All About the Eight Sights of Shiretoko: Grand Nature Unfolding at the End of the Earth
"Shiretoko" is said to come from "the end of the earth" in the language of the Ainu, Hokkaido's aboriginal people. As the name implies, it's a spiritual place far away from where people live, and now it's a precious area full of untouched nature. It was registered as a Natural World Heritage Site in 2005, so it's become well-known overseas for its value as well. There are eight spots in Shiretoko where you can fully enjoy the vast nature of the area, from lakes and marshes in virgin forest to unique waterfalls.
Shiretoko Five Lakes
These 5 lakes were created by volcanic activity from Mt. Io. It's a treasure trove of wild animals, and they have guided Nature Watching Tours. There are 2 routes, one on the ground and one on a high structure, but there are times when the ground route has limited entry due to the activity of brown bears and for flora protection reasons, so you must double-check first.
This 80m waterfall splendidly falls over a rock wall. It's considered one of Japan's top 100 waterfalls because of the beautiful way the water splits in two.
Kamuiwakka Hot Falls
It looks like a regular waterfall, but actually, the fall is made of spring water that wells up from Mt. Io, so the entire river is a hot spring.
This is a huge 60m tall rock by Utoro Port. You can reach the flat top by climbing stone stairs, and during the summer you can enjoy the view of the Sea of Okhotsk and the Shiretoko mountains from the top.
This is a lovely spot on the road heading to the Shiretoko National Park Nature Center from Utoro. If the weather is clear, you can see straight to the mountains of Akan National Park.
This pass is at the summit (738m) of Shiretoko Odan Road. The sight of Mt. Rausu ahead is magnificent, and this spot is famous for foliage in the autumn.
This waterfall is made from the underground water from Mt. Rausu, and falls from a crack in a 100m-tall cliff. The waterfall is called "the tears of a maiden" by locals because of the way the water looks as it falls.
This is a great sunset spot in Shiretoko National Campground. You can enjoy a view of the Sea of Okhotsk painted orange by the sunset that's so beautiful it will make you swallow your breath.
These are 8 spots that show off the beautiful nature of Shiretoko. If you gaze at the large-scale nature of Shiretoko, your daily exhaustion may just fly away.
[This article was originally published in Walkerplus on 04.18.2017]
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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