Shiretoko Overview

Shiretoko National Park, located on the northeastern tip of Hokkaido, Japan, is a pristine natural reserve that exemplifies the untouched beauty of the wild. Spanning approximately 386 square kilometers (about 149 square miles), the park was established in 1964 and later recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005 for its outstanding value in biodiversity and unique ecosystem. The name “Shiretoko” is derived from the Ainu language, meaning “the end of the earth,” aptly describing the park’s remote and unspoiled landscape.

Shiretoko is renowned for its dramatic scenery, which includes rugged mountains, cascading waterfalls, and vast forests that stretch down to the coastline, meeting the Sea of Okhotsk. The park’s geographical isolation and harsh climatic conditions have preserved its unique ecosystems, which support a diverse range of flora and fauna. Shiretoko is particularly noted for its rich marine life, including the presence of sea ice in the winter, which provides a habitat for unique species such as the Clione limacina, or “sea angel,” and serves as a feeding ground for the Steller’s sea eagle and the white-tailed eagle.

The terrestrial environment of Shiretoko National Park is equally impressive, home to brown bears, deer, and foxes, among other wildlife. The park’s ecosystems are so diverse that they encompass both sub-alpine and marine zones, offering a rare glimpse into the coexistence of different habitats.

Shiretoko National Park offers visitors a variety of ways to explore its natural beauty, from hiking trails that wind through its dense forests and along its rugged coastline to boat tours that provide views of waterfalls and wildlife from the sea. Winter activities include ice walking and drift ice sightseeing, unique experiences that highlight the park’s distinctive seasonal dynamics.

Shiretoko National Park stands as a testament to the importance of preserving natural landscapes and biodiversity. It offers a sanctuary where nature thrives, largely untouched by human influence, providing a tranquil retreat for those seeking to connect with the natural world.

advertisement banner
Park Map
advertisement banner

Shiretoko National Park Pictures

Shiretoko National Park Trails

Shiretoko Five Lakes Trail

Rating: Easy to Moderate

Distance and Elevation Gain: 3 kilometers loop, with minimal elevation gain.

Description: This accessible boardwalk trail offers breathtaking views of the Shiretoko Five Lakes against a backdrop of dense forests and mountains.

The trail is famous for its scenery and wildlife, including deer and brown bears. An elevated wooden walkway protects visitors and the natural habitat, making it a safe option for all ages.

The clear waters and surrounding wilderness provide a serene hiking experience.

Furepe Waterfall Trail

Rating: Easy

Distance and Elevation Gain: About 2 kilometers round trip, with minimal elevation gain.

Description: Leading to the beautiful Furepe Waterfall, also known as the “Maiden’s Tears,” this trail offers stunning views of the Sea of Okhotsk.

The path winds through lush forests, ending at a viewpoint overlooking the waterfall that cascades down the cliff directly into the ocean.

It’s a relatively easy hike, suitable for families and offering excellent opportunities for photography.

Kamuiwakka Hot Springs Trail

Rating: Moderate

Distance and Elevation Gain: About 5 kilometers round trip, with some steep and slippery sections.

Description: This unique trail leads to the Kamuiwakka Hot Springs, a series of warm waterfalls and pools.

The hike involves walking up the river and through warm waterfalls, which can be challenging but rewarding. Hikers should be prepared for wet conditions and bring appropriate footwear.

The natural hot springs offer a relaxing soak surrounded by Shiretoko’s wilderness.

Rausu Kunashiri Observatory Deck Trail

Rating: Moderate

Distance and Elevation Gain: About 3 kilometers round trip, with an elevation gain of about 300 meters.

Description: This trail leads to the Rausu Kunashiri Observatory Deck, offering panoramic views of the Nemuro Strait and Kunashiri Island.

The path is steep in places but well-maintained, winding through dense forests before opening up to spectacular vistas.

It’s a great spot for sunrise views and bird watching, with the possibility of spotting sea eagles and other wildlife.

Shiretoko Pass Trail

Rating: Moderate

Distance and Elevation Gain: About 8 kilometers one way, with an elevation gain of about 400 meters.

Description: Connecting Utoro and Rausu, the Shiretoko Pass Trail offers stunning views of the peninsula and the Sea of Okhotsk. The hike is characterized by alpine flora, wildlife sightings, and dramatic landscapes.

The trail can be challenging due to its length and elevation gain but is rewarding for the diverse scenery and potential to see wildlife such as deer, foxes, and brown bears from a safe distance.

  • Japan Guide, Shiretoko,, retrieved December April 2024.
  • Japan Talk, Shiretoko,, retrieved April 2024.
  • JNTO, Shiretoko National Park,, retrieved April 2024.
  • Ministry of the Environment, Shiretoko National Park,, retrieved April 2024.
  • Rough Guides, Hiking in the Shiretoko National Park,, retrieved April 2024.
  • UNESCO, Shiretoko,, retrieved April 2024.