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Eastern Hokkaido in Winter
A Local Train Journey
Senmo Main Line : Kushiro-Shibecha-Kawayu Onsen-Abashiri
SL Fuyu-no-Shitsugen Train Ryuhyo Monogatari Train
Hanasaki Line : Kushiro-Akkeshi-Nemuro
Senmo Main Line : Kushiro-Shibecha-Kawayu Onsen-Abashiri
SL Fuyu-no-Shitsugen Train
Ryuhyo Monogatari Train
Hanasaki Line : Kushiro-Akkeshi-Nemuro
Model/Writer Profile
Zoe Leung
Zoe is a writer for Like Japan, a popular online media platform that offers information about Japan to the Hong Kong market. Born in Hong Kong, she went to Japan to attend a Japanese language school before entering the School of Global Japanese Studies in Meiji University. She graduated in 2017 and worked in television production before joining Like Japan. Her hobbies include travel, photography, gourmet hunting, and watching movies.
All aboard the SL Fuyu-no-Shitsugen Train
All aboard the SL Fuyu-no-Shitsugen Train
Kushiro Washo Market
This is the place to be if you want to enjoy the fresh seafood of Kushiro! This market is famous for “Katte-don”, a bowl of rice topped with sashimi which you can choose by yourself to make your very own seafood bowl.
Kurogane-cho 13-25, Kushiro-shi
Jan to Mar 8:00-17:00
Apr to Dec 8:00-18:00
*Sun 8:00-16:00
(Closed on Sun except from Apr 28 to Oct 27)
Nusamai Bridge
Kushiro is said to be one of the three best places in the world to see the sunset, and the sunset view at Nusamai Bridge is especially magnificent. Many photographers gather here especially during autumn and winter when the air is crisper.
Kita-odori 1-chome, Kushiro-shi
Kushiro Fisherman's Wharf MOO
A tourist facility where you can buy fresh seafood and souvenirs. Located right beside Nusamai Bridge on the banks of the Kushiro River, it’s a great place to take a stroll or enjoy shopping.
Nishiki-cho 2-4, Kushiro-shi
1F Shopping Zone 10:00-19:00
*Jul to Aug: 9:00-19:00, Dec 31/Jan 2-3: 10:00-17:00
2F/3F Restaurant Zone 11:00-22:00
*Dec 31: 11:00-15:00
Closed on Jan 1
SL Fuyu-no-Shitsugen Train
Photo by Senmo Main Line Usage Promotion Council
The SL Fuyu-no-Shitsugen is a steam locomotive that runs between Kushiro and Shibecha stations from late January to late February. Many photographers come to capture a shot of the train running with a thick plume of smoke. You can roast dried squid on the potbelly stove inside the train.
Get off at Kushiro Shitsugen Station and head to the Hosooka Observatory to enjoy a panoramic view of the Kushiro Marsh.You might get to see tancho cranes from the train’s windows.
Shibecha Station → Kawayu Onsen
East Hokkaido Express Bus No. 8
Get off at Shibecha Station and get on board the Express Bus No. 8. At the Fujihana Onsen Hotel located 5 minutes on foot from Shibecha Station, you can buy a retort pouch curry with Hoshizora Black Beef.
An active volcano where you can see sulfurous steam vents up close. At the nearby rest house, you can buy a hot spring boiled egg which you can easily peel using tape!
Teshikaga Town
Kawayu Onsen
Take a rest from your travels at one of the lodgings in Kawayu Onsen. Here you can enjoy hot spring baths that make your skin silky smooth.
Kawayu Onsen, Teshikaga Town
Foot Bath
The Kawayu Onsen Station has a foot bath which you can enjoy for free. It’s a great place to relax while waiting for your train!
Diamond Dust in KAWAYU
An event held every night from early to late February at Kawayu Onsen. On days when the temperature goes below -10℃, you can see ice crystals sparkling in the air, a phenomenon known as “diamond dust”.
