Shiretoko Peninsula – The World Natural Heritage

Roads extend only halfway up the Shiretoko Peninsula’s 63-km length. The peninsula, which juts into the Sea of Okhotsk, boasts an untouched natural environment from its midpoint to its end at Cape Shiretoko. Located in the Kuril Volcanic Zone, the Shiretoko Mountains include Mt. Rausu, Mt. Iou and Mt. Shiretoko. Shiretoko features a dynamic landscape where oceans lap at the foot of mountains.

At western foot of the Shiretoko Mountains lie the “Shiretoko Five Lakes,” which are surrounded by primeval forests. These are small lakes that have remained on the lava plateau. The first to the fifth lakes lie along a 3-km promenade. It takes approximately one hour to visit these five lakes on foot. The largest is the second lake. At the third lake, colonies of skunk cabbages bloom in May. This area is inhabited by numerous wild animals, and entry is sometimes prohibited due to appearances of bears.

Figure: A bird’s eye view of Shiretoko national park (left), Cliff in Iwaobetsu reflecting the sunset (middle) and Shiretoko Range running straight in the Peninsula – View from the ridge near Mt. lou (right)

A trip toward the tip of the peninsula from the Five Lakes brings you to Kamuiwakka Falls. This is a natural phenomenon whereby the hot spring river that flows from Mt. Iou, an active volcano in the Shiretoko Mountains, cascades 133 m. The pool below the falls serves as a bathtub. All that is here is the natural open-air bath. Usually, entry is permitted only during daytime from June to late October.

The numerous waterfalls on the Shiretoko Peninsula include Oshinkoshin Falls, which are on National Route 334 and are said to be the easiest to observe. This cascade was once selected as one of Japan’s “Top 100 Falls.” Dynamic sprays of water cascade 80 m in two streams, earning the falls the appellation of “lovely pair of falls.” Although it is normal to look up the falls from the bottom, there is an old national highway at the top from which a stately view is popular.

Shiretoko has its origin in an Ainu word sir-etok, which means “the end (etok) of the Earth (sir)” or a promontory. In the land still abundant in primeval Nature, brown bear and Blakiston’s fish owl called kamuy (god) by the Ainu people live. The Sea of Fertility, owing to drift ice, is brought further to seas, rivers and forests. In summer 2005, Shiretoko was registered as a World Natural Heritage site for its irreplaceable wildlife habitats and biodiversity. Shiretoko is a long narrow peninsula located in northeastern Hokkaido. The volcanic Shiretoko mountain range runs down the center of the peninsula and includes the highest peak of the range, Rausu-dake (1,661 m above sea level) and the active volcano Iouyama. The Sea of Okhotsk lies on the western side of the range and the Nemuro Straits on the eastern side. The coastline cliffs facing the Sea of Okhotsk rise up more than 100 m high, and you can glimpse waterfalls large and small cascading directly into the sea, and colonies of seabirds.

When you cycle 40k along the road on the edge of the peninsula until you reach the little port of Utoro, mountains on your right, the blue sea on your left. From Utoro up, it becomes the kingdom of the deer and the bear and the fox. All that remains is a one youth hostel and a hotel. The road only continues about another 20k. After that the only way to travel is to cross the rope-bridge, take your chances with the bears, climb high and walk the one trail down the centre of the ridge.

The sheer untouched remoteness of this peninsula is especially unique in the Japan of Alex Kerr. No pork-barrel concrete, no dammed rivers, no human habitation, no tourist tackiness or amazing, record-breaking, plastic attractions. Just green. And the deers and the bears and the foxes. And silence. A credit to the local grassroots movements who fought and stopped the machine of “progress.” And a truly entrancing place.

