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World Heritage / Shiretoko

Criteria: (ix) (x) | Date of Inscription: 2005 | Location: Hokkaido Prefecture | Justification for Inscription

UNESCO

Things to see

Shiretoko Nature Center
Shiretoko Nature Center
Cape Puyuni
Cape Puyuni
Shiretoko Goko in Autumn
Shiretoko goko in Autumn
Kamuiwakka-no-taki
Kamuiwakka-no-taki
Ryuhyo (Sea ice)
Ryuhyo (Sea ice)
Shiretoko Nature Center
The Shiretoko Nature Center is quite simply the best place to obtain Shiretoko area information and it is located at the starting point of the Shiretoko National Park. Tourists are recommended to get the basic feel for and knowledge of Shiretoko here while learning of the rules to be followed in enjoying its immense offerings of nature before embarking on a tour.
A one-kilometer trail for "the Furepe-no-taki Falls" starts to the rear of the Nature Center building with the trail winding through a forest of broadleaf trees, a meadow, and a point where you can view the descent from a local bluff - ideal to enjoy strolling around and to soak up those first views of Shiretoko.
Shiretoko misaki (Cape Shiretoko)
Cape Shiretoko is a 30-meter-high dune that forms the tip of the Shiretoko peninsula. It is designated as a protected area of the national park meaning tourists are not permitted to enter although you can see this site from a sea cruise on one of the boats offering such cruises found in Shari-cho. The tour starts at the port of Utoro and follows a course to Cape Shiretoko along the unique-shaped rocks of Cape Puyuni and the Yunohana-no-taki Falls, the Kamuiwakka-no-taki Falls and the Gulf of Rusha where many brown bears appear at the shore.
Shiretoko goko (The Five Lakes of Shiretoko)
This area consists of two geological layers. One is a form of hard rock through which water cannot pass; the other being the leftover lava from Mt. Io-dake. The groundwater collected between these two layers emerged over the years to create five lakes. The five lakes produced are called "Shiretoko goko (the five lakes of Shiretoko)." A 3 kilometer trail circumnavigates the lakes for walkers. The largest of the five is called "Niko (the second lake)" and is 1.5 kilometer in circumference. The trail itself offers the chance to see trees scratched by brown bears, seasonal wild flowers and of course the beautiful views of the lakes.
Keep in mind that many brown bears do live in this area and tourists should know what to do in case of meeting a bear. Preventive measures such as ringing bells are standard recommendations.
Kamuiwakka-no-taki (The Kamuiwakka-no-taki Falls)
This famous set of falls is located on the Kamuiwakka River and contains a mixture of river water and hot water flowing up from a sulfuric hot spring; a non-stop flow since the eruption of Mt. Io-dake in 1936. To reach the basin of the hot spring, tourists climb along the side of the river for half an hour but the route to the basin is so steep that tourists should consider their physical condition before attempting the climb. Getting wet is unavoidable so spare clothes are necessary or hardy souls could don swimwear. NB: the use of shampoo or soap is prohibited.
The Wild Life of Shiretoko
Shiretoko, Japan's last untouched area is the natural habitat for varied forms of wild life. Mammal species found include brown bears, Yezo shika deer, red foxes and red squirrels. Reports shows that the density of the brown bear population is from 7.3 to 14.1 per 100 square kilometers, and that the number of Yezo sika deer equates to approximately 10,000 - data enough to indicate the quality of the environment in unspoilt form on Shiretoko.

With regards to bird life, Shiretoko is an important habitat for the following endangered bird species:

-Blakiston's fish-owl: The number of Blakiston's fish-owls in Shiretoko is estimated at around 40, a vital source of numbers for a bird listed on the Red List of the IUCN as 'EN'(endangered).

-Steller's sea eagle: It is reported that about 5,000 Steller's sea eagles remain alive today globally. According to records, over 2,000 Steller's sea eagles wintered in Shiretoko in 1986. Irrespective of this seemingly high number, the bird is listed on the Red List of IUCN as 'VU' (vulnerable).

-White-tailed eagle: In Shiretoko, its main wintering site, as many as 600 white-tailed eagles have been observed in the winter.
Ryuhyo (Sea ice)
Shiretoko is the southernmost point in the Northern hemisphere where sea ice can be observed year after year. From late January to April, when Hokkaido's spring starts, the coastline of the Sea of Okhotsk is covered with drifting sea ice. Steller's sea eagles, white-tailed eagles, Blakiston's fish-owls, sea lions, and seals can all be seen playing and hunting on the ice.
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