Whale watching off the Rausu coast, Shiretoko

Japan's Far East
8 Day Wildlife & Adventure Tour

Multi-day Guided Hiking, Canoeing & Wildlife Tour in Eastern Hokkaido

from
¥388,000

An intrepid journey covering the three National Parks in Eastern Hokkaido. Experience the best of our outdoors, wildlife & culture on this multi-day guided hiking, canoeing & wildlife tour.

  • Tour Duration

    8 Days
  • Minimum Travellers

    4 People
  • Accommodation

    7 Nights
  • Tour Starts

    Kushiro, Hokkaido
  • Included Meals

    7 Breakfasts
    4 Lunches
    7 Dinners
  • Tour Finishes

    Kushiro, Hokkaido

Tour Highlights

  • Explore deep into Japan’s Far East region, home to three national parks: Kushiro-Shitsugen National Park, Akan–Mashu National Park, and Shiretoko National Park.
  • Search for Brown Bear, seabirds & marine mammals off the Rausu coast on a wildlife cruise.
  • Take in the contrast between serene caldera lakes, Lake Akan and Lake Mashu, and active volcanoes.
  • Learn about the Ainu, Hokkaido’s indigenous people, directly from the source.

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 unique to Hokkaido.


On this tour, we travel through all three of National Parks found in eastern Hokkaido: the wetland park of Kushiro Shitsugen Wetland, Akan–Mashu – home to caldera lakes, and the wild Shiretoko Peninsula. The latter is also designated as a Natural Heritage Site in the UNESCO World Heritage List.

During the journey, we will also introduce you to local treasures, including the cuisine enjoyed by local fishermen and the culture of Hokkaido’s indigenous Ainu people, who lived here in harmony with nature, surviving as hunter-gatherers, since long before Japanese colonists arrived.

Come join us on this tour and meet the wildlife and charming local people who live in harmony with nature.


Who is this tour for?

  • Active travellers who enjoy walking for 3 to 5 hours a day.
  • Curious travellers who enjoy a mixture of activities & sightseeing and learning about the regions they visit.
  • Adventurous travellers who enjoy rural hospitality staying in Japanese style accommodations with natural hot springs on site.

Japan’s Far East Wildlife & Adventure Tour
Itinerary at a Glance

*B: Breakfast   L: Lunch   D: Dinner
Day 1 (D)
Meet your group in Kushiro City
Day 2 (B, L, D)
Guided walking at Lake Akan & Guided walking to Mount Iōzan
Day 3 (B, L, D)
Guided canoeing on Kushiro River & Transfer to Utoro, Shiretoko
Day 4 (B, L, D)
Guided walking at Shiretoko Five Lakes & Brown bear cruise in Rausu
Day 5 (B, D)
Marine wildlife watching cruise in Rausu
Day 6 (B, D)
Guided walking & wildlife watching on Notsuke Peninsula
Day 7 (B, L, D)
Guided canoeing on the Kiritappu Wetland
Day 8 (B)
Transfer to Kushiro & farewells


Tour Inclusions

Items 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 walking & Ainu culture tour at Lake Akan
  • Guided canoeing tour on Kushiro River
  • Brown bear watching cruise in Rausu
  • Marine wildlife 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 included

Items that are not included in the cost of tour price.
  • Airfare
  • 2 Lunches
  • Travel insurance
  • Personal expenses
  • Drinks with included meals

Meet your guide

  1. Day 1 Meet your group in Kushiro City

    We will meet between 1:00 pm and 2:00 pm in Kushiro City. We can arrange to pick you up from the airport at around 1:00 pm or from the railway station at around 1:30 pm. Once the group assembles in Kushiro, we’ll spend some time getting to know each other, discuss the programme for our upcoming adventure then 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), it is larger than our capital city Tokyo! After we enjoy the views of the vast wetland, we will travel by van for half an hour to Tsurui Village, where we spend our first night.

