Wakkanai, Japan’s northernmost city, is across the Soya Straits from Sakhalin. It is the base for travel to Rishiri and Rebun islands. This Rishiri-Rebun Sarobetsu National Park consists of two islands. Rishiri Island is a round volcanic island and home to Mt. Rishiri. Rebun Island is called the “flower island” because over several hundred species of alpine plants cover it in spring and summer. Sarobetsu Natural Flower Garden gives a beautiful view of wildflower plants in June and July. Sunset on Mt. Rishiri from the Bekkai coast is unforgettable.
Rishiri and Rebun Islands
These two islands are the main attractions of Rishiri Rebun Sarobetsu National Park. Geographically remote and geologically unique, they and are characterized by their unspoiled natural environments, abundance of wild flowers, and their quiet fishing communities. Mt. Rishiri is a 1719-meter dormant volcano. Some beautiful and rare alpine flowers and plants can be found here. It is covered with snow and ice most of the year. Momoiwa is a famous, huge peach-shaped rock on a ridge on Mt. Rebun. It’s 250 meters above sea level, and the cliffs drop steeply from this area to the sea. Lake Himenuma is a marshy pond located in a quiet forested area on Mt. Rishiri. It is the home of crucian carp, and boating is a popular activity in the summer.
The volcanic cone of Mt. Rishiri (elev. 1,718 m) rises from the center of the island, the biggest island in Hokkaido (63 km in circumference). The name “Rishiri” comes from the Ainu “riishiri,” which means an island with a high mountain. Mt. Rishiri is also called “Rishiri-Fuji,” for a shape as lovely as Mt. Fuji’s. Alpine flowers and plants can be found from the hillside to the top. It is also the home of Kuril cherry, which is designated a Natural Treasure of Hokkaido.
The island is blessed with natural richness. Its scenic spots are Himenuma Pond, which reflects the beautiful shape of Rishiri-Fuji, and Otatomari Pond, which is the home of Sakhalin spruce primeval forest and the northern limit. The port terminal is at Kutsugata, the district at the center of Rishiri Town. Ferries sail from here to Rebun Island.
Rebun (Rebunto) Island
Its name comes from the Ainu “rebunge,” which means a place jutting into the sea. Boasting a long history, the island first developed as a fishing spot for the Matsumae Clan’s Soya branch in 1685. The island is 72 km around, but no road circles the entire island. Its western side is still undeveloped. Cape Sukoton, the northernmost cape, is at 45?27′ 45″ N. latitude. To the north is Todo Island.
Rebun Island is known for its sea urchin fishery. The fishing season of Ezo bafun uni (“horse turd” sea urchin) and murasaki uni (“purple” sea urchin) is from June to September.
The island is blessed with natural abundance and unique flora. Rebun lady’s slippers, a pale yellow wild orchid, was designated in 1994 as a Cultural Asset of Hokkaido and a Natural Treasure. The best season to see it is from the end of May to the end of June.
Rishiri: Ferry from Wakkanai (approx. 1hr 40 mins) or airplane from New Chitose Airport (approx. 50 mins)
Rebun: Ferry from Wakkanai (approx. 2 hrs)
Sarobetsu: Approx. 1hr by train or car (Wakkanai highway)
By Plane: 20 min by plane from Wakkanai Airport to Rishiri Airport or 25 min by plane from Wakkanai Airport to Rebun Airport
Cape Soya and Cape Noshappu
A national highway runs around the perimeter of Cape Soya, with its red Hamanasu flowers and Ezo licorice plants. From the hill overlooking the Soya Straits, you can see as far as Sakhalin. This area features the Cape Soya lighthouse and several other historical buildings and sites.
The Noshappu lighthouse stands on the tip of this cape, just to the north of Wakkanai. You can see Sakhalin to the north and the islands of Rebun and Rishiri to the west. This is another good place to catch the sunset.
Hyosetsu-no-Mon (Gate of Ice and Snow) in Wakkanai Park
Teuri and Yagishiri Islands
Teuri Island, Yagishiri Island in Haboro
Rishiri-Rebun-Sarobetsu National Park – Environment, Ranger Office and Visitor Centers
Rebun Island is a longish island, about 10 km north of Rishiri Island and 50 km off the northern tip of Hokkaido. Together with Rishiri Island, Rebun belongs to the Rishiri-Rebun-Sarobetsu National Park.
