The Kushiro Marshland (H, Kushiro Shitsugen) in Hokkaido was designated as a national park in 1987 in order to preserve the country's largest wetland and marsh habitat which supports the only known population of endangered Japanese Cranes in Japan.

The park is located between Kushiro and Akan National Park and can be visited when traveling between the two. The park does not receive much snowfall, even in winter, and offers bird watching, nature viewing and walking trails. The cranes can be viewed year round, attracting many photographers.

Japanese Cranes (Tancho, lit. "red head") were thought to be extinct in Japan due to overhunting and habitat destruction. However, in 1926 a group of about 20 birds was discovered in the marshes around Kushiro. With conservation efforts they have since made a dramatic recovery and now number more than 1000 birds.

The cranes are most spectacular to watch as they dance, often in pairs, with seemingly choreographed dips and jumps. They are best seen in the winter as they gather at feeding sites. These sites are best accessed by car, but can also be reached by public transportation.

A couple of the other ways to enjoy the marshland from the inside are to go on a walk along the walking trails or join a canoe or kayak tour that goes down the distributaries of the Kushiro River in the marshland. These activities are typically available around the year and offer a different perspective of the national park.


  • Akan International Crane Center
    Hours: 9:00 to 17:00
    Closed: No closing days
    Admission: 480 yen (includes Tancho Observation Center)
  • Kushiro City Marsh Observatory
    Hours: 8:30 to 18:00 (Apr to Oct), 9:00 to 17:00 (Nov to Mar)
    Closed: New Year holidays
    Admission: 480 yen

Feeding stations

These are open from November to March to offset food shortages of the colder winter months. Visitors can watch the feedings which are once or twice a day depending on the station. Feeding times are the best times to see groups of cranes together.

  • Tancho Observation Center
    Hours: 8:30 to 16:00 (until 16:30 in February and March)
    Closed: April to October
    Admission: 480 yen (includes Akan International Crane Center)
  • Tsurui Ito Tancho Sanctuary
  • Tsuruimidai

Winter roosting grounds

  • Otowa Bridge


The landscape of Kushiro Shitsugen National Park can be viewed from various viewpoints around the park.

  • Kushiro Shitsugen Viewpoint
    This viewpoint can be reached in about 15 to 20 minutes by a (wheelchair accessible) boardwalk path from the Kushiro City Marsh Observatory. There are numerous paths in the area, some of which lead down to the edge of the marsh.

  • Hokuto Viewpoint
    This viewpoint is located right beside Route 53 and offers unobstructed views of the park. It is accessible by car or bus.

  • Hosooka Viewpoint
    Located on the eastern edge of the park, this viewpoint is especially beautiful at sunset. It can be accessed by car or by a diesel train from Kushiro Station (10 minute walk from Kushiroshitsugen Station).

Getting there and around

A rental car is the easiest way to get around the park as public transportation is limited and infrequent. Rental outlets are available at Kushiro Airport and in the city center. It is possible to reach most of Kushiro's sites by public transportation, although a few, such as the Otowa Bridge roosting area, can only be reached by car.

To the Akan International Crane Center

There are 3-4 buses per day that run from Kushiro Station via Kushiro Airport (45 minutes, 950 yen) and the Akan International Crane Center ("Tancho no Sato" bus stop, 70 minutes, 1480 yen) and continue on to Lake Akan (2 hours, 2750 yen).

To the Kushiro City Marsh Observatory, Tsurumidai and the Tsurui Ito Tancho Sanctuary

There are 5-6 buses per day from Kushiro Station to the Kushiro City Marsh Observatory ("Shitsugen Tenbodai" bus stop, 40 minutes, 690 yen), Tsurumidai (55 minutes, 1020 yen) and Tsurui Village (65 minutes, 1280 yen). The Tsurui Ito Tancho Sanctuary is located in Tsurui Village, a 15 minute walk from the "Tsurui Chugakko" bus stop.

To Hosooka Viewpoint

The JR Senmo Line runs from Kushiro Station to Kushiroshitsugen Station (20 minutes, 440 yen) and continues on to Akan National Park and Abashiri. The Hosooka Viewpoint is a ten minute walk from the station up the hill past the parking lot.

How to get to and around Kushiro