Kushiro-Shitsugen National Park – Travel Guide

Planning a trip to Kushiro-Shitsugen National Park? Make sure you first read our guide, packed with tips and advice to make the most of it.

When to go?

Things to do

Accommodation

Access

Map

Kushiro-shitsugen National Park

Photo Credit: Robert Thomson via Flickr cc

The Kushiro-Shitsugen (wetlands) have been considered a national natural monument since 1967, though they were not recognized as an official national park until 1987. 

Located in the east of Hokkaido, the park consists of Kushiro city, Kushiro town, Shibeca town and Tsurui village. At 18,290 hectares, it’s the largest wetland park in Japan, drawing in half a million visitors each year.

Rich in biodiversity, Kushiro-Shitsugen National Park is home to over 600 species of plants and animals, including the endangered Danube salmon and Blakiston’s fish owl. However, its most famous inhabitant, the Japanese crane (also known as the Red-crowned crane or Tancho), is the main attraction.

When to go?

Yearly Weather Forecast of Kushiro-Shitsugen National Park
  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun July Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Average (°F)  21.0 21.2 28.9 38.1 46.2 52.5 59.5 64.0 15.4 49.6 38.7 28.4
Highest (°F) 30.0 30.0 36.0 45.5 53.8 59.2 65.7 70.3 66.4 58.1 46.9 36.5
Lowest (°F) 10.2 11.1 21.2 31.6 39.7 47.1 54.9 59.0 52.3 40.1 29.3 19.2
Rainfall Days 6 7 10 11 10 12 11 8 11 9 7 6
Precipitation (mm)  43 23 58 76 112 108 128 131 156 95 64 51

With little snowfall, water-resistant clothing is not necessary but may be useful all the same.

Kushiro-Shitsugen National Park is open all year, although some of its attractions do close in the winter. Generally, this is from the end of December to the start of the new year, so plan accordingly.

Another thing to consider when planning a trip to Kushiro-Shitsugen National Park is that Akan National Park is just a few hours away, so combining the two is is entirely possible. 

Things to do

1. Sightseeing and Japanese Cranes

Japanese cranes

Photo Credit: Martha de Jong-Lantink via Flickr cc

Dancing Japanese Cranes

Half a million visitors come to Kushiro-Shitsugen National Park for its unique attractions such as the vast wetlands and the endangered Japanese cranes found nowhere else in Japan. These cranes can be seen at the feeding grounds during winter or throughout the wetlands during summer. 

There are a plethora of things to do and see at the park – take a look at some of the best:

Recommendations:

Kushiro City Marsh Observatory (釧路市湿原展望台)

Despite being the only viewpoint that asks for a fee (470 yen), its spectacular views of the western marsh are well-worth it. 

Hours: Mar 1-Oct 31 8:30 am-6:00 pm/ Nov 1-Apr 30 9:00 am-5:00 pm

Closed: Dec 31-Jan 3

Address: 6-11, Hokuto, Kushiro, Kushiro, Hokkaido 084-0922

 

Hokuto Viewpoint (北斗展望地)

Minutes away from Kushiro City Marsh Observatory, Hokuto Viewpoint boasts an unobstructed panoramic view of the park. 

Hours: 24/7, open 24 hours every day

Closed: No closing days

Address: Hokuto, Kushiro, Kushiro, Hokkaido 0840-0922

 

Hosooka Viewpoint (細岡湿原展望台)

Hosooka

Photo Credit: Hajime NAKANO via Flickr cc

East of the marsh, this famous viewpoint allows visitors to admire Mount Oakan, Mount Meakan and Kushiro River from afar. This viewpoint is also popular for watching the sunset.

Hours: Apr-May 9:00 am-5:00 pm/Jun-Sep 9:00 am-6:00 pm/Oct-Nov 9:00 am-4:00 pm/Dec-Mar 10:00 am-4:00 pm

Closed: Dec 31-Jan 5

Address: 22-9 Tatsukobu, Kushiro, Kushiro, Hokkaido 088-2141

 

Hosooka Canoe Port

As the name suggests, canoe tours are available here.

Hours: 24/7, open 24 hours every day

Closed: No closing days

Address: 65-2 Tatsukobu, Kushiro, Kushiro, Hokkaido 088-2141

 

Sarubo Viewpoint (サルボ展望台)

Located on a hill, Sarubo Viewpoint boasts a stunning panoramic view of Lake Toro. 

