Whether you’re a first-time traveler to Japan or a seasoned visitor, check your itinerary again: Did you forget about Kushiro?
A historical port town on the eastern side of the Japanese island of Hokkaido, Kushiro’s serene waters, sweeping mountains and abundant wildlife make it an idyllic spot for those yearning to escape the hustle and bustle of city life. The “City of Mist” is also an ideal location for summer visitors to Japan, with an average temperature of about 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius).
Wondering how you missed it? Jump on an hour-and-a-half flight from Tokyo to check out Kushiro’s hidden gems:
1. The Clearest Lake in Japan: Lake Mashu
The second clearest lake in the world (Russia’s Lake Baikal ranks first!) is Lake Mashu, located in Japan’s Akan National Park. A crater lake with a beautiful morning mist, its pristine blue waters provide a perfect mirror image of the sky and surrounding mountains. For a unique vantage point of the lake’s 212-meter depths, circle its circumference on a designated hiking trail toward the summit of Mount Mashudake, a 7,000-year-old volcanic peak on the lake’s western side. You can also look across the lake from two different observation decks.
2. A Birdwatcher’s Paradise: Kushiro Marshland
Japan’s Kushiro Marshland is home to the tancho crane, the only known population of endangered Japanese cranes, which can be viewed year-round. These red-crowned beauties live among the miles of evergreen wetlands, rivers and lakes that make up the national park. For prime views of the marshland and its regal fauna, visit the Akan International Crane Center for bird-feeding opportunities, or take a canoe ride down the Kushiro River for a more immersive experience. Seeking a spa opportunity? Visit one of Akan’s many onsen (hot springs) resorts, located along the Kushiro River. You might even catch some wildlife while you’re there, as some of the animals drink from the hot springs for their rich mineral content.
3. The Sashimi Lover’s Dream: Kushiro Washo Ichiba
Dip into the area’s delicious local fare with a visit to the Kushiro Washo Ichiba food market, one of the three biggest markets in Hokkaido. Home to 60 food stalls, you’ll find fresh seafood, meat, vegetables and uniquely Japanese meals. Kattedon, for example, is a rice donburi (or bowl) that customers top with their choice of fresh fish. And for the most unique eating experience, look for the vendors selling bear meat native to Hokkaido.