Shiretoko peninsula, Hokkaido access guide

Shiretoko Pass is the highlight of Shiretoko peninsula. (C) JNTO
Shiretoko Pass is the highlight of Shiretoko peninsula. (C) JNTO

Shiretoko is one of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Japan. There are falls, lakes and onsen. Shiretoko is one of the best place to enjoy the nature of Hokkaido. I will share the information about access Shiretoko.

Introduction


View How to get Shiretoko in a larger map

Utoro is the biggest town in Shiretoko peninsula. Most of tourists stay overnight there and visit Shiretoko five lakes, falls and enjoy outdoor activities. Rausu is located at the other side of peninsula. You can visit there if you like. Both Utoro and Rausu are connected by bus but it runs summer time only. This road is closed in winter time.

Access from Abashiri via Shiretoko-Shari

Shiretoko cannot be accessed by only train trip. The nearest station is Shiretoko-Shari. Both JR Pass and Hokkaido Rail Pass cover the trip to Shiretoko-Shari. But after arrival at Shiretoko-Shari, you have to take the bus and this bus is not covered by any rail passes.

Shiretoko-Shari is 40 minutes away from Abashiri by JR Senmo line local train. You can take Limited express Okhotsk to get Abashiri or Taisetsu from Sapporo.

Access to Abashiri from Sapporo. Limited Express Okhotsk / Taisetsu

You can find the train timetable of both Limited Express Okhotsk and Senmo line local train at JR Hokkaido official site:

JR Hokkaido official site

You can find the timetable of bus for Shiretoko-Shari to/from Utoro in the link below. Utoro is one of the bases in Shiretoko peninsula.

Shari bus timetable (PDF)

You also can find the timetable of tourist bus. This is a guided bus for overseas tourist. You can visit Shiretoko as day trip by this bus service.

Shari bus English information

Access from Kushiro

You can take JR Senmo line local train from Kushiro to get Shiretoko-Shari. Limited Express Super Ozora connects Sapporo and Kushiro.

Access to Kushiro and Obihiro from Sapporo. Limited Express Super Ozora / Super Tokachi

You also can access Rausu in Shiretoko from Kushiro by bus directly. However the destination is Rausu. Rausu is located at southside of Shiretoko peninsula.

Unfortunately the timetable of the bus service between Kushiro and Rausu is available in Japanese only. You can find it in the link below:

Akan Bus route between Kushiro and Rausu

I hope this post helps you to build your trip plan to Shiretoko.

30 thoughts on “Shiretoko peninsula, Hokkaido access guide”

  1. Hi Takeshi,

    If I plan to go to Shiretoko in early November, do you know any bus that I can take? From sharibus website, it only runs until the end of October. or do you have any idea where to go from Asahikawa in early November? I have 2.5 days in Asahikawa, plan to visit Sounkyo for day 1, Biei for day 2, maybe skip Furano because some website said that it’s not worth it to visit in November. which one better in early November, Shiretoko or Wakkanai? I don’t have any licence to drive, so a rental car without a driver is not an option, I really depend on public transportation. Do you have any idea?

    Thanks for your feedback.

    1. Hi Diana,

      The bus to Shiretoko runs in even winter time. The following link shows you the timetable of this past winter.
      http://www.sharibus.co.jp/pdf/2018_siretoko.pdf

      It’s hard to say about Shiretoko or Wakkanai. November is a transition season. It may be snowing in some area. It may be too late to see fall foliage in central, eastern and northern Hokkaido. Those are Asahikawa, Abashiri, Shiretoko and Wakkanai. Please expect that it will be winter. But it may be just cold and chilly, and you may not be able to see snow.

      Honestly Sapporo, Otaru, Noboribetsu, Lake Toya and Hakodate may be better to visit in November. Because you still may able to see some fall scenery in these places.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      1. Hi Takeshi, thanks for the feedback 🙂
        Actually, I have this plan from Sapporo:
        31 Oct: Noboribetsu
        1 Nov: Lake toya
        2 Nov: Hakodate
        3 Nov: day trip to Otaru from Sapporo (is it worth to also include Niseko for my day trip?)
        4 Nov: around Sapporo, then go to Sounkyo onsen
        5 Nov: Sounkyo (Daisetsuzan national park)
        6 Nov: any idea?
        7 Nov: go to Biei and after that go to Shin Chitose airport

        so based on your opinion, before I decide to explore around Asahikawa – Biei – Sapporo, if I still want to visit Shiretoko five lakes, what’s the expectation that I can see there in early November? is it still worth to visit? because the train to reach Shiretoko nor Wakkanai from Asahikawa already takes more than 3 hours.

        Thank you once again 🙂

        1. Hi Diana,

          In my opinion, both Shiretoko and Wakkanai are too far to visit as day trip from Sounkyo or Asahikawa. Especially Shrietoko is way far. Even if you take the first train from Asahikawa, your arrival time in Shiretoko is late afternoon. You cannot go back. You can make a day trip to Wakkanai but I think it’s not worth spending 7 hours on the train. I think just staying in Asahikawa is the best option. Otherwise you may visit Biei on 6th and spending time in Asahikawa on the last day.

          Cheers,

          Takeshi / JPRail.com

  2. Hi Takeshi,
    I plan to visit Rausu for sea watching in coming mid February . Starting from KUSHIRO to RAUSU, I have JR pass. What would you recommend me The transportation.
    Thanks,
    Hung Hoang from California

  3. Hi, I’m planning to go to Shiretoko Five lake on this early October. I’ve booked a hotel in Shari. And I’m planning to go by public transport.
    Do you think is it possible to have a day trip using public transport bus from Shari to Shiretoko Five Lake and taking natural pathway tour then go back to Shari?
    Do you know how much the bus will cost me?

    Thank you very much,
    Arlene

    1. Hi Arlene,

      It is possible. If you take a regular tourist bus, it costs 1000 yen each for Shari to/from Utoro, Utoro-Five Lakes-Utoro. So it costs total 3000 yen.
      http://www.uu-hokkaido.com/corporate/sharibus.shtml

      If you want more flexibility, you can take a regular scheduled bus.
      http://www.sharibus.co.jp/pdf/2017-04-P1.pdf

      Bus fare is 1650 yen for Shari – Utoro, 700 yen for Utoro – Five Lakes and 2000 yen for Shari – Five Lakes. It is higher than the regular tourist bus.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      1. Hi Takeshi,

        Thank you very much for replying.
        I’m really confused with all the public transport in Shiretoko. You are really helping me here.

        So you recommend the cheaper way to go to shiretoko five lake is by using the regular tourist bus?

        I’ve tried to open the http://www.uu-hokkaido.com/corporate/sharibus.shtml
        To be honest I’m kinda confused reading the website. So if I go with regular tourist bus do I have to take Course A (Shari > Utoro) then Course B (Utoro > Shiretoko Area > Utoro) then Course C (Utoro>Shari)? Correct me if I’m wrong. Because I kinda confused with the website.

        And I can’t find the timetable. Are there only one tourist bus per day?

        Are the people in Shari Bus Station and Utoro Station able to speak English?
        Are we able to buy a ticket in Shari Station? Or do we need to do reservation from the website?

        Thank you very much,
        Arlene

        1. Hi Arlene,

          I did not recommend you to use the regular tourist bus. If you take this bus, your schedule will be fixed. It is totally up to you.
          I gave two links. You can find the timetable of the regular bus (not regular tourist bus) in the second line. It is written in Japanese mostly but you can find the bus stop name in English.

          Cheers,

          Takeshi / JPRail.com

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