Figure: Shiretoko-goko Lakes in late autumn & Mt. Rausu having its first snowfall (left), Kashuni Waterfall plunging into the sea (middle) and Drift ice covering a great extent of the seas (right)


The pristine forests of Shiretoko World Natural Heritage

Essential Shiretoko Contact Information:

Shiretoko Nature Foundation (Shiretoko National Park Nature Center)

Shiretoko Nature Foundation is a locally based non profit organization and has been dedicated to conserve wild flora and fauna and to promote adequate utilization of the Shiretoko National Park since 1998. Shiretoko National Park Nature Center is located at the entrance of the Shiretoko National Park, Hokkaido, Japan. It not only serves as an information center for the park visitors but also facilitates your enjoyable stay in Shiretoko. The greatest feature is Dynavision theater projected on a huge screen of 12 m in length and 20 m in width. The impressive video with a lot of bird’s-eye images shows the true Shiretoko inaccessible to humans. You’ll feel like a bird flying over the Peninsula. An information counter managed by the Shiretoko Nature Foundation provides information on Nature observation and climbing. The Center also has a restaurant that serves snacks and a store. Address: Iwaubetsu-531 Onnebetsumura, Shari Town (Shari-cho), Shari District (Shari-gun), Okhotsk Subprefecture, Hokkaido Prefecture 099-4356, Japan Tel: +81-152-24-2114

E-mail: i…

Open hours: 8:00-17:40 (9:00-16:00 from Oct. 21st to Apr. 19th) Closed on: Dec. 31st Admission: Free of charge (Dynavision theater: adult: ¥500; child: ¥200)¥500; child: ¥200)


Rausu visitor center

Guide to the nature of Shiretoko..To enjoy nature, a creativity and a knowledge are necessary. A visitor center is facilities that do for an assistance for that reason mind. Inside building and, show a multi-slide at any time natural display explanation of Shiretoko. As a facility under Ministry of the Environment, remodeled and reopened in May 2007, the Center provides information on the Rausu side of Shiretoko and is engaged in the activities of Nature conservation. As a multipurpose facility, it also has a general services counter and a lecture room.

Shiretoko national park rausu visitor center 6-27 Yunosawacho, Rausu Town (Rausu-cho), Menashi District, Hokkaido Prefecture 086-1822, Japan Tel: (0153)87-2828 Open: 9:00-17:00(on October since May), 10:00-16:00(on April since November) Close: Monday Admission: Free of charge


Office of Nature Conservation Beauro of Rausu Town (Rausu-cho) 388 Yunosawacho, Rausu Town (Rausu-cho), Menashi District, Hokkaido Prefecture 086-1822, Japan Tel: 0153-87-2402 Fax: 0153-87-2468

Shiretoko national park website:

Shiretoko Museum

Situated at the center of Shari town, the Museum exhibits abundant material on the history and natural environment of Shari town as well as the Shiretoko Peninsula. Especially, there are many exhibits showing wild plants and animals such as seals and eagles and a great variety of stuffed specimens. Address: 49-2 Honmachi. Shari-cho, Shari-gun Hokkaido Phone: 0152-23-1256 Open hours: 9:00-17:00 Closed on: Mondays from Apr. to Oct. (open on holidays); Mondays, holidays & year-end and New Year holidays from Nov. to Mar.

Admission: ¥300; elementary school & junior high school students: free of charge

Shiretoko World Heritage Center

Since Shiretoko was registered as a World Natural Heritage site, this Center was designed as an information center scheduled to be completed in 2009, in Utoro, Shari town, base for Shiretoko tourism. As a gateway to the World Heritage site, it will provide information on its advantages and rules for visiting it.

On the other hand, Rusa Field House is to be constructed in Rusa, Rausu town, to offer lectures on rules for visiting the World Heritage site and to provide real-time information as to the tip of the Peninsula in an effort to prevent accidents and protect the environment. The House is also planned to be a facility for education in marine and terrestrial ecosystems and the precious Nature of Shiretoko.

Utoro Ranger Office for Nature Conservation

Utoro is a Fishing port and Hot Spring tourist resort in Shiretoko Peninsula National Park), Shari town (Shari-cho) Utorohigashi, Shari-cho, Shari-gun, Hokkaido, JAPAN 099-4355 Phone: 0152-24-2297

Fax: 0152-24-3646

Rausu Ranger Office for Nature Conservation

Yunosawacho, Rausu-cho, Menashi-gun, Hokkaido, JAPAN 086-1822 Phone: 0153-87-2402

Fax: 0153-87-2468

Shiretoko Rausu Town (Rausu-cho) Tourist Association

361-1 Honcho, Rausu-cho, Menashi District (Menashi-gun), Hokkaido 086-1833 Japan Tel: 0153-87-3360


