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Rishiri Island - Hokkaido [E]
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PostYou have posted in this forum: Fri Sep 08, 2006 7:43 pm Back to top

Rishiri (利尻島) is an island located in northern Hokkaido (北海道). It belongs, along with Rebun Island (礼文島) and the Sarobetsu region, to the Rishiri-Rebun-Sarobetsu National Park (利尻礼文サロベツ国立公園) in north-western Hokkaido.

The whole island is actually an emerging volcano. The cone-shaped moutain and the snow capped summit (which can last up to early July some years) looks very much like Fuji-san, Japan's most famous mountain, and thus earning its nickname, Rishiri-Fuji.

Rishiri is popular for mainly two reasons: hiking its summit and watching flowers. Despite its rather low altitude, these flowers are typical alpine flora which are normally found at much higher altitude. This is typical of northern Japan and Hokkaido Island, which has its own sub-arctic climate, but slightly stressed around places like Rishiri and Rebun Island, or the Shiretoko Peninsula.

You'll need at least a full day on the island to really enjoy your trip. To thoroughly enjoy Rishiri, hiking is a must do. In this respect, the summer season (July-August) is, as for many places in Hokkaido, the only time when the track would be open. Coming in winter can also be an awesome experience, with the island being entirely covered with snow.



By Ferry:
From Wakkanai (稚内), it is well deserved by ferry. Check Higashi Nihonkai Ferry -東日本海フェリー for details on schedule. In the summer season there are basically ferries 4 to 5 times a day between Wakkanai and Oshidomari (鴛泊) on Rishiri (1h40 - around ¥2000); or between Wakkanai and Kafuka (香深) on Rebun (1h55 - around ¥2000). Twice a day, a boat also runs between Rishiri and Rebun: from both Kutsugata (沓形) and Oshidomari, to Kafuka. Note that you can bring your own car from Wakkanai on the ferry, but it will cost around ¥18000/one way.

By Plane:
You can also reach the island by plane, but it's certainly not the cheapest way to arrive there. ANA operates daily flights between Rishiri Airport and Chitose Airport near Sapporo.


Getting around:

Soya Buses run clockwise around the island from Kutsugata on the West coast, but schedule is infrequent.

You can also rent a car at Oshidomari, or bring your own car in the ferry (see Access), though this is certainly not the cheapest option to explore the island.


Places to stay

There is mainly two options for travelers, both located in the vicinity of Oshidomari:

    Oshidomari camp site - ¥400, tap water available

    Kutsugata Municipal Campsite - free, laundry facilities (¥200)

Note that in Kutsugata you can find one of these big tourist hotel resort, with very pleasant onsen facilities to soak your bones in after a hard-day hike!


Concerning hiking (climbing would be more appropriate), the 1721m-high Rishiri-zan may not be challenging in terms of altitude, but this doesn't mean it's an easy way up neither it is down (especially if you want to do it the real way until Kutsugata). Weather forecast should be watched but not treated as gospels since being an island, Rishiri will attract even the smallest cloud that pass-by the area, in the La Perouse Strait. If it begins to rain, to reach the top will cause serious matter since the path is a steep climbing area (ropes are there to be used!) on very loose scree.
The path down to Kutsugata can turn quickly into a river. An early departure is mandatory to be sure to complete the whole hike before sunset. However, if the weather is good, you'll enjoy one of the best hike Japan has to offer, with dramatic climax up to the Sakhalin Island in the North-East, to the highest peak of the Daisetsu-zan National Park in the South-West, above wide open sea. Rishiri Island itself is tremendous, with volcanic peaks, small pine forests, ridge walkings and abrupt cliffs covered with grass.

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PostYou have posted in this forum: Sun May 24, 2009 12:52 pm Back to top

Hi Tinou,
Thanks for all the info.
Last summer I climbed Rausutake in Shiretoko. It was fantastic.
This summer I am going to try Rishirizan and looking forward to it.
The guide books seem to focus on the Oshidomari course but the approach from Katsugata seems shorter but a little more challenging.
Any advice on one course vs the other ? I have climbed about 20-30 mountains in the Kanto area so I have some experience.


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