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.
Points of interests in Tsurui
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.
Tsurui-Ito Tancho Sanctuary
(鶴居 · 伊藤タンチョウサンクチュアリ) 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) 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).
(音羽橋) This bridge, across Setsuri-gawa (雪裡川), is Tsurui’s most photographed spot for tancho, especially at dawn in winter. Visitors release the shutter towards tancho on the river. Otowa-bashi is so popular and cold from December to March. The closest bus stop is Shimo-Setsuri (下雪裡: 1.7km west of the bridge) on the prefectural route, one stop south of Tsurumidai.