|Schauwecker's Japan Travel Blog|
by Stefan Schauwecker, webmaster of japan-guide.com
This blog is intended to record some of my travel activities in Japan.
2008/10/08 - Shiretoko Peninsula
On the final day of our 3-day autumn leaf report trip through Eastern Hokkaido, we visited the Shiretoko Peninsula, a World Natural Heritage Site and one of Japan's wildest and most beautiful national parks.
Our first stop was Furepe Waterfall, accessed in an easy 20 minute walk from the Shiretoko Nature Center. The coastal scenery was spectacular as always, but the walk did not offer too much in terms of autumn colors.
We then visited the Shiretoko Five Lakes (Shiretoko Goko). There were some colorful trees along the walking trails, but we were more moved by the beauty of the lakes and the surrounding scenery. As is often the case, three of the five lakes were off limit due to recent bear activity.
The drive over Shiretoko Pass (Shiretoko Toge) finally satisfied our hunger for autumn colors. Currently at their best, the colors covering the slopes of Mount Rausu were spectacular.
But rather than enjoying the ocean of autumn colors only from the road, we ventured a little bit into the wilderness of the national park by following the little known hiking trail to Lake Rausu.
The trail starts from near the height of Shiretoko Pass and leads for three kilometers through valleys, over hills, across marshlands and past five ponds to Lake Rausu, an unspoilt mountain lake surrounded by some peaks of the Shiretoko mountain range.
The trail to Lake Rausu must be a joy during any time of the hiking season, but in combination with the autumn leaves it was just breathtaking. Adding to the experience was the fact that we did not encounter a single other person along the way.
The absence of crowds, which accompany most other places of autumnal beauty in Japan, is probably due to the trail's difficult accessibility (infrequent buses, almost no parking space). Furthermore, the trail was rather muddy and slippery in some passages.
Shiretoko Pass and the hike to Lake Rausu were a highlight of our autumn color reports so far. If just the weather had been a little bit more favorable...