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Shiretoko Peninsula

Journey to the “end of the world” in Hokkaido’s far north for camping, trekking, and more.

Shiretoko Peninsula is one of Japan’s last untouched regions, with glittering alpine lakes, snow-capped mountains, and beautiful ocean views. Located on the northeast edge of Hokkaido, Shiretoko is ripe for outdoor activities like camping and even walking on drift ice floating down from Russia.

Shiretoko National Park Deer Hokkaido

A family of sika deer in Shiretoko National Park.

The name Shiretoko is derived from the indigenous Japanese Ainu term sir etok, which means “end of the world.” The region is still home to one of the largest Ainu populations who are considered Japan’s original people. Many sites on the peninsula are spiritually significant to them.

In 2005, UNESCO named Shiretoko Peninsula a World Heritage Site due to its abundance of wildlife and marine ecosystems. Although UNESCO sites often bring hordes of tourists, the peninsula is isolated enough that it remains relatively untarnished.

Outdoor activities in Shiretoko

Shiretoko National Park Mountain Hokkaido

Take a stroll on the ice.

Most of the peninsula is designated as Shiretoko National Park. The park is a pristine expanse of wilderness and so remote that there’s not even a road to connect you to the outermost edges of Shiretoko.

The most popular attractions at Shiretoko Peninsula will have you appreciating nature on both land and sea. You can walk on the Okhotsk Sea during the winter months on drift ice that flows down to Shiretoko from Russia. This unique experience is something you can’t do anywhere else in the world!

Famous Foods You'll Find in Hokkaido

Hokkaido Butter Ramen in Japan
Several boating tours will take you along the peninsula coast. You can spot orcas, sperm whales, seals, and more depending on the time of year.

A few different hiking routes that circle the scenic Shiretoko Five Lakes region may steer you face-to-face with deer, raccoon dogs, and red foxes. Between May and July, you may even stumble upon a brown bear so be careful!

Oshinkoshin Falls and Oronko Rock

Oshinkoshin Falls in summer in Shiretoko Hokkaido

Oshinkoshin Falls in summer.

Natural sights on Shiretoko include Oshinkoshin Falls and Oronko Rock, which are considered sacred by the Ainu.

Oshinkoshin means “beautifully forked waterfalls” in the Ainu language and is known for its two wide streams. Oronko Rock, or Oronkoiwa, named after the indigenous Oronko people, is a massive rock formation jutting out of the sand. Visitors who climb the 60-meter staircase on the rock’s side will be rewarded with a stunning view of the sunset at the end of the day.

Shiretoko Pass is another popular destination. It marks the highest point where the east coast connects to the peninsula’s west coast. The observation deck at the pass has incredible views of some of the nearby islands and the snowy peaks across the peninsula.

Accommodation in Shiretoko

At Rausu Shiretoko Hokkaido Japan

Rausu is one of the Shiretoko Peninsula’s last villages.

The best places to stay in the Shiretoko Peninsula are its gateway towns, Rausu and Utoro. Rausu is located on the eastern coast, while Utoro can be found on the western coast.

These are fishing villages-turned-tourist hubs, which both have natural hot springs perfect for keeping warm or relaxing sore muscles. Utoro is also home to one of Japan’s Godzilla rocks. It makes sense that the Shiretoko Peninsula would be the big guy’s stomping grounds.

These are the last large villages where you can find amenities like hotels, restaurants, and visitor centers. Aside from a few lonesome lodges and cabins, north of these towns is mostly pure wilderness (perfect for camping!). Both towns are well-connected to other sections of the Shiretoko Peninsula via tourist shuttles and busses and offer sightseeing boating tours.


Hokkaido Butter Ramen in Japan

Famous Foods You'll Find in Hokkaido

Butter us up, baby!


Things To Know

Best time to visit 

You can visit the Shiretoko Peninsula at any time of the year since every season brings something new to experience. The most popular seasons to visit are in spring when the weather is perfect for hiking and in winter when visitors can take part in walking on drift ice.

Hiking trails are usually open from April to October. Drift ice tours run mostly in January and February. Between November and early April, the road to Shiretoko Pass is closed.  

How To Get There


Shiretoko National Park, 斜里町 斜里郡 Hokkaido, Japan

By bus

From Nakashibetsu Airport, take the Akan bus 70 minutes to Rausu town. From Memanbetsu Airport, take the airport line bus to Abashiri Station, and the JR Senmo line to Shiretokoshari Station. From there, the Expressway Bus to Utoro town takes 60 minutes.

By plane

The nearest airports to Shiretoko Peninsula in Hokkaido are rural Nakashibetsu Airport and Memanbetsu Airport. It’s possible to rent a car from either of these airports to drive to the Shiretoko Peninsula.

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