‘The end of the earth’ in Ainu, the finger-shaped Shiretoko Peninsula juts up into the Sea of Okhotsk is spectacularly scenic. Great mountain ridges, shimmering blue water and towering cliffs weave on the peninsula. Shiretoko was once Hokkaido’s ‘last true wilderness’, and today the core area is listed as a Unesco World Natural Heritage Site that provides a fantastic retreat for independent hikers. Utoro Onsen and Rausu are good bases for exploring the peninsula.
TO DO 01
Stopping by Shiretoko Museum in Shari
Shari is a main gateway for the western part of Shiretoko and Utoro Onsen along the Sea of Okhotsk. Most travelers pass through this town, but there are picturesque rural landscape views against the mountains.
TO DO 02
Admiring Shari-dake & Countryside in Kiyosato
With its picture-book countryside and windproof forests, Kiyosato is one of the loveliest rural towns in Okhotsk Region that can be easily traveled from Shari. It is a main gateway for the majestic Shari-dake, known as the ‘Matterhorn of Eastern Hokkaido’.
TO DO 03
Staying Ocean-view Hotel in Utoro Onsen
This port-side onsen village is a good gateway to Shiretoko’s natural wonders. Drift ice often covers the ocean in winter.
TO DO 04
Exploring Wild Western Shiretoko
Western Shiretoko offers easy trekking around the forested Five Lakes, Furepe Falls and Kamuiwakka Yu-no-taki. Then, cruising along the rocky coasts to spot higuma (brown bears) and hidden waterfalls.
TO DO 05
Wildlife Watching & Enjoying Open-air Baths in Rausu
Shiretoko East Coast’s main port town, the lively fishing town Rausu is Hokkaido’s premier whale-watching destination, with its wild roten-buro (open-air baths) and fresh seafood.
GETTING THERE & AROUND
BUS: The overnight bus Eagle Liner departs from Chuo Bus Sapporo Terminal to Utoro Onsen (7hrs 15min / one-way ¥8230, return ¥15,430) via Shari. If you want to take a rest after arrival in Utoro, the major hotels offer day bathing and breakfast services for night bus passengers from 7am (costs around ¥2700).
Akan Bus operates regular buses from Kushiro to Rausu (2-5 daily / 3.5hrs / one-way ¥4990, return ¥8600) pass through Nakashibetsu and Shibetsu.