Wild Lands of Eastern Hokkaido

Wild Lands of Eastern Hokkaido

JTB Australia Tour
JTB Australia Tour
JTB Australia Tour


  • Taste Hokkaido’s famed seafood and local produce- considered some of the best in Japan
  • Visit crystal clear crater lakes unique to the region
  • See incredible views of varied landscapes each day from wetlands, to forests, to mountains
  • Learn about the unique culture of Hokkaido’s indigenous people
  • Enjoy natural wonders and viewing Hokkaido brown bears from the sea on a wildlife-spotting boat ride
  • Experience soothing onsen hot spring baths after incredible hiking

See untouched nature, visit UNESCO wetland nature reserves, experience spectacular landscapes formed by volcanoes, and enjoy flora and fauna unique to Hokkaido. This small-group journey will take you from Kushiro on Hokkaido’s Eastern Pacific coast, through to the Shiretoko Peninsula stretching out into the Sea of Okhotsk. After each day’s walk relax in onsen hot springs, a delightful by-product of the region’s geothermal activity. Another highlight of the tour is Hokkaido’s wonderful regional cuisine, some of the freshest in Japan with local specialties found at every stage of the journey. Hokkaido covers too large an area to explore on just one visit, but this itinerary brings you to the very best locations on the island.


  • Day
  • 1
Meet in Kushiro
  • Hotel Hotel
  • Meal Welcome Dinner

Meet at the tour hotel in the centre of Kushiro. Enjoy a Welcome Dinner at a local Robatayaki restaurant. Robatayaki is a style of cooking on an open hearth called an Irori and said to originate in Kushiro. Fishermen of northern Japan have cooked in this way for more than a century and the technique has now spread throughout the country. Our dinner is grilled seafood of the highest quality.

  • Day
  • 2
Walk Kushiro Marshland and travel to Akan Onsen
  • Walking 6.8km
  • World Heritage site negligible ascent and descent
  • Walking 3 hours
  • Traditional Japanese Ryokan Inn Japanese-style Hot spring Hotel
  • Meal Dinner and breakfast

Travel this morning by private vehicle to Kushiro marshland, Japan’s largest wetland area with a diverse ecosystem and Japan’s first Ramsar Site. The area is home to the red-crowned crane, a national treasure and loved by birdwatchers, as well as abundant other wildlife. Walk through the forest to the observatory overlooking the vast marshland and then continue on trails through the marsh exploring the local flora and fauna. After the walk we head onwards in our vehicle to Lake Akan, a crater lake in the Lake Akan National Park. The area is home to the largest community of indigenous Ainu people in Hokkaido. We stay here for two nights in a lovely onsen hot spring hotel in a lakeside setting.

  • Day
  • 3
Hike Meakandake
  • Walking 6.6km
  • World Heritage site 788m ascent, 788m descent
  • Walking 4.5 hours
  • Traditional Japanese Ryokan Inn Japanese-style Hot Spring Hotel
  • Meal Dinner and breakfast

Today we climb Mount Meakandake, an active volcano whose peak reaches 1,499m and which has formed the landscape around Lake Akan. We hike through wonderful scenery. Ainu legend says that Mount Meakandake and Mount Oakandake were a married couple, but Oakandake was unfaithful to his wife. The volcanic activity which continues to this day symbolises the strife between them.
Gaze across the landscapes of Mount Oakandake and Lake Onneto, watching out for alpine flowers unique to Hokkaido.

  • Day
  • 4
Visit Ainu Kotan Village in the morning and afternoon walk to Mt. Iou
  • Walking 5.2km
  • World Heritage site negligible ascent and descent
  • Walking 2.5 hours
  • Traditional Japanese Ryokan Inn Onsen Ryokan (Hot Spring Travellers Inn)
  • Meal Dinner and breakfast

This morning we visit the Akanko Ainu Kotan Village to learn about the history and culture of Hokkaido’s indigenous inhabitants, the Ainu. We watch a traditional dance performance, officially recognised as an important feature of Japan’s cultural heritage.
Afterwards we travel by our private vehicle to Kawayu Onsen and enjoy a lovely walk to Mount Iou, known as Atosa Nupuri or “Naked Mountain” in the Ainu language. Today, Mount Iou is a very active volcano and we will watch as sulphur rises from the more than 1,500 fumaroles covering its slopes.
Our lodging tonight is a charming ryokan inn in Kawayu Onsen. The town is famous for having some of the highest-quality thermal waters in the whole of Hokkaido. Kawayu Onsen’s name in the Ainu language is “Seseki-petsu” meaning “hot river flowing through the village”.

