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.
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.
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.