Shiretoko National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the north-eastern part of Hokkaido. There’s really nothing much to do here except, oh, be surrounded by lush forests and overdosing on fresh air. Shiretoko’s most popular spot – 5 Lakes of Shiretoko (Shiretoko Goko) – is a wetland and a walk in the park, literally & figuratively. Car buddy was disappointed that there was no bear in sight; I was secretly relieved. I did hope to see a woodpecker or two but no such luck. The cloudy day blocked most of the views of the surrounding mountains.
An interesting thing that I did manage to see was a notice about the Shiretoko 100m2 Movement: to prevent rampant development on former farming land, the Town of Shari began seeking donations across the country to preserve the land from industrialisation and restore the land to its original natural state, with the slogan “Help buy a dream in Shiretoko!” It was also the first national trust in Japan. What a charming effort.
Is there any part of your natural habitat which you would like to preserve for future generations?
Drove along the Shiretoko Pass to the eastern part of the peninsula.
Somewhere along the Pass there was an outdoor hot spring. Or two. One of which is known as 熊の湯 which just sounds like ‘bear soup’ to me. Or is it ‘soup for bears’? Spent a bit of time hanging out amongst lush foliage. The sound of the running stream blends in harmony with the forest.
The Rausu side of the peninsula sits by the coast and is inhabited by local fishermen. Had a chiraishi bowl (rice topped with fish sashimi,sweet shrimp and roe) for lunch.
Further up north along the eastern coast at Aidomari (湘泊) there is, yet another, outdoor hot spring, but it’s partially sheltered for privacy, It’s free and sits right next to the north Pacific Ocean. I am thoroughly enjoying this hot-spring-hacking business and couldn’t wait to get in. The water was very hot, but a lady helpfully told me about the tap with usual temperature water.
Here’s a tip, remember to bring a towel whenever you travel around Japan. You never know when you might find a chance to take a hot bath which can be sheer BLISS.
In the distance were supposed to be some islets (near the cluster of Kuril islands) which Japan is disputing with Russia. Low hanging clouds in the skies made it impossible to see. Passed by another outdoor hot spring in Seseki ( 瀬石溫泉), also by the coast. It looks unappealing.
Passed by a mini golf lawn that seems to be popular with senior citizens. There is a camp site nearby. And a show farm with some prized produce. I like nightshades and zucchinis.
Went to an onsen spa (500yen) in the evening, that’s just right next to the campsite. Yet another one with an outdoor onsen! It’s on top of a hill that looks out to the sea of Okhotsk. Glimmers of the setting sun fell through the trees. I soaked contentedly to the sounds of flying gulls.
The next morning, I woke up in my little tent feeling refreshed. I was about to have my breakfast when this family joined me.
These deers are actually very common around here. But it feels special to see them first thing in the morning.
The fact that I had a deer burger yesterday was not lost on me.