Shiretoko (World heritage)
Shiretoko is one of the most remote areas of all Japan.
The national park has no sizable settlements, and the northern portion
of the peninsula does not even have any roads. Peak visiting season is
during the short summer season; the park is open all year round, but the
conditions in winter can be very harsh.
One of the most remote regions in all of Japan, much of the peninsula
is only accessible on foot or by boat. The park is best known as the home
of Japan's largest brown bear population and for offering views of Kunashiri
Island, ownership of which Japan and Russia dispute.
The forests of the park are temperate and subalpine mixed forests; the
main tree species include Sakhalin fir (Abies sachalinensis), Erman's
birch (Betula ermanii) and Mongolian oak (Quercus mongolica). Beyond the
forest limit there are impenetrable Siberian Dwarf Pine (Pinus pumila)
thickets. The closest railway station to the national park is JR Shiretoko
Shari Station in the center of Shari Town, about 40 kilometers southwest
of the national park. Shiretoko Shari Station can be reached in 40 minutes
from Abashiri (840 yen one way) or in about 2.5 hours from Kushiro (2810
yen one way) by infrequently operating trains. The approach from Sapporo
via Abashiri takes about 6-7 hours and costs around 11,000 yen.