  • Day
  • 5
Walk along Lake Mashu and traverse the Mashu Caldera
  • Walking 11.4km
  • World Heritage site 553m ascent, 763m descent
  • Walking 5 hours
  • Traditional Japanese Ryokan Inn Onsen Ryokan (Hot Spring Travellers Inn)
  • Meal Dinner and breakfast

After a short journey by private vehicle we reach Lake Mashu. Known as one of the clearest lakes in the world and one of the most beautiful in the whole of Japan, Lake Mashu is often shrouded in mist during the summer months, giving it an air of mystery.
After climbing on foot to the peak of Nishibetsudake, we descend the other side of the mountain, enjoying amazing views of the vast grass farmland unique to Hokkaido. After the hike, we continue by private vehicle to Abashiri, a modern town which relies on its fishing industry. Our accommodation tonight is a lovely Onsen Ryokan.

  • Day
  • 6
Wakka Nature Centre
  • Walking Optional Cycling/Walking up to 20km
  • World Heritage site negligible ascent and descent
  • Walking 2 hours
  • Traditional Japanese Ryokan Inn Hot Spring Hotel
  • Meal Dinner and breakfast

Today we enjoy optional cycling or walking through one of the largest wildflower nature reserves in Japan beside Lake Saroma, Japan’s third-largest lake with a length of 20 kilometres. In the Wakka Nature Centre we can spot hundreds of different types of flowering plants.
Later, we visit the Museum of Northern People and learn more about the indigenous peoples inhabiting the north. The Ainu have a history stretching back over 2,000 years to the time of their arrival in Hokkaido from Siberia; the area also has mysterious traces of an even earlier culture called the Moyoro.
We make our way to Utoro Onsen, a pleasant hot-spring town and gateway to the vast Shiretoko Wilderness. This is a perfect base for our next three nights in a local hotel enjoying the onsen baths and regional delicacies.

  • Day
  • 7
Sea of Okhotsk boat ride and Shiretoko Five Lake trails
  • Walking 3.4km
  • World Heritage site Negligible ascent and descent
  • Walking 1.5 hours
  • Traditional Japanese Ryokan Inn Hot Spring Hotel
  • Meal Dinner and breakfast

If the weather is kind today, we enjoy a boat ride on the Sea of Okhotsk. From the sea there are stunning views of the Shiretoko Peninsula’s dramatic coastline and perhaps even glimpses of Hokkaido brown bears and their cubs, as well as deer, foxes, and marine life such as dolphins and whales. If the weather is not calm enough for the boat ride, we’ll stay on land and hike a lovely waterfall path instead.
In the afternoon we travel by local bus to the famous Shiretoko Five Lakes, spending time on the picturesque nature trails there.

  • Day
  • 8
Lake Rausu
  • Walking 6.3km
  • World Heritage site 187m ascent, 187m descent
  • Walking 3 hours
  • Traditional Japanese Ryokan Inn Hot Spring Hotel
  • Meal Dinner and breakfast

Today begins with a local bus journey to the start of today’s walk past picturesque lakes and onwards to Lake Rausu, recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage site and the largest lake on the Shiretoko Peninsula. Here there are stunning views of Mount Rausu, highest peak of the peninsula. This is a wonderfully remote area whose beauty is not widely known. We provide boots for the uniquely enjoyable mud trail before returning to our lodgings in Utoro Onsen.


  • Day
  • 9
Tour ends
  • Meal Breakfast

After breakfast, our guide will arrange transfer to Memanbetsu Airport for your return flight to Tokyo or Osaka airport.



Tour Length 

9 days


From $6,610 per person, twin share

Type and Level of Trip

Active – Daily walking and hiking between 1.5 and 5 hours, with soothing onsen hot springs after each day’s walk.

What is Included
  • Full-time services of an English-speaking tour guide
  • 8 nights in hotels and Japanese-style inns
  • Due to the rural nature of this tour, some properties will only have Japanese-style bedding and shared facilities
  • Daily breakfast and 8 dinners
  • All transportation between tour locations
  • Entrance to museums, national parks and other sights on the group’s itinerary
  • Daily luggage transfer on motorcoach
  • Airport transfer upon departure from Utoro Onsen to Memanbetsu Airport
What’s Not Included
  • Flights
  • Airport transfer upon arrival from Kushiro airport to Kushiro city
  • Pay locally for drinks with meals and for lunches
  • Entrance fees to museums, temples etc. not mentioned in the itinerary
  • A single room supplement is required for solo travellers at hotels
  • When the group stays at Japanese-style properties you might be asked to share a room with another group member of the same gender

07 SEP 2020 

18 SEP 2020 

31 JUL 2021 

03 SEP 2021 

10 SEP 2021 

Important Due to the rural nature of this tour, slight alterations of the itinerary are possible. 

< 2020s30s40s50s60s70+

JTB Australia Tour
JTB Australia Tour
JTB Australia Tour