Hours: 24/7, open 24 hours every day

Closed: No closing days

Address: 4-11 Toro, Shibecha, Kawakami, Hokkaido 088-2261

 

Lake Takkobu (達古武沼)

10 minutes away from Hosooka Station, Lake Takkobu has a 2.3km boardwalk alongside it. In addition to the wooden path, there’s Yumegaoka viewpoint which commands amazing views of the lake. Lake Takkobu is also great fun during the summer because you can rent canoes and camp here.

Address: Lake Takkobu, Tatsukobu, Kushiro, Kushiro, Hokkaido 088-2141

 

Kottaro Marsh Viewpoints (コッタロ展望台)

Kottaro Marsh Viewpoints

Photo Credit: double-h_by_phone via Flickr cc

Separate from the Kushiro wetlands, Kottaro Marsh Viewpoints consists of 3 seperate viewpoints. Away from the crowds, these little-known viewpoints command amazing views of the marsh.

Hours: 24/7, open 24 hours every day

Closed: No closing days

Address: 1-1 Kottaro, Shibecha, Kawakami, Hokkaido 085-1388

 

Onnenai Boardwalk

The Onnenai Boardwalk starts at the Onnenai Visitor Center. From there, you can access several paths – ranging from 500m to 3,000m in height. Surrounded by wetlands on either side, these paths are extraordinary. 

Hours: 24/7, open 24 hours every day

Closed: No closing days

Address: Onnenai, Tsurui, Akan, Hokkaido 085-1145

 

Onnenai Visitor Center (温根内ビジターセンター)

In addition to marking the start of the Onnenai Boardwalk, this visitor center provides a lot of information about the wetlands to visitors.

Hours: Apr-Oct 10:00 am-5:00 pm/Nov-Mar 10:00 am-4:00 pm

Closed: Tuesday/Dec 29-Jan 3

Address: Onnenai, Tsurui, Akan, Hokkaido 085-1145

 

Kayanuma Station

Kayanuma Station boasts fantastic views of Lake Shirarutoro and is a popular feeding ground for Japanese cranes during the winter.

Address: Kottarogenya Kita 17 Sen, Shibecha, Kawakami, Hokkaido 088-2266

 

Otowa Bridge (音羽橋)

During the winter, Japanese cranes can be seen here resting in the dawn onwards. 

Address: Shimosetsuri, Akan, Tsurui, Hokkaido 085-1211

 

Tsuruimidai (鶴見台)

Tsuruimidai

Photo Credit: | Ray Chang | via Flickr cc

From late December to January, huge flocks of Japanese cranes congregate at this feeding ground.

Address: Shimosetsuri, Akan, Tsurui, Hokkaido 085-1211

 

Tsurui Ito Tancho Sanctuary (鶴居・伊藤タンチョウサンクチュアリ)

Expect to see more than 300 Japanese cranes at this major feeding ground in the winter!

Hours: 9:00 am-4:30 pm

Open: Oct-Mar

Closed: Tuesday/Wednesday/Dec 26-30/Apr-Sep

Address: Aza Nakasetsuri Minami, Akan, Tsurui, Hokkaido 085-1205

 

Akan International Crane Center (釧路市阿寒国際ツルセンター)

Akan International Crane Center is a Japanese crane sanctuary where they breed and feed the cranes. You are also guaranteed to see the cranes at any time of the year. 

Hours: 9:00 am-5:00 pm

Closed: No closing days

Admission: 470 yen

Address: 23-40 Kamiakan Akancho, Kushiro, Hokkaido 085-0245

 

2. Tours

Photo Credit: 梨本裕 [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Kushiro River

Too much of a hassle to plan your own trip? Lake Akan Tsuruga Wings provides a seasonal (Apr 23-Nov 6) sightseeing bus. In addition to Kushiro, this bus also visits Mount Io and Lake Akan.

TORO Nature Center also provides a myriad of seasonal tours – ranging from canoeing to snowshoe tour.

 

3. Horse Riding

Provided by Foursquare

Tsurui Dosanko Farm

Hokkaido, famed for its horses, is a popular destination for horse riding. With their calm temperament, anyone can ride these horses, experienced or not.

Recommendations: 

Tsurui Dosanko Farm (鶴居どさんこ牧場)

Address: 71-1 Kuchoro, Tsurui, Akan, Hokkaido 085-1362

Website: http://dosanko-farm.com/

 

Kushiro Fureai Horse Park (ふれあいホースパーク)

Address: 10-1 Yamahana, Kushiro, Hokkaido 084-0928

Website: http://www.refre-yamahana.jp/horsepark/horsepark.html

 

4. Onsens

Provided by Foursquare

Kayanuma Onsen

Recommendations: 

Kayanuma Onsen (憩の家かや沼)

After exploring the park, stop by Kayanuma Onsen to relieve those aching muscles of yours.

