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Shiretoko / World Heritage Sites in Japan

A new heritage site just registered in 2005 The area features an ecological system with few equals in the world
Places:Shari-cho, Shari-gun / Rausu-cho, Menashi-gun, Hokkaido
Shiretoko, a new natural heritage site registered only in July 2005, is considered to be the last pristine wilderness remaining in Japan. Shiretoko is a long narrow peninsula located in northeastern Hokkaido.



The volcanic Shiretoko mountain range runs down the center of the peninsula and includes the highest peak of the range, Rausu-dake (1,661 m above sea level) and the active volcano Iouyama. The Sea of Okhotsk lies on the western side of the range and the Nemuro Straits on the eastern side. The coastline cliffs facing the Sea of Okhotsk rise up more than 100 m high, and you can glimpse waterfalls large and small cascading directly into the sea, and colonies of seabirds.

The salmon and trout that breed in the sea off Shiretoko are an important food resource supporting the terrestrial ecosystem with rare birds such as Blakiston's fish owl, Steller's sea eagle and the white-tailed sea eagle, as well as brown bears. The Shiretoko ecosystem is a dramatically clear example of the linkage between marine and terrestrial ecosystems, and it is considered an important wildlife reserve, with unique features unlike any other in the world.

Shiretoko, blessed with mountains, lakes and an abundance of plants and animals, offers many places of interest throughout the seasons. A good example is the Shiretoko Goko or Shiretoko Five Lakes, situated on a lava plateau surrounded by old-growth forest. The five lakes don't have individual names; they are referred to by number from Lake No. 1 to Lake No. 5. If you take a stroll along the walking trail (takes approximately 1 hour), you may see wild animals and will certainly enjoy the beauty of the changing seasons.

In the fall, when the mountains are adorned in red and yellow, the hoards of salmon and trout swarming up river to spawn are an incredible sight. In winter, there is also beautiful scenery as the drifting ice changes the Sea of Okhotsk into a white snowfield. There are various nature experience programs available at the site such as night tours for animal watching under wonderful starlit skies, daytime treks for alpine plant spotting while surrounded by birds singing, or nature watching enjoying waterfalls and wild animals while walking along the trail. It is highly recommended to contact Shiretoko Nature Center before departing.

*Shiretoko Nature Center
website available in Japanese only: http://www.shiretoko.or.jp/
Tel: 0152-24-2114/Fax: 0152-24-2115
E-mail: mat0946@shiretoko.or.jp

*Rausu Town
website available in Japanese only: http://www.aurens.or.jp/~rausukan/

*Shari Town Office Commerce and Tourism Section
Japanese website: http://www.town.shari.hokkaido.jp/shiretoko/

By TS on Feb 4, 2011

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