Rebun Island - Hokkaido [E]

#1:  Rebun Island - Hokkaido [E] Author: tinou

Rebun (礼文島) is an island located in northern Hokkaido (北海道). It belongs, along with Rishiri Island(利尻島)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.



Rebun is quite different from Rishiri: it is less volcanic and mountainous. The highest point on this island is a mere 490 meters. And, while Rishiri is almost a perfect circle, Rebun has a long and narrow shape, from North till South. There is actually a rather friendly debate on wether the northernmost point of Japan is at the Soya Misaki, north of Wakkanai City, or at the northern tip of Rebun Island (Scoton Cape).



Just like Rishiri Island, Rebun Island is also popular for hiking and alpine flowers (an unique specificity in Japan as I explained in the Rishiri Island topic), though regarding hiking, the rather low altitude will be less of a challenge compared to Rishiri-zan steep ascension. What is truly unforgettable on Rebun is its colors, covering many nuances between green and blue. July should also provide more flowers than August along the island's many paths, don't miss them!

The most popular way of enjoying the island is to hike its paths. One way of doing it just consist in following a path extending roughly from North to South and named "hachi-jikan course", or "eight hours course" because guess what? Walking it from one tip to another takes approximatively eight hours. Of course, it's possible not to walk it the whole length, some intersections do exist. You cannot get really lost on this island, but still you should definitely get a detailed map such as the Yama-to-Kogen (n1) - Shobunsha: Shiretoko, Rishiri-to and Rebun-to before hiking, because some intersections are hard to find especially on the Eastern side of Rebun.



There are conbinis or supermarket on the Island (well, at least in Kafuka and in the northern town close to the camping ground). As usual, it should be wise to carry enough food for the whole hike. Though this hike is quite easy compared to Hokkaido standards, you should keep in mind that it takes time to complete it.

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Access

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:
The unique airport on the island is closed down until 2015 - see note in the post below.

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Getting around:

The hachi-jikan course goes from Scoton Misaki (Scoton Cape, North point of Rebun) to the Moto-chi Todai, at the southern tip of the island. Once on Rebun, you have to take a bus to get to the head of the trail in the North part of the island (30 minutes - 800 yens, the bus stop is in the vicinity of the ferry terminal). Schedule depends on the season, bet on one per hour during peak. It's easy to connect with the ferries, so as to optimize your time on the island.

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Places to stay:

There is one very good campsite (400 yens per person - see the photo below) on the northern side of Rebun, which is perfect if you plan to have an early departure from Scoton Cape the following day. There is also very nice views at sunset on the hill next to this camping ground: as the photo shows it, you can see Rishiri-zan from there! From the ferry terminal it takes like 30 minutes to get there by bus (actually the bus passes by on his way to Scoton Cape).

There is also a Youth Hostel (Momoiwaso YH)down in the island, near Kafuka. The staff is quite famous for their warm welcoming: if you visit Rebun in summer, it's likely the staff will be waiting for you at the ferry terminal, shouting and waving some kind of Youth Hostel flag... You cannot miss them! The price for a night is a standard one for Youth Hostel. The staff also arranges bus trip to the 8 hours trailhead at early morning, which is a definite plus for those who don't plan to camp.





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The hachi-jikan course starts here at Scoton Misaki. The hike mainly consists in following the eastern coastal area down to the half of the island, and then to cross inland. Usually the first part of the hike is windy because of the sea and winds coming from Siberia.



Along the way you'll pass through hills, gloomy fisherman's villages, tiny forests, and coastal areas. Besides a steep way down to Anama Rocks by noon (if you had an early departure in the morning), there are no technical difficulties (it can turn very slippery in case of bad weather though). Just read your map so as not to miss your intersections!




#2:  Rebun Airport Author: jsteph

According to this website, Rebun Airport has closed until 2015, so access is only by ferry.


[MOD]Thanks for the information. The guide has been updated.

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