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    • Spring
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        Finding the Flow from Kansai to Kochi

        Shikoku’s many mountains, valleys and proximity to the ocean has made it a hidden gem for rafting, kayaking and canyoning enthusiasts willing to take a step or two further from the Golden Route of Kyoto and Osaka.

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        Just beyond Hiroshima City is a tranquil outdoor destination home to some of Japan's last remaining oosanshouo, the elusive giant salamander.
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        The Oni Trail: Hiking Coastal Kyoto

        The mystical oni is prevalent in Japanese children’s stories, usually as a way to scare kids straight. Adventure Travel Kyoto is shedding a new light on this folklore and developing a new hiking route in the countryside of Kyoto.
    • Summer
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        The World is Our Playground

        The Pasche family has been cycling and living out of a tent in remote corners of the planet for the past 13 years on four continents spanning 50 countries.
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        Adventure Travel World Summit in Hokkaido

        The ATTA will host their first Adventure Travel World Summit in Asia in Hokkaido, Japan. We caught up with ATTA Director Shannon Stowell to find out more about the adventure travel industry and how it continues to grow and evolve.
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        The Sweet Secrets of Brewing Mead

        Wander into the world of mead brewing and find yourself immersed in a fascinating journey spanning centuries and continents.
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        The Knights in White Lycra

        Each year a group of cyclists head to the deep north towards Tohoku’s vast rice fields and coastal trails to help transform the lives of neglected children.
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        Sea to Table in Yamagata

        An unforgettable way to intimately explore the Shonai Region in Yamagata is a culinary experience bringing bounty of the sea straight to your table.
    • Autumn
    • Winter
      • camp3 clubhouse madarao keith stubbs outdoor japanvideo

        CAMP3 Clubhouse in Madarao

        Keith Stubbs, a veteran in the snowboard industry, transitioned from rider to coach and instructor trainer for Snowboard Instruction New Zealand. After coaching in various Japanese resorts, he has established a permanent base in Madarao, outlining his plans for the area and future snowboard endeavors.
        shiretoko hokkaido outdoor japan

        New Horizons in Shiretoko

        During another epic powder season, two seasoned winter sports enthusiasts traded their snowboard bags for camera bags and traveled to Eastern Hokkaido to explore the frozen landscape and broaden their winter horizons.
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        Silent Resilience

        Curling athlete Sayuri Matsuhashi’s journey to the top of her sport is an inspiration to deaf athletes and women juggling their roles as mothers while also pursuing their professional dreams.
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        Heritage Hunting in Hokkaido

        Travelers venturing beyond Hokkaido's popular winter resorts will discover a land with a rich cultural and natural history, a proud indigenous people and a community striving to preserve their heritage.
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        Shizukuishi

        Northern Honshu’s Iwate Prefecture, known for heavy snowfall, features Shizukuishi—a powder-rich resort area with views of Mt. Iwate. Snow enthusiasts seeking lesser-known gems can enjoy exceptional snow quality and uncrowded resorts, including Shizukuishi Ski Resort, Amihari Onsen Ski Resort, and Iwate Kogen Snow Park, offering affordability and traditional hospitality.
    • Near Tokyo
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        Getting Dirty in Japan

        “Getting Dirty in Japan” is about getting out of your comfort zone and into some exciting outdoor adventures and destinations in Japan.
    • Near Kyoto
      • Kumano’s Path Less Traveled

        A forgotten pilgrimage trail, ancient power spots and authentic rural communities are waiting to be explored this hiking season on the Iseji Trail. Stretch your legs and tickle your spirit to welcome the green season on one of the Kumano Kodo’s finest routes, minus the crowds.

