Shiretoko Peninsula, jutting out into the Sea of Okhotsk on the easternmost tip of Hokkaido, has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2005 and is renowned for its natural beauty and rich biodiversity.
People have been living on the Shiretoko Peninsula for thousands of years. The Ainu people, the indigenous inhabitants of Hokkaido, have a deep connection to the land and have lived in harmony with nature for centuries.
Getting to Shiretoko （知床）from Tokyo
The Shiretoko Peninsula is not easily accessible. The nearest major airport is Memanbetsu Airport, about 90 kilometers from the peninsula.
From Memanbetsu, visitors can take the Shiretoko Airport Liner to Utoro for 3500 yen.
2023 Shari bus that goes around world heritage Shiretoko|UU-Hokkaido Official Site
What to see on the Shiretoko Peninsula?
Shiretoko National Park（知床国立公園）
Shiretoko National Park is Japan’s largest and most pristine national park. Encompassing nearly half of the Shiretoko Peninsula, the park is home to a wide variety of wildlife, including bears, wolves, foxes, and deer. Visitors can hike through the park’s dense forests, explore its alpine lakes, and climb its towering mountains. The park is also a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Five Lakes (or Goko Lakes) are a series of interconnected lakes located in the heart of Shiretoko National Park. The lakes are surrounded by a lush forest and are home to a variety of birds and other wildlife. Visitors can take a boat tour of the lakes or hike along the lakeshore.
Shiretoko Pass is a mountain pass located on National Route 334. The pass connects the towns of Utoro and Rausu on the Shiretoko Peninsula. The pass is open to cars from late May to early November, depending on snow conditions. The drive over the pass is scenic, offering views of the surrounding mountains and coastline. The pass is also a popular spot for wildlife viewing, as it is home to a variety of animals, including bears, wolves, and foxes.
Cape Shiretoko is the easternmost point of Hokkaido. The cape is a rugged and windswept headland that offers dramatic views of the Sea of Okhotsk.
You can only see Cape Shiretoko by taking a sightseeing cruise around the Shiretoko Peninsula.
Rausu is a popular base for whale watching and drift ice tours. The town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is considered one of the most beautiful places in Japan.
The town’s name is derived from the Ainu word “Raushi”, which means “low land” or “place of men with beast-like spirits.”. The Ainu people have inhabited the Shiretoko Peninsula for thousands of years, and their culture is still evident in Rausu today.
Utoro City is a town located on the western coast of the Shiretoko Peninsula. The town’s name translates to “inner bay” in the Ainu language. Utoro is a popular base for exploring the natural wonders of Shiretoko National Park. Utoro is known for its fresh seafood, with a variety of restaurants serving up delicious dishes made with locally caught fish and crabs…
Furepe Waterfall（フレペの滝 (乙女の涙)）
Furepe Waterfall is a 100-meter (330-foot) cascade that plunges into the Sea of Okhotsk. It’s located in Shiretoko National Park, and the hike is a relatively easy one, taking about 20 minutes each way.
Kamuiwakka Hot Waterfall（カムイワッカ湯の滝）
Kamuiwakka Hot Waterfall is formed by hot spring water that cascades down a series of rock formations into the Kamuiwakka River. The temperature of the water varies depending on the location, with some areas being hot enough to bathe in.
The waterfall is closed from November to early June due to heavy snow.
The Road to the Sky
The Road to Heaven is a 28.1-kilometer scenic, winding road that traverses the Shiretoko Peninsula in Hokkaido, Japan. The road offers breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding mountains, lush forests, and the Sea of Okhotsk. The name “Road to the Sky” comes from the feeling of being lifted into the heavens as one travels along its elevated path.