Japan's Far East 8 Day Wildlife & Adventure TourMulti-day Guided Hiking, Canoeing & Wildlife Tour in Eastern Hokkaido
An intrepid journey covering three National Parks in Eastern Hokkaido. Experience the best of our outdoors, wildlife & culture on this multi-day guided hiking, canoeing & wildlife tour.
Tour Duration8 Days
Minimum Travellers4 People
Tour StartsKushiro, Hokkaido
Included Meals7 Breakfasts
Tour FinishesKushiro, Hokkaido
- Explore deep into Japan’s Far East region, home to three national parks: Kushiro Shitsugen Wetland, Lakes Akan & Mashu, and Shiretoko Peninsula.
- Wildlife cruises with a chance to sight Ezo brown bear & marine birds & mammals off the Rausu coast
- Canoeing around Kushiro to observe volcanic hot spots & unique wetland ecosystems up close
- Meet and share meals with local fishermen, nature guides & conservation activists
About Japan’s Far East
Hokkaido’s far east region is often described as the last unexplored frontier of Japan. The area is an ideal place to get in touch with mother nature and observe the flora and fauna which are unique to Hokkaido.
On this tour we travel through a trio of National Parks that stand in eastern Hokkaido:, Kushiro Shitsugen Wetland, Lakes Akan & Mashu and Shiretoko Peninsula, the latter is also designated as a Natural World Heritage Area by UNESCO.
During the journey we will also introduce you to local treasures, including the cuisine enjoyed by local fishermen and the people who devote their lives to conserving the wetland and its inhabitants. Come join us on this tour to meet the wildlife and the charms of people who live in harmony with nature.
Who is this tour for?
- Active travellers who love cultural exploration, water activity & wildlife encounters
- Adventurous travellers who enjoy staying in off the beaten track accommodation with rural hospitality
Japan’s Far East Wildlife & Adventure Tour Itinerary at a Glance
*B: Breakfast D: Dinner
Day 1 Meet your group in Kushiro City (D)
Day 2 Guided canoeing on Lake Kussharo & the Kushiro River (B, L, D)
Day 3 Walk to Mt Iouzan & transfer to Utoro Shiretoko (B, L, D)
Day 4 Walk to Shiretoko Five Lakes & brown bear cruise in Rausu (B, L, D)
Day 5 Marine birds & mammal watching cruise in Rausu (B, D)
Day 6 Transfer to Yoroushi Onsen & hike to Mt Moanyama (B, D)
Day 7 Seafood lunch & guided canoeing in Kiritappu Wetland (B, L, D)
Day 8 Transfer to Kushiro & farewells (B)
Tour InclusionsItems that are included in the cost of tour price.
- 7 nights accommodation on a twin share basis
- 7 breakfasts, 4 lunches and 7 dinners
- Guided canoeing tour on Lake Kussharo & the Kushiro River
- Brown bear watching boat cruise in Rausu
- Marine bird & mammal watching cruise in Rausu
- Admission to Shiretoko Five Lakes
- Guided canoeing tour on the Kiritappu Wetland
- All transport as described in the itinerary
- English speaking local guide(s)
Not includedItems that are not included in the cost of tour price.
- Personal expenses
- Drinks with included meals
Meet your group in Kushiro City
We’ll meet between 1:00 pm and 2:00 pm in Kushiro City. Your pickup can be arranged from the airport at around 1:00 pm or from the railway station at around 1:30 pm. Once everyone joins the group in Kushiro, we’ll spend some time getting to know each other and the programme for our upcoming adventure, before we set off for a short hike on the Kushiro Wetland walkway.
Registered as a Ramsar site (a wetland of international importance), Kushiro Shitsugen Wetland is the largest wetland remaining in Japan today, with an area of 22,070 ha (54,500 acres), bigger than the size of our capital Tokyo! After we enjoy taking in the views of the vast wetland, we’ll travel by van for half an hour to Tsurui Village, where we spend our first night. (D)
Activity – Walking
Distance – 2.5km/1.6miles
Estimated duration – 1.5 hours
Guided canoeing on Lake Kussharo & the Kushiro River
We will be exploring in our canoes all day today, on Lake Kussharo in the morning and onto the Kushiro River in the afternoon. We will get started at the foot of Wakoto Hanto, a small peninsula that was once an island floating in the lake.
