In the northwest side of Kushiro Shitsugen, Tsurui (鶴居) is home of tancho (丹頂: Japanese crane), also called sar-or-un-kamuy (god of marshland) by Ainu. During the winter, they nest in a group in local sanctuaries and rivers.
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Sleeping in Tsurui
Tsurui is a highly recommended places to stay for crane lovers, especially in winter.
Tsurui-Ito Tancho Sanctuary
鶴居 · 伊藤タンチョウサンクチュアリ / Naka-Setsuri-minami / 24hrs Oct-Mar / Nature Center 9am-4.30pm Oct-Mar (Closed Tue, Wed, 26-30 Dec) / FREE
At the eastern edge of Central Tsurui, this sanctuary is run by the Wild Bird Society of Japan and about 400 tancho come here from October to March. It is a 10-minute walk from the Tsurui Yakuba-mae (鶴居役場前) bus stop.
鶴見台 / Shimo-Setsuri / 24hrs Nov-Mar / FREE
One of Tsurui’s main places to observe about 200 tancho, this feeding ground is just a short walk from Tsurumidai bus stop. Follow the keeper around at feeding time (morning and 2.30pm from November to March). Buses to Tsurui stop here.
03 ONSEN & SLEEPING
Tel 0154-64-3111 / 1-5 Tsurui-nishi / Day bathing 11am-10pm, from 10am Sat & Sun (¥600) / www.hotel-taito.co.jp
Spruce compact hotel in Central Tsurui, Hotel Taito is the best location for both wildlife and onsen lovers. It offers Japanese- and Western-style rooms. The relaxed onsen with open-air baths are open to nonguests (¥600). There is a restaurant (11am-8pm).
Akan Bus has six 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 / ¥1250), stopping at the main attractions.