Introducing places of interest: Rishiri-Rebun-Sarobetsu National Park
West coastal area: a coastline extending in a straight line
The coastline extending across great distances between the Teshio River and Wakkanai represents a beautiful landscape that can be seen nowhere else. To your right are sand dune forests of Quercus crispula Blume (oak) and Abies sachalinensis (fir) trees while to your left are expansive fields of Lilium maculatum subsp. Dauricum, Coelopleurum lucidum L. var. Gmelini, sweetbriar, and other flowering plants embedded along the coast against the backdrop of Mt. Rishiri-Fuji and Rebun Island rising over the sea in the distance. Parking lots and resting stations have been installed in the Hamayuchi area of Wakkanai City, the Wakasakanai area of Toyotomi Town, and elsewhere. Visitors to Hamayuchi can savor a variety of wetland flowers, including the spatterdock and other aquatic plants as well as the purple loosestrife that grows in the vicinity. The spectacle of magnificent white-tailed eagles flying amid dried hay rolls punctuating pasturelands in surrounding areas is certainly something to behold.
Sarobetsu Moor: natural grandeur of Hokkaido
The land area of the Sarobetsu Plain measures approximately 20,000 hectares. An area equivalent in twice the size of the area encircled within Tokyo's Yamanote loop line could be placed end to end in a north-south direction and still be fully encompassed within this place. While visitors cannot freely walk about inside the Sarobetsu Moor, portions of it can be explored by tracing the wooden walking trails that have been built throughout different parts of this environment. Wooden walking trails for exploring wetlands have been installed in the upper end of the Sarobetsu Plain in Toyotomi Town, the lower end of the Sarobetsu Plain in Horonobe Town, and elsewhere. Enhance your enjoyment of a walk through this moor by first dropping by a visitor center and learning about the history of this moor, the wildlife that can be found here, and the issues and problems that this area is facing before you enter the moor. Heathberry plants blossom to mark the spring thaw; Sanguisorba tenuifolia var. alba plants flower until the end of September; and cotton grass, bog rosemary, Amur daylily, and many more varieties of flowering plants grow and blossom in different seasons. Take pleasure in the sight of myriad small flowers flourishing in the vast landscape of Sarobetsu.
Sand dunes, lakes, and marshes: Catch a glimpse of life amid a harsh natural environment
The Quercus crispula Blume (oak) trees that grow in sand dunes forests with their branches pointing inland are curved due to strong seasonal winds and stand as testament to the severe weather to which this area is exposed. The Penke and Panke marshes serve as breeding grounds for red-necked grebes, mallards, and other species of waterfowl. In particular, an unsurpassed landscape of wonder is formed in the fall when thousands of bean geese arrive during the migration season. Visitors can also trace the footprints of the Japanese sable and other nocturnal species in snowy fields and by the water's edge. Opportunities to delve into the lives of animals await your arrival.
Mt. Rishiri: Ideal for climbers as well as for those who wish to admire scenic views
Affectionately referred to as Mt. Rishiri-Fuji due to its striking resemblance in form to Mt. Fuji, Mt. Rishiri rises 1,721 meters above sea level as the symbolic heart of Rishiri-Rebun-Sarobetsu National Park. It is a breathtakingly beautiful peak that is ideal for climbers as well as for those who wish to admire scenic views.
For climbers: The summit commands a magnificent view of Sakhalin in the distance
There are two mountain-climbing courses that can be taken on Mt. Rishiri: the Oshidomari Course and the Kutsugata Course. It can be aptly said that the summit commands magnificent views of the base of the mountain as well as the main island of Hokkaido and Sakhalin in the distance. From the middle of July to the beginning of August, climbers can behold many beautiful species of alpine vegetation, including colonies of Trollius riederianus var. pulcher and lovely Papaver fauriei Fedde (poppy) plants growing near the summit.
Parts of the mountain-climbing courses on Mt. Rishiri are prone to collapse or hazards. Rules for the preservation of the environment, such as with respect to the use of portable toilets, are also applicable on Mt. Rishiri.
For those who wish to admire scenic views: Rishiri-Fuji is a peak of many faces
Used since olden days as a navigational marker for seafarers, Mt. Rishiri is a solitary peak protruding above the sea. Its fine-featured pyramidal outline is such that, when seen from afar, the entire island appears to have risen out of the sea as if reaching towards its summit. If you were to travel fully around the periphery of the island, whose circumference measures approximately 60 kilometers in total distance, you might come to realize that the mountain tends to repeatedly appear and disappear, at each stage revealing a different aspect of itself. Mr. Rishiri boasts a gracefully expanding base and a form defined by bold contours of sharp ridges. While an observatory at the summit commands a spectacular 360-degree view of the surroundings, the fact that you can also gaze upon a single mountain from any point of the compass around its foot is a fascinating point that casts Rishiri Island in a truly unique light.
Mt. Rishiri changes colors constantly according to the season and the hour of the day. In the summer months, when the sea comes alive with kelp gathering activities, the mountain is ablaze with green. In September, sections located near the summit and in the valleys begin to gradually turn yellow. On clear winter days, the snow-covered peak becomes tinged in the flush of dawn. The sight of Mt. Rishiri illuminated on a moonlit night is one that is at once unforgettable.
By its very presence, Mt. Rishiri draws in the local landscape. Which of its many faces will you be able to discover? You are invited to look upon the mountain from various angles and vantage points.
Rebun Island: Encounter flowering plants galore on Japan's northernmost island
Situated about 60 kilometers west of Wakkanai in the Sea of Japan, Rebun Island has the distinction of being Japan's northernmost island. A hilly topography surrounds the island's highest peak, Mt. Rebun-dake (490 meters above sea level). The west side of the island is punctuated by strange and bizarre rock formations, including Momo-iwa (peach rock), Jizo-iwa (a rock resembling the guardian deity of children), and Neko-iwa (cat rock). Famous as a floral island of more than 300 different species of naturally growing alpine plants, Rebun Island is home to numerous indigenous species, including C. marcanthum Sw. var. rebunense, Leontopodium discolor, and Oxytropis megalantha. The vegetation found growing in the vicinity of Momo-iwa in the Kafuka area is especially notable, such that it has been officially designated a natural monument of Hokkaido.
Rebun Island has a number of walking and hiking trails, including Momo-iwa hiking course, a 4-hour course, and the Mt. Rebun-dake mountain-climbing trail. Enjoy a walk in the fresh air while appreciating the sights of seasonal flowers and the idiosyncratic terrain.