It is easy to imagine the Wakoto Peninsula being formed by volcanic activity, as we explore the peninsula in our canoes we will witness steam vents and hot springs surging from the ground on the shore. Our lunch will be set up once we land near ”Oyakotsu Jigoku”, where we will enjoy vegetables and eggs cooked in geothermal steam!
After we enjoy lunch and a foot spa, we will head for the start of the Kushiro River, the water source which feeds Kushiro Shitsugen Wetland. We will enjoy a leisurely canoe downstream on the pristine water until we reach the Biruwa Bridge, where we bid farewell to the canoes and transfer by van to Kawayu Onsen. (B, L, D)
Activity – Canoeing
Estimated duration – 5 hours
Walk to Mt Iouzan & transfer to Utoro Shiretoko
This morning, we’ll start off exploring the village of Kawayu on foot from our accommodation. As its name indicates (in Japanese kawa means river & yu means hot water), there is a hot water river that runs through the village centre. We’ll hike to Mt Iouzan volcano, the source of these thermal springs, for a leisurely walk on an easy trail which extends 2.5 km/1.6 miles from Kawayu village.
Hokkaido’s indigenous Ainu people named this mountain, ”Atosanupuri” meaning the naked mountain due to no vegetation growing on it. It is a young active volcano with steam constantly discharging from its fumaroles, which provide spectacular views.
We’ll return on the same trail back to our vehicle in Kawayu Onsen, and drive northeast for 1.5 hours to Shiretoko, which in the Ainu language means ”the land’s end”. We call into the Shiretoko World Heritage Centre in Utoro before settling into our accommodation. (B, L, D)
Activity – Walking
Distance – 4.5km/2.8miles
Estimated duration – 2 hours
Walk to Shiretoko Five Lakes & Brown bear cruise in Rausu
Surrounded by the Sea of Okhotsk, most of the Shiretoko Peninsula has been preserved as a National Park since 1964 and was also designated as a World Natural Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2005.
Approximately 7,000 people live on this Peninsula, but their homes are concentrated in two towns: Utoro on the northern side, and Rausu on the southern side. The rest of the peninsula remains untouched as a habitat for wildlife, such as brown bears, sika deers, red foxes, squirrels, and needless to say, marine and bird life are also rich in diversity.
This morning, we explore Shiretoko on land, hiking to Shiretoko Five Lakes. We will receive a mini lecture before heading into the territory of Ezo brown bears. We aim to complete the entire walkway to visit all the Five Lakes, unless the walkway is closed due to the presence of a bear on the trail.
In the afternoon, we cross over the Shiretoko Pass to Rausu, a thriving fishing village. We’ll board on a local fisherman’s boat for 2.5 hours to explore the southern coast of the peninsula from the sea. We’ll try our luck in spotting a brown bear or two wandering in search of food, often salmon in the autumn months. We make Rausu our home for the two nights. (B, L, D)
Activity – Walking
Distance – 3km/1.9miles
Estimated duration – 1.5 hours
Marine bird & mammal watching cruise in Rausu
The Rausu coast also features a deep ocean trench, making it a favourite home for marine mammals such as sperm whales and Dall’s porpoises. This morning we board on a larger boat than yesterday to journey further offshore to try spotting those sea mammals and sea birds.
The afternoon is free for everyone to enjoy some free time: relaxing in your room or exploring Rausu town on foot.
If you are an onsen lover, we can head out together to either Aidomari Onsen or Kuma-No-Yu, which are free outdoor onsens looked after by the local communities. We regroup in the evening and dine out in town. (B, D)
Activity – Boat cruise
Estimated duration – 2.5 hours
Transfer to Yoroushi Onsen & hike to Mt Moanyama
This morning we travel by van for 1.5 hours down the southern coast of the Shiretoko Peninsula, heading for Yoroushi Onsen. Yoroushi is a peaceful hot spring village nestled in the forest, here you can enjoy soaking in the outdoor onsen listening to the sounds of the river and surrounding nature.
We hike to a small hill called Mt Moanyama (356m/1,168ft) near Yoroushi Onsen, providing a scenic view towards Mt Mashudake & Mt Nishibetsudake. We enjoy a picnic lunch on the trail and later check into our accommodation for the night.
