Encompassing an impressive 12.8% of the total land mass of Hokkaido, the entire Okhotsk area is home to a quasi-national park, two prefectural nature parks and three national parks including the Shiretoko World Natural Heritage site.
Kitakitsune Fox Farm
The kitakitsune (北きつね, northern fox) is characterised by its large hind legs and ears with bright orange-brown and white fur. Here, you can watch as about 60 of these adorable creatures frolic about in a vast field.
Ubaranai Sango-so Colony
A rare plant that only grows in certain parts of Hokkaido, Okayama and Kagawa, the sango-so (サンゴ草, common glasswort) is usually green but changes colour in autumn; marvel at the stunning spread of red at Japan’s largest colony!
Wakasagi Fishing in Lake Abashiri
Try your hand at ice fishing this coming winter — drill open a hole in the thick ice of the lake and catch scores of wakasagi (ワカサギ, pond smelt), which you can then fry and enjoy as tempura.
Okhotsk Abashiri Zangi Don
This local speciality features Okhotsk salmon marinated in whitebait soy sauce which is then fried and served on steaming Abashiri-produced rice.
Shiretoko Ice Walk
The Shiretoko Peninsula is the southernmost region of the northern hemisphere to see ryūhyō (流氷, drifting sea ice). Under good conditions, you can join “ice walk tours” while dressed in dry suits.
Abashiri Prison Museum
Constructed in the 1890s, the prison was modernized in 1984 and had its old buildings shifted to this museum which showcases a law court, bathhouse and punishment chamber amongst other facilities.
Okhotsk Ryuhyo Museum
Showcasing a large-scale projection mapping in Hokkaido, the museum also displays actual drift ice and introduces how it forms. Check out their marine creatures exhibits and the spectacular view from their observation deck too!
Fresh Uni Don
Nothing can prepare you for the taste of freshly harvested uni (うに, sea urchin); its rich, melt-in-the-mouth goodness is a perfect match for rice.
Shiretoko Coast Cafeteria
Designed so that the entire Sea of Okhotsk can be seen by diners, the scenic restaurant serves up seasonal seafood rice bowls.
Shiretoko Shari – Road To The Sky
This 18-kilometre-long road stretches straight into the horizon, and because of the height difference, looks as though it is leading to “heaven”. From end, September to early October, catch the unparalleled view of the sun setting in the middle of the road.
Shiretoko Five Lakes
Formed by the eruption of Mt. Io (硫黄山) and fed by underground springs, these five lakes were likened to a god’s five fingerprints. Here, you can take in splendid sights of the surrounding mountains and wilderness.
Kamuiwakka Hot Falls
A designated World Natural Heritage Site, this scenic site is made more interesting by the fact that the water flowing out the side of Mt. Io is hot! Visitors can enjoy a relaxing a hike up the mountain stream.
To find out more about the East Hokkaido region, click here.
(This feature first appeared on WAttention Singapore magazine, Sep/Oct 2018 Vol. 46)