Shiretoko, Lake Mashu, Lake Akan and Kushiro Marsh 4 days sample trip plan. Eastern Hokkaido 4-day highlights

drift ice shiretoko
Shiretoko mountains in the winter time

I will show you 4-day sample trip plan of the eastern Hokkaido from Sapporo. This trip plan covers these following spots:

✔ Abashiri
✔ Shiretoko Five lakes
✔ Shiretoko cruise
✔ Kushiro Marshland
✔ Lake Akan
✔ Lake Mashu
✔ Lake Kussharo

Overview

4-day trip route map
The blank map provided by CraftMAP

On day 1, go to Abashiri and enjoy city sightseeing or Lake Notoro (late August to mid September) or Icebreaker tour (mid February to early March) .

On day 2, move to Shiretoko. Visit Shiretoko Five Lakes and take a sightseeing cruise.

On day 3, move to Kushiro and enjoy ride Kushiro Norokko train or SL Fuyu no Shitsugen train (winter).

On day 4, enjoy one day sightseeing bus tour and move back to Sapporo.

JR Pass, Hokkaido Rail Pass and Furano Biei Rail Ticket covers most part of this trip.

Day 1, Sapporo – Abashiri

On the first day of trip, you will take the limited express Okhotsk from Sapporo to Abashiri and spend the rest of the day in Abashiri.

Itinerary

TimePlace and transporation
06:56Sapporo station
(The limited express Okhotsk 1)
12:18Abashiri station

You will take the limited express train to Abashiri and spend the rest of the day in Abashiri.

You have three options in Abashiri. Please see the below to check the highlights.

Highlight

Prison Museum

This old building was moved from the former prison.

The Abashiri Prison opened in 1890. Abashir was very isolated at that time and this prison held more than one thousands dangerous prisoners. This prison became well known by the Yakuza (Japanese gang) movie.

A part of the old prison was moved to this current location and opens as a museum.

Stay overnight in Abashiri

Lake Notoro glasswort watching (late August to mid September)

If you go to Abashiri in early fall season, you may visit Lake Notoro to see fall color of glassworts. It is only 15 minutes away from Abashiri by a local bus. The scenery is breathtaking.

13:36Abashiri station bus stop
(Abashiri bus)
13:54 / 15:03Sangosou Iriguchi bus stop
(Abashiri bus)
15:21Abashiri station bus stop

A one way bus fare is 530 yen. Only cash is accepted.

Drift Ice watching (Ryuhyo)

Icebreaker ship takes you to the ocean which covered by ices.

The drift ice watching tour is most popular attraction from the late January to the early Marh. You can watch the ices from the shore when these ices reach the coastline. But most popular way is taking an icebreaker ship to watch it on the water.

The fare is 3,500 yen and the trip time is about 1 hour. You can watch the ice at the highest chance from early February to early March. But the season has been getting shotrer in these years due to the global warming.

I traveled from Abashiri to Shiretoko in February, 2020 just before COVID-19 outbreak. Please find the movie below how I traveled there:

Day 2, Abashiri – Shiretoko

On the second day of trip, you will take a local train from Abashiri and change to the bus for Shiretoko. You will watch most of major places in Shiretoko Peninsula.

Itinerary

TimePlace and transporation
06:41Abashiri station
(JR Senmo line local train)
07:22 / 08:40Shiretoko-Shari station / Shari Bus Terminal
Shiretoko Roman Fureai Gou bus tour A
Drop by Oshin Koshin Falls
09:50 / 10:05Utoro Onsen Bus Terminal
Shiretoko Roman Fureai Gou bus tour B
Visit Shiretoko Pass and Shiretoko Five Lakes
14:10 / 14:30Utoro Onsen Bus Terminal / Utoro harbour
Shiretoko Kamuiwakka falls sightseeing Cruise
16:00Utoro harbour

If you visit these in the winter time, the sightseeing bus tours are not available. But you can visit Shiretoko by a scheduled local bus. And you can participate the winter activity, such as walking on the drift ice.

Highlight

Shiretoko Five Lakes

Shiretoko Five Lakes are accessible in the summer time only.

Shiretoko Five Lakes are located in the middle of Shiretoko Peninsula. You can walk on the board walk and anyone can access there easily.

Kamuiwakka Fall

Kamuiwakka fall can be seen from the boat only.