Rishiri Island (Mt. Rishiri)
Kutsugata, Rishiri Town (Rishiri-cho), Rishiri District (Rishiri-gun), Hokkaido Prefecture 097-0211, Japan
Rebun (Rebunto) Island [Mt. Rebun]
Kafukamura, Rebun, Rebun District, Hokkaido Prefecture 097-1201, Japan
Hokkaido Regional Environment Office Sapporo No.1 Godochosha, North 8 West 2 Kita-ku, Sapporo 060-0808 Tei:011-299-1950 Fax:011-736-1234
E-mail: REO-HOKKAIDO env.go.jp
Wakkanai Ranger Office Wakkanai Regional Joint Government Building, 5-6-1 Suehiro, Wakkanai-shi, Hokkaido 097-8527 Tel: 0162-33-1100
Sarobetsu Visitor Center Kamisarobetsu, Toyotomi-cho, Teshio-gun, Hokkaido, 098-4100
Horonobe Visitor Center Shimonuma, Horonobe-cho, Teshio-gun, Hokkaido, 098-3228
West area (Rishiri Town) Tourist Information Center Rishiri tourist information center is in the Kutsugata ferry terminal. The center is open from May to September. Address: Fujimicho Kutsugata, Rishiri, Rishiri District, Hokkaido Prefecture 097-0401, Japan Tel: 0163-84-2349 Hour: 9:30~16:30
Website: http://town.rishiri.jp/ (Japanese)
Rishiri Town Tourist Association Address: Midoricho Kutsugata, Rishiri Town (Rishiri-cho), Rishiri District (Rishiri-gun), Hokkaido Prefecture 097-0401, Japan Tel: 0163-84-3622 Fax: 0163-84-3365
East area (Rishirifuji Town) Tourist Information Center on Rishiri Island
Rishirifuji Tourist Information center is in the Oshidomari ferry tirminal. The center is open from April 15 to October 15.
Rishirifuji Tourism Organisation Rishirifuji Town Hall Fujino-6 Oshidomari, Rishirifuji Town (Rishirifuji-cho), Rishiri District (Rishiri-gun), Hokkaido Prefecture 097-0101, Japan Tel: 0163-82-1114 (Tourism), 0163-82-1111 (General) Fax: 0163-82-1373 (Tourism), 0163-82-1253 (General)
Rishirifuji Tourism Website: http://www.rishiritou.com/
Rishirifuji Town Website: http://www.town.rishirifuji.hokkaido.jp/
Rishirifuji town tourist office in the Oshidomari Ferry Terminal Minatomachi Oshidomari, Rishirifuji Town (Rishirifuji-cho), Rishiri District (Rishiri-gun), Hokkaido 097-0101, Japan TEL: 0163-82-2201 (tourism), 0163-82-1837 (accommodation)
Ferry For Wakkanai ↔ Rishiri Island/Rebun Island, Esashi/Setana ↔ Okushiri Island and Wakkanai ↔ Sakhalin: http://www.heartlandferry.jp/english/index.html
Rebun (Rebunto) Island Tourist Association Rebun Town Office Address: Tonnai Kafukamura, Rebun Town (Rebun-cho), Rebun District (Rebun-gun), Hokkaido Prefecture 097-1201, Japan Tel: 0163-86-1001 Fax: 0163-86-1515
Rebun Island Tourist Association Website: http://www.rebun-island.jp/en/index.html
Rebun Tour Guide Address: Sukotontomari Funadomarimura, Rebun Town (Rebun-cho), Rebun District (Rebun-gun), Hokkaido 097-1111, Japan Tel/Fax head office: 0163-87-2198 (April to October) Tel (Customer Support): 011-738-6000 Fax (Customer Support): 011-738-7000 Tel (Rebun Tourist Support in New Chitose Airport): 0123-46-2103
Rebun Stroll Guide Website: http://guide.rebun.jp/english/01.html
Rishiri-Rebun-Sarobetsu National Park by Natural Parks Foundation: http://www.bes.or.jp/english/parks/rishiri.html
Rishiri-Rebun-Sarobetsu National Park by Natural Parks in Hokkaido: http://hokkaido.env.go.jp/nature/mat/park/en/rishiri/index.html