Tonight’s accommodation will be popular with bird lovers, as Blakiston’s fish owls capriciously turn up to feed along the river running by our accommodation. (B, D)
Activity – Hiking
Distance – 4.5 km/2.8 miles
Estimated duration – 3 hours
Seafood lunch & guided canoeing in Kiritappu Wetland
Today we have an easy morning as we travel south in the van for 1.5 hours to Hamanaka Town, a prosperous fishing and dairy farming town located on the southern coast of Hokkaido. We call into scenic Cape Kiritappu and its lighthouse briefly before we meet up with local fishing families to share a hands-on lunch with them.
We will try our hands at making ”dashi”, kelp stock which is used for making miso soup as well as at preparing sea urchin. We will enjoy this seafood lunch together with these local families, fuelling up for our afternoon canoeing on the Kiritappu Wetland.
Though the scale of this wetland is not as significant as in Kushiro, Kiritappu offers an attractive setting for canoeing in narrow river channels, allowing us to float peacefully and feel closeness with the wetland ecosystem.
We dine at our accommodation tonight where we’ll learn about our host’s contributions towards the conservation of Kiritappu Wetland while celebrating over our final dinner together. (B, L, D)
Activity – Canoeing
Estimated duration – 2 hours
Transfer to Kushiro & farewells
We say goodbye to our host and then drive 1.5 hours to Kushiro City to complete the tour. We can drop you off at either Kushiro JR Station at around 11:00 am or Kushiro Airport at 11:30 am. (B)
Travel to the Meeting Point
We will meet at either Kushiro Station or Kushiro Airport (KUH) between 1:00 pm and 2:00 pm on the first day. The airport shuttle bus for downtown Kushiro is scheduled to connect with all incoming flights, departing within 10 to 25 mins after arrival. The cost is 950 yen per person, and it takes 45 mins to Kushiro Station. If you wish to stay in Kushiro the night before, we are more than happy to assist you with booking your pre-tour accommodation.
If you are flying into Kushiro Airport (KUH) from Tokyo on the first day, please make sure you reserve an early morning flight that arrives at KUH before 12:30 pm, which allows us to pick you up from the airport on the day.
An alternative to flying is to travel by train (Japan Railway, abbr. JR), which travels 6 times a day between Sapporo and Kushiro. The best connecting train to join this tour is the one which departs Sapporo at 8:51 am and arrives at Kushiro at 1:20 pm. The cost is 9,990 yen for a reserved seat. Upon booking, please let us know your travel plans to Kushiro, and we will confirm in detail where and what time we will meet on the first day.
You can search train timetable in English on Japan Transit Planner website.
Japan’s Far East Wildlife & Adventure Tour Accommodation
|DAY 1||Hotel||Ensuite||Onsen spa|
|DAY 2||Ryokan||Ensuite||Onsen spa|
|DAY 3||Hotel||Ensuite||Onsen spa|
|DAY 6||Ryokan||Ensuite||Onsen spa|
|DAY 7||Minshuku||Shared bathroom||Spa|
What to Bring on your Japan’s Far East Wildlife & Adventure Tour
- Waterproof jacket and pants
- Adequate footwear for hiking
- Footwear that you don’t mind getting wet for canoeing
- Fleece or down jacket (even in the summer the temperature can drop below 10℃)
- Thermal layers top & bottom
- Base layers top & bottom
- Gloves, beanie, and items to keep you warm
- Sun hat, sunscreen, and sunglasses
- Water bottle or hydration system of more than 1L
- Quick-dry hand towel
- Personal medications
- Rain cover for backpack
- Backpack with enough capacity to carry all of the above
- Travel insurance
- Cash in Japanese yen. Small restaurants and shops in rural parts of Japan do not accept credit cards. Lunch in general costs 1,000-1,500 yen and dinner 2,000-3,000 yen. You can withdraw cash from an ATM at a post office and 7-eleven convenience stores.
- Walking poles
- Dry bag
- Motion sickness pills for the boat ride (available to purchase locally)
- Cellphone power bank
- Extra snacks which you’re used to eating during the activities
- First aid kit
- Safety equipment
Please note that you will be asked to show your passport when checking in accommodation in Japan. It is a requirement for accommodation providers to take a photocopy of the passport of non-Japanese guests.