The easternmost tip of Hokkaido, Shiretoko Peninsula projects into the Sea of Okhotsk. In 2005, it was officially designated and registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site (Natural Site). This peninsula with its marine area is the world’s southernmost place where drift ice generally forms. Foods including plankton carried by the drift ice become the diet of earless seals, various sea birds, and sea eagles (oowashi). At the same time, salmon swimming upstream in Shiretoko waterways become the food of brown bears (higuma) and white-tailed eagles (oojiro-washi), and the remains ultimately return to the soil of Shiretoko. This life cycle involving both sea and land creatures is the important reason why Shiretoko was chosen as a world natural heritage site.
If you’re interested in observing the untouched natural environment of Shiretoko Peninsula, please join a cruising tour. You can glimpse hidden scenic points such as spectacular waterfalls and rugged rocks that you would never see on inland routes. Since wild brown bears often appear in Rusha Bay during the summer, you may be fortunate to spot mothers and their cubs. Some Rausu Bay cruises even provide tours for watching wild dolphins, whales, killer whales, etc. Shiretoko is famous for its flora and fauna, including some endangered and scarce species. If you visit, you may witness living representatives of unknown natural lives.
If you want to experience the wild habitat of Shiretoko at closer range, be sure to visit Shiretoko Goko (Shiretoko Five Lakes). Located in a primeval forest at the base of Mount Rausu (Rausudake) and Mount Io (Shiretoko Iozan), these peripheral lake areas are connected by a network of boardwalks about 3 kilometers long. You may spot many small creatures like ezo-risu (Hokkaido squirrels) and akagera (great spotted woodpeckers) that symbolize the natural life of Hokkaido, as well as brown bear and ezo-jika (Hokkaido deer). Please note that you must be aware of the strict regulations of this nature preserve, and comply with these rules.Before starting hiking, you need to formally reserve a guide who escorts your group at periods when brown bears are active and for entrance to this area during times of vegetation conservation activity.
The town of Utoro located in the western part of Shiretoko Peninsula is known for its hot spring spa and fishery industry. It is also the central base for various cruising services while also providing various nature tours including trekking guidance, drift ice watching, etc. If you want to enjoy the essence of the Shiretoko experience, reserve convenient accommodation in Utoro Onsen (Utoro Hot Spring). Near the bay area, there are also a number of Japanese restaurants serving fishery delicacies where even local chefs frequently come to enjoy their meals.
Shiretoko National Park
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