    • Shiretoko Shari Town Tourist Association: Tel. 0l52-22-2125
    • Shiretoko Shari Tourist Information Center: Tel. 052-23-2424
    • Shiretoko Utoro Tourist Information (in Road Station Utoro-Shirietoku): Tel. 0152-24-2639
    • Road Station Shari: Tel. 0152-26-8888
    • Road Station Utoro-Shirietoku: Tel. 0152-22-5000
    • Shari Alpine Club (Shari town Hall): Tel. 0152-23-3131
    • Shiretoko – Shari town (Shari-cho) Tourist Agency: Tel. 01522-4-2639
    • Drift Ice Nature Park at Utoro Hot Spring, Shari town (Shari-cho): Tel. 0152-23-3131
    • Shiretoko Forest Center, Shari Town: Tel. 0152-23-3009
    • Shiretoko Rausu Town Tourist Association: Tel. 53-87-3360
    • Rausu Town Tourist Information Center (in Road Station Shiretoko Rausu): Tel. 0153-87-3330
    • Road Station Shiretoko Rausu: Tel. 0153-87-5151
    • Kinoshita Hut (Rausu Trailhead): Tel. 0152-24-2824
    • Rausu Town Folk Museum, Rausu Town: Tel. 0153-87-2004
    • Okhotsk Region Tourist Union: Tel. 0152-45-1885
    • Nemuro Tourist Union: Tel. 0153-29-2427
  • 15-minute walk from the center of Utoro town, it is situated on a plateau called Yuhidai, dotted with big trees whose leafy shade is pleasant. If it is fine, the sun setting in the Sea of Okhotsk is beautiful. Address: Utoro, Shari-cho, Shari-gun Hokkaido Phone: 0152-24-2722 (closing period: 0152-62-2211) Open: lun. 20th to Sep. 10th

    Camping charge: adult: ¥320; child: ¥200 for one night

    Rausu-onsen Campsite

    It is a Campsite in a torest, 3 km along the Shiretoko Crossing Road trom Rausu toward Shiretoko Pass. Across the road, there is the Kumanoyu Hot Spring (open-air) that is available free of charge, and the Campsite is popular and is crowded during peak season. It is also near the starting point of a trail of Mt. Rausu and a geyser. Maintained by local volunteers, Kumanoyu Hot Spring is a place where local people can relax. Make sure to follow the rules when you bathe. Address: Yunosawacho Rau mho Menashi-guti, Hokkaido Phone: 0153-87-2126 (Environmental Management Division, Rausu Town Hall) Open: Jun. 1st to Oct. 31st

    Camping charge: ¥300; pre-school child: free of charge

    Rausu Town Rinkan Hiroba Campsite

    It is a quiet Campsite in a forest far ahead of the ex-Rausu Municipal Ski Course. Maintaining natural geographical features, it is relaxing and not crowded in peak season. Follow the ascent further, and you’ll find an observatory that commands a panorama of the central area of Rausu town, the Nemuro Strait and Kunashiri Island. Address: 31-1 Rebuncho,Rausu-cho,Menashi-gun, Hokkaido Phone: 0153-87-2126 {Environmental Management Division, Rausu Town Hall) Open: Jun. 1st to Oct. 31st

    Camping charge: ¥300 for one night; pre-school child: free of charge

  • To go to Utoro in Shiretoko National Park, use a car or ride on a bus from Shiretoko-Shari Station on JR Senmo Line. To go to Rausu at the Nemuro side, a car is commonly used. In the case of air travel, Utoro is accessible from Memanbetsu Airport, while Rausu is accessible from Nakashibetsu Airport.

