The scenic JR Senmo Line (釧網本線) connects Kushiro with Abashiri, cutting across Kushiro Shitsugen and Akan-Mashu national parks. Although this line is best done with stopovers over two or three days, you can easily visit the breathtaking viewpoints, picturesque lakes and coastal wildflower gardens.
DURATION: 3 hours
ORDINARY FARE: ¥2860 (Valid for 2-day)
BEST TIME: June to September for warm weather. January to March for winter wonderland.
Kushiro-shitsugen & Toro ›› From these train stations, you can easily climb up to the observation decks overlooking Kushiro Shitsugen wetland.
Mashu & Kawayu-onsen ›› In the eastern part of Akan-Mashu National Park, this area includes two picturesque caldera lakes of Mashu-ko and Kussharo-ko, pleasant hiking trails and a variety of open-air hot springs pools.
Hama-Koshimizu to Kitahama ›› The placid lagoon Tofutsu-ko along the coastal wildflower garden is a good spot of many birds.
Kushiro is Eastern Hokkaido’s largest port town. Summer is often cool and grey, but a foggy night on the river bank is fantastic. A wide variety of tasty seafood and sushi fascinates many travelers.
From Kushiro, the scenic rail lines head east for Nemuro on the JR Hanasaki Line and west for Sapporo via the JR Sekisho Line.
0km to 20.0km
Kushiro to Toro
From June to late September, the Kushiro Shitsugen Norokko Train has two daily runs slowly from Kushiro to Toro (50min / ¥640) along the east side of Kushiro Shitsugen National Park, stopping at Kushiro-shitsugen (23min / ¥440) near Hosooka Viewpoint. Reservation seat fee is ¥530. For the fine views, sit on the left side heading from Kushiro.
20.0km to 73.4km
Toro to Mashu
Toro is a turning point of the seasonal Kushiro Shitsugen Norokko Train. The surrounding marshland area is a good for strolling and canoeing. From here, the line runs on the western shore of Shirarutoro-ko. After passes through the wetland, the train stops at Shibecha, where local buses run to Shibetsu on the Nemuro Strait.
Eastern Hokkaido’s first onsen town founded in 1883, Mashu (formerly known as Teshikaga) is a convenient location for exploring both Mashu-ko and Kussharo-ko by public transport. There is a free open-air ashi-yu (footbath) outside the train station.
A 10-minute bus journey north of the train station, Kawayu Onsen is one of Eastern Hokkaido’s most recommended places to soak and a good base for exploring the town. The train passes through Senpoku Tunnel (549m) at the border between Kushiro Region and Okhotsk Region.
With its picture-book countryside and windproof forests, Kiyosato is one of the loveliest rural towns in Okhotsk Region. Look out for the majestic Shari-dake, known as the ‘Matterhorn of Eastern Hokkaido’.
Shiretoko-Shari is a main gateway for the Western part of Shiretoko Peninsula and Utoro Onsen along the Sea of Okhotsk. Most travelers pass through this town, but there are picturesque rural landscape views against the mountains.
131.8km to 157.6km
Shiretoko-Shati to Kitahama
The train follows the shoreline of the Sea of Okhotsk. In winter you might be able to see ryuhyo (drift ice). After leaving Hama-Koshimizu the line sandwiched between the sea and the brackish lake Tofutsu-ko.
The seasonal station Genseikaen (May-Oct) is located beside the sandbank wildflower garden Koshimizu Genseikaen, with over 40 species of flowers bloom from June to July.
This lovely wooden train station has a charming cafe and an observation deck overlooking the sea. A 10-minute walk east of Kitahama Station, the pleasant lake Tofutsu-ko is visited by many birds, especially in winter.
Abashiri is the historical and cultural heart of Okhotsk Region. The town has varied museums, lakes and places to stay, which makes it an ideal place for explore. In winter most tourists take an drift icebreaker cruises into the frozen sea.
From Abashiri, the JR Sekihoku Line heads west to Asahikawa. There are also frequent buses to Memanbetsu Airport.