        Protecting the Sacred Trees of Koya-san

        Within the misty mountains of Japan's Kii Peninsula, Koya-san (Mt. Koya), stands as a sacred realm of tranquility, history, and spiritual significance. This awe-inspiring mountain has been revered for centuries and is home to a unique collection of trees known as the rokuboku, or The Six Trees of Koya-san.
    • All Regions
    • Article Map
    • Ocean and Beach
      • getting dirty in japan

        Getting Dirty in Japan

        “Getting Dirty in Japan” is about getting out of your comfort zone and into some exciting outdoor adventures and destinations in Japan.
    • River and Lake
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    • Mountain and Land
    • Sky
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        Getting Dirty in Japan

        “Getting Dirty in Japan” is about getting out of your comfort zone and into some exciting outdoor adventures and destinations in Japan.
    • Snow and Ice
      • camp3 clubhouse madarao keith stubbs outdoor japanvideo

        CAMP3 Clubhouse in Madarao

        Keith Stubbs, a veteran in the snowboard industry, transitioned from rider to coach and instructor trainer for Snowboard Instruction New Zealand. After coaching in various Japanese resorts, he has established a permanent base in Madarao, outlining his plans for the area and future snowboard endeavors.
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        Curling athlete Sayuri Matsuhashi’s journey to the top of her sport is an inspiration to deaf athletes and women juggling their roles as mothers while also pursuing their professional dreams.
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        Shizukuishi

        Northern Honshu’s Iwate Prefecture, known for heavy snowfall, features Shizukuishi—a powder-rich resort area with views of Mt. Iwate. Snow enthusiasts seeking lesser-known gems can enjoy exceptional snow quality and uncrowded resorts, including Shizukuishi Ski Resort, Amihari Onsen Ski Resort, and Iwate Kogen Snow Park, offering affordability and traditional hospitality.
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        Northern Shinshu’s Secret Stash

        A weak yen, revenge travel, and excellent ski conditions have led to high demand, booking out popular resorts like Hakuba and Nozawa Onsen this year. Fortunately, lesser-known gems like Togari Onsen, near Nozawa Onsen and Madarao, offer charming alternatives for powder seekers.
    • Travel
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        Dan Buettner’s bestseller, “Blue Zones,” which was also adapted into a hit series on Netflix, identifies five regions with a high number of centenarians. One of these zones is Yambaru, in the north of Okinawa Island. A rich cultural and natural heritage remain in this region, holding the secret to the longevity of the communities living there.

        Kumano’s Path Less Traveled

        A forgotten pilgrimage trail, ancient power spots and authentic rural communities are waiting to be explored this hiking season on the Iseji Trail. Stretch your legs and tickle your spirit to welcome the green season on one of the Kumano Kodo’s finest routes, minus the crowds.

        Okinawa Forest Adventure

        Holiday-goers lounging on Onna’s white sand beaches are no doubt unaware of what’s going on high in the jungle as creatures climb above the forest canopy and zip or swing from tower to tower. Curious travelers will discover a new side of Okinawa’s tropical paradise if they take the leap into a Forest Adventure.

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        Okinawa attracts hordes of travelers to its sandy beaches and warm, clear water with divers and snorkelers often posting images of the majestic local sea turtles. The interior forest and rivers, however, are home to another Okinawa turtle also in need of protection—the small, reclusive, but equally beautiful, yamagame.

        Protecting the Sacred Trees of Koya-san

        Within the misty mountains of Japan's Kii Peninsula, Koya-san (Mt. Koya), stands as a sacred realm of tranquility, history, and spiritual significance. This awe-inspiring mountain has been revered for centuries and is home to a unique collection of trees known as the rokuboku, or The Six Trees of Koya-san.
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      • Okinawa’s Blue Zone —A Lifestyle for Longevity...

        Dan Buettner’s bestseller, “Blue Zones,” which was also adapted into a hit series on Netflix, identifies five regions with a high number of centenarians. One of these zones is Yambaru, in the north of Okinawa Island. A rich cultural and natural heritage remain in this region, holding the secret to the longevity of the communities living there.