    Figure: Schematic diagram of the access to the Shiretoko National Park

    Air Travel (Memanbetsu Airport, Nakashlbetsu Airport)

    • JAL (Japan Airlines): Tel. 0120-25-5971, For Mobile Phones. 0570-025-071,
    • ANA (All Nippon Airways): Tel. 0120-029-222, For Mobile Phones. 0570-029-222,
    • AIR DO (Hokkaido International Airlines): 0120-057-333, For Mobile Phones. 0120-057-333,
    • Memanbetsu Airport (AIR DO) Tel: 01527-4-4619
    • Memanbetsu Airport (ANA) Tel: 01527-4-4617
    • Memanbetsu Airport (JAL) Tel: 01527-4-2021


    • Shari Bus Co., Ltd. at Shari town (Shari-cho): Tel. 0152-23-3145, 152-24-2230, Main Office 0152-23-2451
    • Shari Bus, Utoro Terminal: Tel. 0152-24-2054
    • Abashiri Bus, Abashiri Office: Tel. 0152-43-4101
    • Akan Bus, Rausu Town (Rausu-Cho) Office: Tel. 0153-87-2046
    • Akan Bus, Nakashibetsu Office: Tel. 0153-73-4370
    • Akan bus at Kushiro City (Kushiro-shi): Tel. 0154-37-2221

    Trains (Stations)

    • JR Shiretoko Shari town (Shari-cho) Train Station: Tel. 0152-23-2634
    • JR Abashiri Train Station: Tel. 0152-43-2362

    Car and Taxi Rental:

    • Taxi Shari Town: Tel. 0152-23-2100
    • Shiretoko Hire (Shari Town): Tel. 0152-23-2010
    • Taxi Utoro Tourist Hire (Shari Town): Tel. 0152-24-2121
    • Taxi Rausu Tourist Hire (Rausu Town) 0153-87-2002
    • Memanbetsu Airport Tourist Information Center: Tel. 0152-74-4182
    • Nakashibetsu Airtport Tourist Information Center: Tel. 0153-72-3190
    • Shiretoko Shari Tourist Information Center: Tel. 0152-23-2424
    • Abashiri Station Tourist Information Center: Tel. 0152-43-4261
    • TOYOTA Rent at Kushiro City (Kushiro-shi): Tel. 0152-23-0100
    • Shari Ekimae Car Rental: Tel. 0152-23-1090
  • Marumi Co. Ltd. 24 Yagihamacho, Rausu-cho, Menashi-gun, Hokkaido 086-1841, Japan Tel: 0153-88-1313


    Hanamasu Tourism Ltd. 15 Rebuncho, Rausu, Menashi District, Hokkaido Prefecture 086-1834, Japan Tel: 0153-87-3830, 090-4876-6132


    Shiretoko Nature Cruise Ltd. 27-1 Honcho, Rausu, Menashi District, Hokkaido Prefecture 086-1833, Japan Tel: 0153-87-4001 Fax: 0153-87-4002


    Tomoe Two 21 Matsunoricho, Rausu-cho, Menashi-gun, Hokkaido 086-1835, Japan Tel: 0153-88-2026 Fax: 0153-88-2112


    Maruha Horai Suisan Gojira Iwa Tourism (Maruha-Houraisuisan & Gojiraiwa-Kankou) Utorohigashi, Shari, Shari District, Hokkaido Prefecture 099-4355, Japan Tel: 0152-24-3060, 0153-85-7575, 0153-89-2036 Fax: 0152-24-3061, 0153-85-7576, 0153-89-2077



  • Shari Town Hall (Information Desk): Tel. 0152-23-3131
  • Shari Town Hall, Utoro Office: Tel. 0152-24-2200
  • Rausu Town Hall (Information Desk): Tel. 0153-87-2111
  • Shari Police Station (Information Desk): Tel. 01 52-23-0110
  • Shari Police Station, Utoro Substation: Tel. 01 52-24-2010
  • Shari Fire Station (Information Desk): Tel. 0152-23-2435
  • Shari Area Fire Union, Utoro Substation (Information Desk): Tel. 0152-24-2110
  • Nakashibetsu Police Station, Rausu: Tel. 0153-87-21 51
  • Rausu Fire Station: Tel. 0153-87-2119
  • Shari National Health Insurance Hospital (Information Desk): Tel. 0152-23-2102
  • Hokkaido Utoro Clinic: Tel. 0152-24-2052
  • Rausu National Health Insurance Hospital (Information Desk): Tel. 0153-87-2116
  • Rausu Town (Rausu-Cho) Government Office (Commerce, Fisheries And Tourism Division, Rausu Town Hall) 100-83 Sakaecho, Rausu Town (Rausu-cho), Menashi District, Hokkaido Prefecture 086-1823, Japan Tel: 0153-87-2111, 0153-87-2128