetland (at 269-sq-km) directly behind the port town of Kushiro. This almost undeveloped wetland was the bottom of the ocean in ancient times and was designated as a national park in 1987.
It is a recommended day trip from Kushiro, where you can try trekking, canoeing and birdwatching.
10min walk from Kushiro-shitsugen Station
This popular viewpoint is open throughout year and easily accessible on foot from JR Kushiro-shitsugen Station. You can see the wetlands and meandering streams from here. The Hosooka Visitors Lounge has a cafe.
15min walk from Toro Station
On the southern shore of Toro-ko, this newly relocated museum has plenty of earthenware, Ainu artifacts, stuffed wetland animals and insect specimens. Don’t miss the Western-style wooden building of Old Kushiro Prison Headquarters constructed in 1886 in front of the museum.
Sarubo Viewpoint &
20min walk from Toro Station
A 20-minute walk north of JR Toro Station along Route 391, the wooden steps lead to the viewing platform of Sarubo where the panorama of lakes and marshes. From the viewpoint, a walkway leads to Sarurun Viewpoint nd the hidden 79m trigonometrical point (三角点). Closed Dec-Mar.
Kushiro Shitsugen Viewpoint
1min walk from Shitsugen-tenbodai bus stop
This notable red brick building, designed by Mozuna Kiko, illustrates the geology, ecology, flora, wildlife and remains of the wetlands. There is also a restaurant and an observatory with great wetland views. From here, a 2.5km circular wooden walkway runs in the forest via Kushiro Shitsugen Satellite Viewpoint.
Onnenai Visitor Center
3min walk Onnenai Visitor Center bus stop
A modern nature center with displays on the wetlands, maps, walking information and rental binoculars. A 3km circular wooden walkway on the wetland starts here. Kushiro Wetland Walkway (2.8km), on the disused Tsurui municipal tramway along the wetland, leads to Kushiro Shitsugen Viewpoint.
Kushiro City Zoo
1min walk from Dobutsuen bus stop
Japan’s easternmost zoo surrounded by forest is this 48-hectare wildlife park with Eastern Hokkaido’s native animals and birds, such as tancho (red-crowned cranes), gray heron, sea eagles, white-tailed eagles, whooper swans, owls, brown bears, deers and seals. The zoo is 18km northwest of Kushiro Station.
JR Senmo Line (釧網本線) runs east side of the wetlands along the serene river of Kushiro-gawa. For the fine views, sit on the left side heading from Kushiro. You may find it a convenient stopover to look over the wetlands and lakes.
From June to late September, the Kushiro Shitsugen Norokko Train (くしろ湿原ノロッコ号) has two daily runs slowly from Kushiro to Toro (50min), stopping at Kushiro-shitsugen (23min).
During winter, the SL Fuyu-no-Shitsugen-go (SL冬の湿原号) runs between Kushiro and Shibecha (1hr), stopping at Kushiro-shitsugen and Toro. Compulsory reservation.
Akan Bus (阿寒バス) has daily runs from Kushiro Station bus terminal stop 15 to the Green Park Tsurui (グリーンパークつるい: 65min), stopping at the main attractions on Prefectural Road 53, such as Shitsugen-tenbodai (湿原展望台) and Onnenai Visitor Center (温根内ビジターセンター).
Akan-honcho Line (阿寒本町線) runs between Kushiro Station and Yamahana Onsen Refre (山花温泉リフレ) or Akan-byoin (阿寒病院), stopping at Dobutsuen (動物園) in front of Kushiro City Zoo. There are very few bus services, check the schedule before you ride.
Hosooka Visitors Lounge
Located between JR Kushiro-shitsugen Station and Hosooka Viewpoint, this wooden lounge has a small information desk, some brochures, a cafe and a shop. It is a perfect place to wait for the train.
釧路湿原 | 구시로시쓰겐
Address：Toritoushi-gen’ya, Kushiro-cho, Hokkaido
Distance：17km from Kushiro