On the east coast of the Shiretoko Peninsula, the busy fishing town Rausu (羅臼) is well-worth visiting for marine life, onsen and seafood lovers. We recommend you to spend two days in the town and enjoy cruising, bathing or trekking.
Highlights Wildlife Cruising
Tourist Information Shiretoko Rausu Tourist Information Center (知床羅臼観光案内所): Michi-no-eki Shiretoko Rausu on Route 335 / 1 Hon-cho / 9am-5pm May-Oct, 10am-4pm Nov-Apr / www.rausu-shiretoko.com
Rausu has become Hokkaido’s premier whale-watching destination, with various sea birds and eagles coming here. The town’s seven companies operate cruises (from ¥4000 for an hour, from ¥8000 for two hours) from the fishing port into the Nemuro Strait throughout the year. You can book a cruise on the website or the ticket booths adjoining the Michi-no-eki Shiretoko Rausu (道の駅知床・らうす). Most cruises depart in the early morning and afternoon.
02 VISITOR CENTER
Rausu Visitor Center
羅臼ビジターセンター / Yunosawa-cho / 9am-5pm May-Oct, 10am-4pm Nov-Apr / Closed Mon, late Dec-early Jan / FREE / Wi-Fi / rausu-vc.jp
Located near the trailhead of Rausu-dake, this center provides the trail conditions, panels and a video on the Rausu-side of Shiretoko. The visitor center is a 10-minute walk west of Rausu Onsen (羅臼温泉) bus stop.
熊の湯 / Yunosawa-cho / 7am-5am / FREE
Translating to Bear’s Hot Springs, this leafy onsen along the river has gender-segregated open-air pools with changing rooms. It is maintained by local volunteers every morning (from 5am to 7am). The entrance bridge on Route 334 is just a short walk from Rausu Yaei-jo campsite.
GETTING THERE & AROUND
BUS: All buses originate at Rausu (羅臼営業所) bus station in the west side of town center on Route 334. There is a ticket office (6.20am-7.55pm weekday, 6.40am-5.30pm Sat, Sun & holiday).
Rausu Hon-cho (羅臼本町) bus stop is located behind the Michi-no-eki Shiretoko Rausu in the town center.
The way to Rausu on Shiretoko East Coast takes a long time, about 3.5 hours from Kushiro by Eastern Hokkaido’s longest local bus journey. Akan Bus operates regular buses to Kushiro (2-5 daily / 3.5hrs) pass through Shibetsu (1hr) and Nakashibetsu (1.5hrs).
From mid June to early October, buses run between Rausu and Utoro (4 daily / 50min), stopping at Rausu Onsen, Shiretoko-toge and the Shiretoko Nature Center.
CAR: Route 334 (Shiretoko Crossing Road), between Rausu Onsen and the Shiretoko Nature Center, is closed every winter from early November to late April. Note: before or after the road closed season, this section might be closed from 5pm to 9am when the weather is bad.
Route 244, between Shari and Shibetsu via the Konpoku Pass (根北峠), is open throughout the year.