    Included meals
    – Dinner
    Accommodation
    – Hotel in Tsurui
    Activity
    – Walking
    Walking distance
    – 2.5km / 1.6miles (1.5 hours)

  2. Day 2 Guided walking at Lake Akan & to Mount Iōzan

    After breakfast at hotel, we will head for Lake Akan in the Akan–Mashu National Park. Lake Akan is a hot spot for hiking, fishing, bathing in hot springs, as the lake is located between the majestic Mt Oakan and Mt Meakan volcanic peaks. It is also a cultural hub for Ainu, the indigenous people of Northern Japan, where you find a variety of handcraft shops and galleries on the main street of the village.

    Here we will be joined by a local Ainu guide who will take us for a leisurely walk destined for a ”bokke”, the site where we see the bubbling mud on the shore of Lake Akan. While we walk we hear folklore stories and learn about the culture and customs of Ainu who worship the wildlife and have lived in harmony with the nature.

    After lunch in the Akan village, we travel onto Kawayu Onsen. In Japanese kawa means river & yu means hot water and as true to its name, there is a hot water river running through the village centre of Kawayu. We will hike to the source of the thermal springs that feed the river, Mt Iōzan, on an easy 2.5 km/1.6 miles trail from Kawayu village.

    A young active volcano, Mt Iōzan has steam constantly discharging from its fumaroles, which provide spectacular views. Hokkaido’s indigenous Ainu people named this mountain ”Atosanupuri”, which means ”naked mountain” due to no vegetation growing on its slopes.
    We will return on the same trail back to our vehicle in Kawayu Onsen, and drive 10 mins to our accommodation at Lake Kussharo. We will enjoy our meal and bathing in hot springs at our accommodation tonight.

    Included meals
    – Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Accommodation
    – Lodge at Lake Kussharo
    Activity
    – Walking
    Walking distance
    – 7.5km / 4.2miles (3 hours)

  3. Day 3 Guided canoeing on Kushiro River to Shiretoko

    Bidding farewell to our host, we will head for the start location of our canoeing adventure on the Kushiro River, which feeds into the Kushiro Wetland. We will jump on our Canadian canoes on the shore of Lake Kussharo, and start floating down leisurely on the pristine water until we reach the Biruwa Bridge. The area is a habitat for wild birds, including Grey Heron and Crested Kingfisher, which are occasionally seen while paddling down the river.

    In the afternoon, we will transfer to Utoro Shiretoko (1.5 hours drive) and have lunch on the way. Shiretoko, in the Ainu language means ”the land’s end”, situated at the far east region of Hokkaido, is often described as one of the last vestiges of true wilderness. Enroute, we call in to the Shiretoko World Heritage Centre to learn about what makes Shiretoko’s ecosystem unique, before settling into our accommodation.

    Included meals
    – Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Accommodation
    – Hotel in Utoro Shiretoko
    Activity
    – Canoeing (2.5 hours)

  4. Day 4 Walking at 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 western side, and Rausu on the eastern side. The rest of the peninsula remains untouched and is a habitat for wildlife, such as Brown Bears, Japanese Deer, Red Fox, Eurasian Red Squirrels. Needless to say, the marine and bird life are also rich in diversity.

    This morning, we explore Shiretoko on land, walking amongst the Shiretoko Five Lakes. The area is home to a rich population of Brown Bears. We aim to complete the entire walkway to visit all five of the lakes, unless the walkway is closed due to a bear on the trail.

    In the afternoon, we cross over 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. If we are lucky we may spot a Brown ear or two wandering in search of food, often salmon in the autumn months. We make Rausu our home for the next two nights.

    Included meals
    – Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Activity
    – Walking
    Walking istance
    – 3km / 1.9miles (1.5 hours)

  5. Day 5 Marine wildlife 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 and spot these 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.

    After dinner we have an option to drive 5 minutes to Washi-no-yado (Admission ¥3,000), where we can try our luck at seeing a Blakiston’s Fish Owl. This is a great way end to the day for keen birders.

    Included meals
    – Breakfast, Dinner
    Accommodation
    – Lodge in Rausu Shiretoko
    Activity
    – Boat cruise (2.5 hours)

  6. Day 6 Guided walking & wildlife watching on Notsuke Peninsula

    This morning we travel 1 hour down the coast from the Shiretoko Peninsula, heading for Notsuke Peninsula. Notsuke is Japan’s largest sand spit, extending over 26km to the Sea of Okhotsk. Registered under the Ramsar Convention, the peninsula is of ecological significance to the migrating birds and wildlife of Hokkaido. The area is one of few places where Red-crowned Cranes and White-tailed Eagles breed over summer.

