From the Nemuro Peninsula to the Shiretoko Peninsula across the vast Konsen Plateau, this coastal route offers a rewarding road trip. The highlight is the Notsuke Peninsula, Japan’s longest sandbank juts up into the ocean.
DURATION: 5.5 hours +
BEST TIME: Mid June to early October. January to March for winter wonderland.
BUSES: Nemuro Kotsu (nemurokotsu.com) operates both local and airport shuttle buses between Nemuro Station and Nakashibetsu via Attoko. Akan Bus (www.akanbus.co.jp) runs from Nakashibetsu to Shibetsu, as well as Rausu.
Furen-ko ›› Spending a few hours exploring around this nature-rich lake by boats or scenic boardwalks.
Notsuke Peninsula & Odaito ›› Wandering Japan’s longest sandbank and see the lovely seals from a cruise ship.
Shibetsu ›› Strolling the Po-gawa Historical Place Forest Park and Shibetsu Salmon Park.
Japan’s most eastern mainland city, Nemuro is in the closest position to the 1150km-long Chishima Islands that stretches from Eastern Hokkaido to Kamchatka. Nature-rich, the 60km-long Nemuro Peninsula is a perfect place for birdwatching, wildlife cruising, footpath hiking and dining on fresh seafood.
0km to 32km
Nemuro to Attoko
From Nemuro Station bus terminal, Nemuro Kotsu operates local buses for Attoko (厚床) and the airport shuttle buses for Nakashibetsu (中標津) via Attoko. Both buses stop at Tobai (東梅) near Shunkunitai sandbank and the Michi-no-eki Swan 44 Nemuro (道の駅スワン44ねむろ) on the serene laggon Furen-ko.
On the western edge of Nemuro on the JR Hanasaki Line, Attoko (厚床) is a starting point of the circumference footpath passes through the forest and pleasant pastures.
From Attoko Station, there are several local and airport shuttle buses for Nakashibetsu via Betsukai. If you take a bus from Ito Bokujo-mae (伊藤牧場前) on the footpath with a cafe, raise your hand on the road.
Both local and airport shuttle buses stop at Okuyuku (奥行) in Betsukai. Near the bus stop, you will find the historic wooden ekiteisho (駅逓所), built in 1910 as a Hokkaido-style relay station with an accommodation, a post office and horses. You will find two old train stations near here.
Betsukai (別海: often called Bekkai to locals) is two times larger than Tokyo’s 23 wards. Some 15,000 people and 120,000 cows (!) living this grand-scale town.
Betsukai Purato (別海ぷらと) is the town’s main bus terminal and all buses for Nakashibetsu stop here. From here, the municipal bus (別海町地域生活バス尾岱沼線) runs to Higashi Kominkan public hall (東公民館: 2-3 daily except Sun & holiday / 1hr) in Odaito.
Nakashibetsu (中標津) is considered the center of the Konsen Plateau. High on a grassy hill about 12km north of town, Kaiyodai is the region’s most famous observatory.
Akan Bus operates local buses to Kushiro, Shibecha (on the JR Senmo Line), Shibetsu and Rausu. There is an airport close to the town center.
The fishing town Shibetsu (標津) is a gateway to the Notsuke and Shiretoko peninsulas facing the Nemuro Strait. From the salmon aquarium to the historic ruins, there are a few seasonal attractions worth visiting around the town center.
DETOUR: 19km Southeast of Shibetsu
Notsuke Peninsula is a 28km-long, shrimp-shaped sandbank arcing out into the Nemuro Strait. Reaching just a few meters above sea level, much of the landscape is covered with decayed Japanese oaks and Sakhalin firs by the erosion of sea water. On a clear day, the island of Kunashiri-to is visible over the strait.
In summer (mid Jul-mid Aug), the best way to take a cruise is buying the Todowara-go combined ticket (トドワラ号セット券) that sells at the Odaito tourist information center, Shibetsu and Kushiro bus terminals. The Todowara-go runs from Shibetsu to the Notsuke Peninsula Nature Center, then heads to Odaito continue to Hakuchodai (白鳥台). There are no direct buses to Notsuke Peninsula during the off-season.
The busy fishing town Rausu on the Eastern Shiretoko is well-worth visiting for marine life, onsen and seafood lovers. We recommend you to spend two days in the town and enjoy cruising, bathing or trekking.
Rausu Hon-cho (羅臼本町) bus stop is conveniently located behind the michi-no-eki in the town center. Rausu bus station (羅臼営業所) is located in the west side of town center on Route 334.
143km to 175km
Rausu to Utoro
From mid June to early October, buses run from Rausu bus station to Utoro (ウトロ: 4 daily / 50min) pass through Rausu Onsen, the dynamic Shiretoko Pass and Shiretoko Nature Center.
From Utoro, you can catch a regular bus to Shari on the JR Senmo Line or a seasonal bus to Memanbetsu Airport via Abashiri on the JR Sekihoku Line.