Ranked amongst the world’s top three for beautiful sunsets, the most populous city in Eastern Hokkaido is the ideal destination for those who love wildlife and the great outdoors.
Measuring a good 3,168 hectares, this marsh belongs to “The Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance” and home to hundreds of species of plants that are prized in the scientific community.
Literally meaning “fireside-cooking”, this method originated from northern Japanese fishermen who used a communal hearth to cook and keep warm.
Onnenai Visitor Center
The ideal starting point for nature lovers looking to explore the many sightseeing trails of Kushiro Shitsugen Wetlands, this facility serves as an information centre, rest stop and venue for exchange activities.
Kushiro City Red-crowned Crane Natural Park
Revered by the Ainu people as “god of the marsh”, Japanese Cranes were once thought to be extinct until 1962. The park houses a specialized breeding facility with some of the world’s foremost artificial incubation equipment.
Kushiro Shitsugen Norokko Train
Running between Kushiro and Tōro on the Senmo Main Line, passengers on board can enjoy the expansive landscape of the Kushiro Wetlands stretching out before their eyes from its broad, open windows.
Marimo Exhibition & Observation Center
Accessible only by watercraft, the centre is where you can observe marimo (マリモ, algae balls) and learn about their unique biology. There is also an enormous aquarium that replicates the bottom of Lake Akan.
One of the best places to catch the natural phenomena of unkai (雲海, sea of clouds), this is also the largest lake formed in a volcanic crater in all of Japan.
A mixed bath separated only by a large stone, this open-air hot spring is located next to Lake Kussharo, so you take in scenic sights and even watch the setting sun while soaking.
During winter, lucky visitors may be able to see frost flowers — formed when feather-like ice crystals foldover layer upon layer in the absence of wind, this is a rare phenomenon that is worth braving the cold for.
(This feature first appeared on WAttention Singapore magazine, Sep/Oct 2018 Vol. 46)