        Kumano’s Path Less Traveled

        A forgotten pilgrimage trail, ancient power spots and authentic rural communities are waiting to be explored this hiking season on the Iseji Trail. Stretch your legs and tickle your spirit to welcome the green season on one of the Kumano Kodo’s finest routes, minus the crowds.

        Okinawa Forest Adventure

        Holiday-goers lounging on Onna’s white sand beaches are no doubt unaware of what’s going on high in the jungle as creatures climb above the forest canopy and zip or swing from tower to tower. Curious travelers will discover a new side of Okinawa’s tropical paradise if they take the leap into a Forest Adventure.

        Ryukyu’s Mountain Turtles – Interview wi...

        Okinawa attracts hordes of travelers to its sandy beaches and warm, clear water with divers and snorkelers often posting images of the majestic local sea turtles. The interior forest and rivers, however, are home to another Okinawa turtle also in need of protection—the small, reclusive, but equally beautiful, yamagame.

        Protecting the Sacred Trees of Koya-san

        Within the misty mountains of Japan's Kii Peninsula, Koya-san (Mt. Koya), stands as a sacred realm of tranquility, history, and spiritual significance. This awe-inspiring mountain has been revered for centuries and is home to a unique collection of trees known as the rokuboku, or The Six Trees of Koya-san.
    • Races and Events
      • sayuri matsuhashi double role curling athlete japan outdoor

        Silent Resilience

        Curling athlete Sayuri Matsuhashi’s journey to the top of her sport is an inspiration to deaf athletes and women juggling their roles as mothers while also pursuing their professional dreams.

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New Horizons in Shiretoko

During another epic powder season, two seasoned winter sports enthusiasts traded their snowboard bags for camera bags and traveled to Eastern Hokkaido to explore the frozen landscape and broaden their winter horizons. 

shiretoko hokkaido outdoor japan

A canvas of white unfolds as Hokkaido’s mountain ranges and frozen rivers create a mesmerizing panorama below. As we ponder the adventures ahead, a crisp cold air greets us in Kushiro, our gateway to Eastern Hokkaido.

The single carriage train awaits to take us from Kushiro to Nemuro. The journey through Hokkaido’s frozen landscape is a visual feast, with snow-covered trees lining the tracks and occasional glimpses of ice-covered lakes. We are headed to Shiretoko, the peninsula in easternmost Hokkaido that reaches out into the Sea of Okhotsk. The name is fittingly taken from the Ainu word “sir etok” meaning “the end of the earth.” In 2005, the area was registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

shiretoko hokkaido outdoor japan

Just south of Shiretoko’s Nemuro Strait and Kunashiri Island sits the Notsuke Peninsula. It is essentially a 26-kilometer sand bar—the longest in the country—named after the Ainu word for jawbone (notkeu) as it resembles the jawbone of a whale. From December to March, guided snowshoe tours start from the Notsuke Peninsula Nature Center. From here we head out across the thick, frozen waters of Notsuke Bay, surrounded by a pristine winter wonderland and breathtaking views of the Sea of Okhotsk. We keep a look out for deer, foxes and various species of birds along the way.

shiretoko hokkaido outdoor japan

“There are many charms to this region including whale watching for orcas, as well as spotting seals and sea otters that are unique to this area. It is easy to see a variety of wildlife here,” says Kaoru Fujii the director of the Nature Center. 

Fujii fell in love with Shiretoko Nemuro, eventually laying down roots in this beautiful, yet remote region of Hokkaido. One of the highlights here is the chance to see the “Ice Horizon,” a natural phenomenon unique to the area where the sea and sky appear to merge into one. This natural spectacle is caused by the sea ice reflecting the colors of the sunrise or sunset, creating an unforgettable sight. For those who love vast open spaces and a unique sense of perspective, it’s a great way to enjoy Hokkaido in winter away from the crowded ski resorts.

shiretoko hokkaido outdoor japan

Bird watchers and adventure travelers will want to join the Ochiishi Nature Cruise. It’s a great way to explore the island’s rugged coastline and marine birdlife up close. The cruise departs from the Ochiishi Fishing Port and takes passengers on a one-and-a-half to two-hour journey along the coastline to Yururi Island. The boat is equipped with a spacious deck, allowing passengers to take in the breathtaking scenery and spot seabirds as guide Kenji Takano keeps a lookout. Nemuro City is home to roughly 360 bird species, so it’s not hard to find some on the trip.