Hours: Sun, Tue, Thu & Sat 9:30 am-11:00 pm/Mon, Wed & Fri 11:00 am-11:00 pm

Closed: No closing days

Address: Kayanuma, Shibecha, Kamikawa, Hokkaido 088-2266

 

Yamahana Onsen Refre (山花温泉リフレ)

Yamahana Onsen Refre belongs to a ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) and is the perfect rejuvenating pitstop after a trip to the nearby Kushiro City Zoo.

Hours: Oct-Jun 10:00 am-10:00pm/Jul-Sep 10:00 am-11:00 pm

Closed: No closing days

Address: 14-131 Yamahana, Kushiro, Hokkaido 084-0924

 

5. Kushiro City Zoo (釧路市動物園)

Kushiro Zoo

Photo Credit: pelican via Flickr cc

Had enough of Japanese cranes? Kushiro City Zoo is your chance to broaden your horizons a little. 

Hours: Apr 10-Sports Day 9:30 am-4:30 pm/Sports Day-Apr 9 10:00 am-3:30 pm

Closed: Wed (Dec-Feb)/Dec 29-Jan 2

Address: 11 Akancho Shimoninishibetsu, Kushiro, Hokkaido 085-0204

 

6. Kushiro Fog Festival (くしろ霧フェスティバル)

Kushiro Fog Festival, a spectacular laser and sound show is held at the end of July every year. This show can be seen from Saiwaicho Event Square in front of the Kushiro Tourism & International Relations Center (釧路市観光国際交流センター).

Address: 3-3 Saiwaicho, Monbetsu, Hokkaido 094-0005

Accommodation

Takkobu Auto Camp Site (達古武沼キャンプ場)

Photo Credit: コムケ [GFDL or CC BY-SA 1.0], via Wikipedia

Lake Takkobu

One of many campsites at Kushiro-Shitsugen National Park, Takkobu auto camp site provides easy access to Lake Takkobu and includes facilities for tents and RVs both.

Open: May 1-Oct 31

Address: 65-2 Takkobu, Kushiro, Kushiro, Hokkaido

 

Kushiro-Shitsugen Toro Youth Hostel (釧路湿原とうろユースホステル)

Photo Credit: Soica2001 [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

For budget travelers, Kushiro-Shitsugen Toro Youth Hostel is only about 4000 yen a night. It’s also conveniently located within walking distance of Lake Toro and Sarubo Viewpoint.

Address: 7 Toro, Shibecha, Kawakami, Hokkaido 088-2261

 

Ikoi-No-Ie Kayanuma (憩の家かや沼)

Provided by Foursquare

Not only does Ikoi-No-Ie Kayanuma include Kayanuma Onsen, it’s also a ryokan. Immerse yourself in Japanese culture here!

Address: Kayanuma, Shibecha, Kamikawa, Hokkaido 088-2266

 

Hotel Taito

Provided by Foursquare

Established in 1916, Hotel Taito is conveniently located near numerous attractions such as the Kottaro Marsh Viewpoints. This hotel also includes an onsen with water of a whopping pH of 9! Be careful not to get it in your eyes and hair.

Address: 1-5 Tsuruinishi, Tsurui, Akan, Hokkaido 085-1203

 

Kushiro Century Castle Hotel (釧路センチュリーキャッスルホテル)

Located along Kushiro River, Kushiro Century Castle Hotel is for travelers who are looking for luxury. A night at this modern hotel costs somewhere between 25,000 and 40,000 yen – depending on the type of room.

Address: 2-5 Okawacho, Kushiro, Hokkaido 085-0837

 

Kushiro Prince Hotel (釧路プリンスホテル)

Provided by Foursquare

Although away from the attractions, Kushiro Prince Hotel’s incredible service and luxurious accommodation make this a popular hotel for high-end travelers.

Address: 7-1 Saiwaicho, Kushiro, Hokkaido 085-8581                  

Access

Here is a detailed map of the area.

Kushiro is the closest airport to Kushiro-Shitsugen National Park which can be flown to from Haneda, Tokyo and Shin-Chitose, Sapporo. The Akan Bus service can take you from the airport to Kushiro city center.

In addition to flying, you can get to Kushiro from Sapporo by train via the JR Super Ozora Limited Express.

The Akan Bus service helps visitors get around the park. With infrequent stops, plan accordingly or alternatively, rent a car.

Map

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# Things to Do in Hokkaido # Things to Do in Japan

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