Hokkaido Tour Day 3: Shiretoko

By Aimu

Posted Mon Jun 28 2021


The 3rd day was a tough day. It started with a two-hour drive from the Lake Mashu to Rausu just to find out that the whale watching tour got cancelled due to high waves. That was a huge let-down. However, nothing is a waste of time when traveling! The 3rd day was surely full of trouble but was also an exciting day.

The Clearest Water in the World, the Lake Mashu

The first thing I did in the morning was to see the Lake Mashu from an observatory. Not that I swam in the lake, but I could see how clear the water is from the observatory. The view was absolutely astonishing. This is no surprise considering that the Lake Mashu is called Kamuito (lake of gods) in the Ainu language.

There are two observatories to enjoy the Lake Mashu as the Uramashu observatory is to be removed. The most popular one is the first observatory. This is where all the tourist buses stop. They charge you 500 yen for the parking. If you prefer less crowds, visit the third observatory. The parking is free at the third observatory.

Nice scallops at Hamada

After the two hours drive, it was heartbreaking to know that the whale watching tour got cancelled. The silver lining was that I could move it to the next day. With a huge disappointment, I looked for a place to eat because I was so hungry after skipping a breakfast.

There were not many places open for lunch, so I searched on Google and headed to a restaurant which seemed nice and was close to where I was. They offer seafood freshly caught in the sea of Rausu. I was tempted to order a crab, but eventually went for the scallops. Grilled with butter on a small charcoal grill, the scallops were so soft and tasty.

Watch out for the Bears in the Shiretoko Goko Lakes!

After the lunch, I headed to the Shiretoko Goko Lakes to explore the Shiretoko nature. The Shiretoko Goko Lakes offer different experiences depending on the season. There are two pathways to explore the five lakes: the elevated wooden path and the ground pathways. Both pathways are closed during the winter, and guided tours are available during the midwinter.

I luckily made it to visit the ground pathways before the pathways close for winter. From May 10th to July 31st while the bears are active, visitors may only walk on the ground pathways with an experienced guide. However, because I went after that season, I was able to walk on the pathways on my own after a short lecture.

I learned not to walk off the road for any reason in order to protect the plants, and not to feed or touch any wild animals as well as how to protect myself from bears. I was surprised to know how often you encounter bears in Shiretoko. The staff explained that there was an encounter the day before I went and that the pathways were closed for a while.

I clapped hands to show my presence to bears and managed to avoid them throughout the walk. Although a little scared, I was also a bit excited to see wild bears. But I guess it is a good thing that I did not meet them. Unfortunately, I did not see any animals during the walk, but the lakes were beautiful. The nature is fickle, so I will try this again next time to see what else they have to offer.

The 4th day was a busy day with a guided walking tour in the wild and the whale watching tour. Stay tuned for my next article to enjoy the great nature of Shiretoko!


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