The east part of Shiretoko Peninsula is isolated. There is no ground access route. You must take a boat to see the scenery. Kamuiwakka Fall is one of highlights in this area. You can enjoy 1.5 hour boat tour to visit this area.

Day 3, Shiretoko – Kushiro Marshland – Kushiro

Kushiro Shitsugen Norokko train goes through Kushiro marsh. (C) 640px-Kushiro_shitugen_norokko_train / 欅
Kushiro Shitsugen Norokko train goes through Kushiro Marshland. You can take this train on weekends, holidays and summer peak season. (C) 640px-Kushiro_shitugen_norokko_train / 欅

On the third day of trip, you will move to Kushiro from Shiretoko.

Itinerary

TimePlace and transporation
09:30Utoro Onsen Bus Terminal
(Shari Bus)
10:20 / 11:11Shiretoko-Shari station / Shari Bus Terminal
(JR Senmo line rapid train)
13:01 / 14:48Toro station
Sightseeing train Kushiro Shitsugen Norokko Train
*This train runs in the summer peak season only.
When it’s not available, do not get off the rapid train at Toro.
Keep riding on it until you get to Kushiro at 13:33.
15:36Kushiro station

You will take the limited express train to Abashiri and spend the rest of the day in Abashiri. You have three options in Abashiri. Please see the below to check the highlights.

Highlight

Kushiro Shitsugen Norokko Train or SL Fuyu no Sitsugen Train

Kushiro Shitsugen Norokko Train run on weekends and holidays from late April to October. And it usually operates many more days in the late July and August.

If you travel in the winter time, you can take SL Fuyu no Shitsugen Train. This train is operated by the old style carrigage with a steam locomotive. This train usually runs on weekends and holidays from late January to early March. If you take this train, the schedule is the following:

10:20 / 11:11Shiretoko-Shari station / Shari Bus Terminal
(JR Senmo line rapid train)
12:39 /14:00Shibecha station
(SL Fuyu no Shitsugen Train)
15:40Kushiro station

Day 4, Kushiro – Akan National Park – Kushiro – Sapporo

Kushiro Marshland
Kushiro Marshland from the Hokuto Viewpoint

On the last day of the trip, you will participate the sightseeing bus to visit Lake Akan, Lake Mashu, Lake Kussharo and Kushiro Marshland. It is impossible to visit all these places by your own except renting a car. The public transportation runs infrequently. The sightseeing bus is the best solution. The bus usually operates in both summer and winter seasons.

Itinerary

TimePlace and transporation
08:00Kushiro station
Sightseeing Bus “Pirika”
visit Kushiro Marshland Viewpoint, Lake Mashu,
Mt. Iou, Lake Kussharo, Lake Akan
16:55 / 19:00Kushiro station
(The limited express Super Ozora 12)
22:58Sapporo station

Highlight

Akan National Park

Lake Akan, Lake Mashu and Lake Kussharo are cold “Doutou Sanko” which means three lakes in eastern Hokkaido. You can get off the bus at these three lakes. The bus tour includes Kushiro Marshland and Mt. Iou (Sulphur mountain) too.

lake mashu
Lake Mashu is the second clearest lake in the world.
Mt Iou
Mt. Iou
lake akan
Lake Akan and Meakandake mountain

Travel cost

All train trips are covered by JR Pass, Hokkaido Rail Pass or Peach Higashi Hokkaido Free Pass. The local bus trips, the sightseeing bus rides and the admission fees are extra.

Please see the table below to find the cost breakdown:

TripCost
The limited express Okhotsk from Sapporo to AbashiriCovered
The local bus for the round trip to Abashiri Prison Museum480 yen
Admission fee for Abashiri Prison Museum1,080 yen
JR Senmo line rapid trainCovered
Shiretoko Roman Fureai Gou course A (Sightseeing bus)1,800 yen
Shiretoko Roman Fureai Gou course B (Sightseeing bus)3,200 yen
Shiretoko Kamuiwakka Falls sightseeing cruise3,300 yen
Shari Bus from Utoro Onsen to Shari1,650 yen
Sightseeing Bus Pirika4,600 yen
Total cost16,110 yen
These costs are based on the summer trip plan.

Accommodations and meals are not included.

Summary

The summer season is the best season to do this trip plan. But you can use this trip plan in the winter time too. The drift ice season is very popular too.

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

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