Inquiries 015-482-2200
Orchard Glass
At this restaurant in the Kawayu Onsen Station, you can enjoy a special beef stew and coffee brewed with hot spring water.
Kawayu Ekimae 1-1-14, Teshikaga-cho
May to Oct 10:00-18:00
Nov to Apr 10:00-16:00
Irregular closed days
Visit Abashiri onboard the Senmo Main Line
Visit Abashiri onboard the Senmo Main Line
Enjoy the winter scenery around Kawayu Onsen in Teshikaga Town
The trees turn white when they get covered in hoarfrost. View it up close and you’ll see the tiny ice crystals.
Hundreds of swans gather at Lake Kussharo from late November to April. It’s also famous for a spot where you can dig the sand to make your own hot spring.
Abashiri Bus → Okhotsk Ryuhyo Museum
The Abashiri Bus goes around the tourist spots of Abashiri City. You can also make use of a convenient 1-Day Pass.

1-Day Pass (with perks): Adults ¥800/Children ¥400
Sold at Abashiri Station, Ryuhyo-Kaido Abashiri Roadside Station, etc.
Enjoy a panoramic view of the Okhotsk Sea, Lake Abashiri, and Lake Notoro from the 3F Observatory. Try the delicious Ryuhyo soft-serve ice cream made by a famous Abashiri gelato maker. Make a wet towel freeze instantly in the -15℃ Drift Ice Experience Room!
Tentozan 244-3, Abashiri-shi
May to Oct 8:30-18:00 (last entry 17:30)
Nov to Apr 9:00-16:30 (last entry 16:00)
Dec 29 to Jan 5 10:00-15:00 (last entry 14:30)
Fee Adults ¥750
Ryuhyo-Kaido Abashiri Roadside Station
A place to buy local specialties including the blue-colored Ryuhyo Draft beer, various seafood snacks and dairy products. This place is also the port for the Icebreaker Ship Aurora, so it’s the perfect spot to buy snacks before your cruise.
Minami 3-jo Higashi 4-chome, Abashiri-shi
Apr to Oct 9:00-18:30
Nov to Mar 9:00-18:00
Abashiri Drift Ice Sightseeing Icebreaker Ship Aurora
See the drift ice up close and hear the intense crunching sounds as the ship powers through the sea covered in white. You can also enjoy the view from the ship’s heated cabin.
Minami 3-jo Higashi 4-chome, Abashiri-shi
Abashiri Prison Museum
Constructed over 100 years ago, this museum features buildings that have been designated as Important Cultural Properties of Japan. It has also been featured in a recent popular manga.
This place feels like a holy site.
Aza Yobito 1-1, Abashiri-shi
May to Sep 8:30-18:00
Oct to Apr 9:00-17:00
Fee Adults ¥1,000(tax excl.)
Experience more of Abashiri
Lake Abashiri Smelt Fishing
Try fishing for smelt on the frozen surface of Lake Abashiri. You can cook the fish as tempura and enjoy it on the spot!
Time: ①8:20~ (2 hours) ②14:20~ (2 hours)
Fee: Adults ¥4,000/Children ¥3,000
(Includes fishing fee, equipment rental, and tempura cooking fee)
Meeting point: Within Abashiri City (hotel pick-up available)
Reservation: Until 20:00 the previous day (or the same day if available)
Inquiries: 0152-46-2777
Horse Trekking
Go on a horseback riding course that even beginners and children can enjoy. You can also admire magnificent views of the Okhotsk Sea.
Course 1: Short Riding Experience
Time: Approx. 10 mins
Fee: ¥1,000
Pickup: Not available
Course 2: Forest Riding Course
Time: Approx. 20 mins
Fee: ¥3,000
Pickup: Available (please inquire)
Inquiries: 0152-46-2121
Abashiri Moyoro Hot Pot
A local hot pot that features Okhotsk seafood, including Okhotsk Salmon and minced fish cooked in special earthenware. Every restaurant has its own variation, so you can try to find your favorite one!
