Japan’s most eastern mainland city, Nemuro (根室) is in the closest position to the 1150km-long Chishima Islands that stretches from Hokkaido to Kamchatka. Nature-rich, the 60km-long Nemuro Peninsula (根室半島) is a perfect place for birdwatching, wildlife cruising, footpath hiking and dining on fresh seafood. Nemuro makes a fulfilling day trip from Kushiro.
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Sleeping in Nemuro
Nemuro has plenty of options places to stay, from mid-range business hotels to budget guesthouses. The tourist information center is happy to help find rooms.
01 SCENIC CAPE & LOCAL HISTORY
納沙布岬 / 36-6 Nosappu
Nosappu-misaki is mainland Japan’s easternmost point and the earliest sunrise is 3.37am in mid June. On a clear day, you can see Kaigara-jima (just 3.7km east) and Suisho-to (7km east) belonging to the disputed Chishima Islands across the strait. Summer mornings are often covered a sea mist.
Nosappu Lighthouse (納沙布灯台), at the tip of the cape, is Hokkaido’s oldest lighthouse built in 1872 and reconstructed in 1930. Hoppo-kan Bokyo-no-ie (北方館望郷の家: 9am-5pm 16 Mar-15 Nov, to 4.30pm 16 Nov-15 Mar / Closed Mon Nov-Apr, 31 Dec-5 Jan / FREE) center offers a view to the bleak Russia’s outpost on Suisho-to through free telescopes.
From JR Nemuro Station, there are several return buses each day to Nosappu-misaki (44min / one-way ¥1070 / return ¥1930).
02 SCENIC PARK
明治公園 / 81 Makinouchi / 24hrs / FREE
Originally constructed in 1875 (Meiji period) as Hokkaido’s second government-run ranch, this well-maintained park has three red brick silos dating from 1932. Meiji Park is about 2km east of JR Nemuro Station.
03 LAKE & SANDBANK
Furen-ko & Shunkunitai
風蓮湖・春国岱 / 103 Tobai / 24hrs / FREE / www.marimo.or.jp/~nemu_nc/workn
The 59-sq-km lagoon Furen-ko is the natural highlight of Nemuro, providing sanctuary for 330 species of birds, including sea eagles, whooper swans and tancho (Japanese crane).
Shunkunitai is a 8km-long scenic sandbank separates the Nemuro Bay and Furen-ko. Much of the landscape is covered with pine trees and beach roses. It is also called the ‘miracle sandbank’.
Shunkunitai Nature Center (春国岱ネイチャーセンター) on Route 44 has a practical information and the latest trail conditions. From here, winding short and long boardwalks pass trough a wildlife sanctuary. The longest return hike for the dune takes about 3.5 hours.
Shunkunitai is a short walk from Tobai (東梅) stop on the bus route between JR Nemuro Station (19min) and Attoko Station (29min) or Nakashibetsu Airport.
04 FOOTPATH HIKING
At the southern tip of Nemuro is this scenic cape looking over the ocean. A two-hour loop track starting near the beginning of the Old Ochiishi Radio Station (落石無線局跡) built in 1923, taking in pine forest and wildflower gardens. Around mid June, sakai-tsutsuji (rhododendron lapponicum) blooms in the wetland.
The entrance gate of the cape takes about an hour on foot from JR Ochiishi Station (落石駅). The Eneos (8am-6pm, to 5pm holiday / Closed Sun) gas station, 450m south of the train station, sells footpath maps for Ochiishi-misaki and Hamamatsu paths.
05 FOOTPATH HIKING
From JR Ochiishi Station this 8km, 3-hour footpath loop through Hamamatsu’s scenic coastal hills, pine forest, sandy beaches and a fishing village. Wild dosanko (Hokkaido horses) graze in the pastures.
06 FOOTPATH HIKING
Starting at JR Attoko Station or Akesato-Ito Farm, this 10.5km circumference footpath goes along the disused railway track, through the forest and pleasant pastures. The easy 5km walk between the train station and the farm past the picturesque hill is also good. JR Attoko Station’s bus ticket office sells footpath maps (12.30pm-8.30pm Mon-Sat).
Nemuro is 2.5 hours from Kushiro by train (6 daily / ¥2860) on the scenic JR Nemuro Line (it also called the JR Hanasaki Line: 花咲線).