    We will explore the area on foot hopefully to see some Hokkaido’s iconic land mammals such as Japanese Deer and Rex Fox. The shallow bay of Notsuke is also home to Harbour Seals, so be sure to take binoculars with you.

    After the walk, we head back to the Notsuke Peninsula Nature Centre for lunch, and then check into our accommodation near the Odaito Port. The area is known for its fresh scallop and shrimp, so we will enjoy seafood oriented local cuisine tonight.

    Included meals
    – Breakfast, Dinner
    Accommodation
    – Ryokan in Odaito Onsen
    Activity
    – Hiking
    Hiking distance
    – 4 km / 2.5 miles (3 hours)

  7. Day 7 Guided canoeing on the 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, where we can spot wild sea otters if we are lucky. After lunch in the township of Kiritappu, we’ll head towards Biwase River for canoeing on Kiritappu Wetland.

    Although the scale of the wetlands in Kiritappu is not as significant as those in Kushiro, its narrow river channels are fantastic for canoeing. We will float peacefully through the wetland and experience the ecosystem up close.

    Included meals
    – Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Accommodation
    – Ryokan in Kiritappu
    Activity
    – Canoeing (2 hours)

  8. Day 8 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.

    Included meals
    – Breakfast
    No Activity

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. 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. If you are arriving earlier, there is an airport shuttle bus for downtown Kushiro scheduled to connect with all incoming flights, departing within 10 to 25 mins after arrival. The bus costs 950 yen per person, and it takes 45 mins to Kushiro Station.

A more environmentally friendly 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 see English train timetables on on Japan Transit Planner website.

Japan’s Far East Wildlife & Adventure Tour Accommodation

DAY 1 Hotel in Tsurui Ensuite Onsen spa
DAY 2 Lodge in Lake Kussharo Ensuite Onsen spa
DAY 3 Hotel in Utoro Shiretoko Ensuite Onsen spa
DAY 4 Lodge in Rausu Shiretoko Ensuite NA
DAY 5 Lodge in Rausu Shiretoko Ensuite NA
DAY 6 Ryokan in Odaito Onsen Ensuite Onsen spa
DAY 7 Ryokan in Kiritappu Ensuite Spa

What to Bring on your Japan’s Far East Wildlife & Adventure Tour

Essentials

  • 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˚C/50˚F)
  • 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
  • Toiletries
  • Personal medications
  • Rain cover for backpack
  • Backpack between 20 and 30 litres
  • Enough face masks for the number of travel days (available to purchase locally)
  • Eco-friendly shopping bag and any other item to reduce single-use plastic waste
  • Travel insurance
  • Passport
  • 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.

Recommended

  • Walking poles
  • Binoculars
  • Dry bag
  • Motion sickness pills for the boat ride (available to purchase locally)
  • Cellphone power bank
  • Travel SIM
  • Familiar snacks to eat during activities
  • Camera

We supply

  • First aid kit
  • Safety equipment

Please note that you will be asked to show your passport when checking in accomodation in Japan. It is a requirement for accommodation providers to take a photocopy of the passport of international visitors.

What to bring on your Hokkaido Hiking tour graphic

Dates Trip Status Twin Price (PP) Single Price (PP)  
May 28, 2023 - June 4, 2023
Available
Twin Price (PP): ¥388,000
Single Price (PP): ¥415,000
July 2, 2023 - July 9, 2023
Closed
Twin Price (PP): ¥388,000
Single Price (PP): ¥415,000
July 31, 2023 - August 7, 2023
Closed
Twin Price (PP): ¥388,000
Single Price (PP): ¥415,000
September 3, 2023 - September 10, 2023
Closed
Twin Price (PP): ¥388,000
Single Price (PP): ¥415,000
September 24, 2023 - October 1, 2023
Available
Twin Price (PP): ¥388,000
Single Price (PP): ¥415,000