Japan's Far East
Multi-day Guided Hiking, Canoeing & Wildlife Tour in Eastern Hokkaido
8 Day Wildlife & Adventure Tour
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 Travellers2 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 National Park, Akan Mashu National Park, and Shiretoko National Park.
- Wildlife cruises with a chance to sight Ezo brown bear, seabirds & marine 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: the wetland park of Kushiro-shitsugen, Akan Mashu park, home to lakes and volcanos 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 people who devote their lives to conserving the wetland and its inhabitants. 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 love cultural exploration, water activities & wildlife encounters
- Adventurous travellers who enjoy rural hospitality staying at accommodation off the beaten track
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 Mount Iōzan & transfer to Utoro, Shiretoko (B, L, D)
Day 4 Walking at Shiretoko Five Lakes & Brown bear cruise in Rausu (B, L, D)
Day 5 Marine wildlife watching cruise in Rausu (B, D)
Day 6 Transfer to Yoroushi Onsen & hike near Mount 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 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 includedItems that are not included in the cost of tour price.
- Personal expenses
- Drinks with included meals
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. (D)
Activity – Walking
Distance – 2.5km/1.6miles
Estimated duration – 1.5 hours
Guided canoeing on Lake Kussharo & the Kushiro River
We will spend the whole day exploring by canoe today, at 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. We will have morning tea when we land near ”Oyakotsu Jigoku”, where we will enjoy eggs cooked in geothermal steam!
After we enjoy outdoor lunch, 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 Mount Iōzan & transfer to Utoro, Shiretoko
This morning, we will set off from our accommodation on foot to explore the village of Kawayu. 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. We will then 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 1.5 hours northeast 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
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 northern side, and Rausu on the southern side. The rest of the peninsula remains untouched and is a habitat for wildlife, such as brown bears, sika deers, red foxes, squirrels. Needless to say, the marine and bird life are also rich in diversity.
This morning, we explore Shiretoko on land, walking 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 five of the lakes, unless the walkway is closed due to 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 will 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 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 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 near Mount 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. You can enjoy soaking in the outdoor onsen listening to the sounds of the river and surrounding nature.
We start our hike near Mt Moanyama (356m / 1,168ft) and head in the direction of Yoroushi Onsen. This section of trail is maintained by the local farming community and provides a unique walking experience amid the ranches. We have lunch at the Saeki Farm, whose owner is the key person for the ranch trail building and always welcomes hikers with open arms.
Tonight’s accommodation will be popular with bird lovers, as Blakiston’s fish owls turn up from time to time to feed along the river running by our accommodation.
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, where we can spot wild sea otters if we are lucky. We will then meet up with local fishing families and share a hands-on lunch with them. *
We will try our hands at preparing sea urchin, as well as making ”dashi”, kelp stock used for making miso soup. We will enjoy this seafood lunch with the local families, fuelling up for our afternoon canoeing on the Kiritappu Wetland. *
* Note: During the COVID-19 pandemic we are unable to have the social lunch and will instead enjoy a seafood lunch at Kiritappu in our group.
Although the scale of the wetlands in Kiritappu is not as significant as those in Kushiro, Kiritappu offers an attractive setting for canoeing with narrow river channels. We will float peacefully and experience the wetland ecosystem up close.
Tonight we either overnight at a lodge in Hamanka or at a hotel in Kushiro depending on the room requirements of the group. (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.
|Dates||Trip Status||Twin Price (PP)||Single Price (PP)|
October 2, 2021 - October 9, 2021
May 29, 2022 - June 5, 2022
July 3, 2022 - July 10, 2022
August 1, 2022 - August 8, 2022
September 25, 2022 - October 2, 2022