“It’s great for bird lovers!” proclaims Takano. “We have many sea birds and the Ochiishi Nature Cruise is dedicated to bird watching. Each time you come, you will see different species of birds.”

Takano grew up running a guest house with his parents and watching his father show grateful guests around the Nemuro area. Now a conservation warden for rare species—especially birds— Takano is passionate about sharing the beauty of the Nemuro and Kushiro regions.

“I noticed a lot of visitors to our guesthouse were asking about the wild birds and I shared my knowledge with them as I was already a nature guide. Eventually, I decided to become a wild bird guide to help people learn more about the local birds while searching for them. I prefer small birds, such as the Least Auklet and Spectacled Guillmot—they’re very cute!” he notes.

One of the highlights of the cruise is the opportunity to see the Steller’s Sea Eagle. It is one of the largest eagles in the world, sporting a wingspan of up to two-and-a-half meters. These magnificent birds are known for their striking appearance, with black and white feathers and a bright yellow beak. Other birds you may spot are the Crested Auklet and Tufted Puffin.

shiretoko hokkaido outdoor japan

“I think there needs to be more attention put towards conservation here. There are many rare species living here and more protected areas, such as Yururi Island, are needed for breeding. As birds feed on the sea, fishing nets can be a problem as birds can get tangled in them,” says Takano.

Another attraction of the Ochiishi Nature Cruise is the chance to see the unique rock formations and geological features of Hokkaido’s coastline. The boat passes by towering cliffs, sea caves and natural arches, providing an up-close view of the island’s dramatic landscape. 

shiretoko hokkaido outdoor japan

The cruise operates year round. In the winter months, visitors have a chance to see the sea ice and snow-covered landscapes, while spring and summer bring blooming flowers and lush vegetation.

On the final day of our journey we were welcomed into the family home of local guide Takaya Suzuki for tea and some homemade jerky. We sat and listened to his guiding stories and his future aspirations exploring the vast wilderness of Shiretoko on horseback. 

“I moved to Hokkaido after graduating high school. I worked for a forestry agency here for 21 years, but decided to follow my passion and get certified as a guide. I love the outdoors and the Nemuro Region is quite remote, giving me space to enjoy nature.” Suzuki says.

shiretoko hokkaido outdoor japan

His company, Outland, offers Canadian canoe tours on the Yausubetsu River as well as horseback tours. “I have six horses including “Donsanko,” domestic Hokkaido horses. The best time of year to visit here is spring and autumn. There is so much to experience here, like canoeing, bird watching, horse riding, ice fishing or simply walking through forests,” Suzuki adds. 

After marveling at these stories, we began to understand why this beautiful region is considered a sanctuary for both wildlife and those seeking a genuine connection with the environment. It is Japan’s true northern frontier, a special place that awaits those looking for adventure off the beaten winter path and a unique opportunity to broaden their horizons.

shiretoko hokkaido outdoor japan

WEB CONNECTION

Live Field is a guide to Shiretoko Nemuro, Hokkaido’s far eastern region. There is various information about practicalities and access to the Shiretoko Region from Kanto and Kansai as well as local transportation by train, bus, taxi and rental car. Visit Live Field Shiretoko Nemuro’s website for more info.

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Latest posts

Okinawa’s Blue Zone —A Li...

Dan Buettner’s bestseller, “Blue Zones,” which was also adapted into a hit series on Netflix, identifies five regions with a high number of centenarians. One of these zones is Yambaru, in the north of Okinawa Island. A rich cultural and natural heritage remain in this region, holding the secret to the longevity of the communities living there.

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