See the Okhotsk Sea onboard the Ryuhyo Monogatari Train
See the Okhotsk Sea onboard the Ryuhyo Monogatari Train
Ryuhyo Monogatari Train
The Ryuhyo Monogatari Train runs along the coast of the Okhotsk Sea, offering you a unique view of the drift ice. It runs from early February to early March with special limited edition blue and white train cars. The trip going to Shiretoko-Shari makes a 10-minute stop at Kitahama Station, letting you view the vast sea from an observation deck, while the trip to Abashiri lets you go shopping at Hama-Koshimizu Station.
Kitahama Station
The train from Abashiri to Shiretoko-Shari stops at Kitahama where you can go up an observation deck. See the beautiful contrast of the blue sky and the white drift ice-covered sea. You can also see the faraway Shiretoko mountains on clear days.
Drift Ice Walk
Early Feb to early Mar. Take a walk on top of the drift ice, or float with them in the ice-cold sea. It’s a truly unique experience!
Shiretoko Drift Ice Festival
An event to experience the beauty and bitter cold of winter. See ice domes and ice art, or warm yourself up with a hot drink beside a bonfire. Held from late January to the end of February.
Period: 2019 Jan 30 (Wed) to Feb 28 (Thu)
Inquiries: 0152-22-2125 (Shiretoko Shari Tourist Association)
Utoro Shirietoku Roadside Station
This building resembles a traditional fisherman’s house, and features a restaurant and souvenir shop. Make sure to try the seafood rice bowl of the day.
Utoro-nishi 186-8, Shari-cho
May to Oct 8:30-18:30
Nov to Apr 9:00-17:00
Restaurant 10:00-15:00
Hanasaki Crab at Nemuro
You can enjoy Hanasaki crabs at various restaurants by ordering them in advance. You can also buy them fresh at specialty shops near the station and ask a restaurant to cook it for you. Don't forget to also try the Pacific saury sashimi!
Experience great nature on the Hanasaki Line
Experience great nature on the Hanasaki Line
Nemuro Sunrise at Cape Nosappu
Cape Nosappu is the easternmost point of Japan, and the place to see the earliest sunrise in the country. You won’t regret waking up early to see this impressive sight. Buses don’t operate this early, so you have to use a rental car or book a taxi.
Sunrise times :
Winter solstice (Dec 22) around 6:50
Summer solstice (Jun 22) around 3:40
JR Hanasaki Line → Akkeshi Station
The Hanasaki Line runs a 2 hour 20 minute route between Nemuro and Kushiro. This leisurely ride lets you enjoy changing scenes of nature. At the Bekkanbeushi Marsh, you might get to see tancho cranes, grey herons, or swans. On certain trips, you can download a free app that gives multilingual audio guidance as you pass by places of interest. Make sure to get your cameras ready too!
※ Please use earphones when using the audio guidance app.
Akkeshi Gourmet Park Roadside Station Conchiglie
Akkeshi is a town famous for oysters. Get off at Akkeshi Station and visit the Akkeshi Gourmet Park Roadside Station Conchiglie or the A-Uroko shop to have your fill of the fresh and succulent oysters. Choose and grill your own food at Aburiya, or enjoy the stylish food and atmosphere of Oyster Bar Pittoresque. Try the popular Oyster Bucket (¥1,500) filled with 10 oysters at Aburiya. Try adding a dash of Akkeshi whisky, a local way to enjoy the fresh oysters.
Suminoe 2-2, Akkeshi-cho
Apr to Oct 9:00-21:00
Nov to Dec 10:00-19:00
Jan to Mar 10:00-18:00
Closed on Mon (except on public holidays)
Sample Package Tours (by JR Hokkaido)
※Visit the JR Hokkaido homepage for details.