Looking over the Soya Bay, Cape Noshappu is perhaps the best place to see the most spectacular sunset. Visitors can see not only Rishiri Island and Rebun Island, but as far as Sakhalin if the skies are clear. The sunset is definitely a must-see if you are visiting Wakkanai.
The Soya Hills are a hilly terrain located in the northernmost area of Japan. The hills were formed during the Ice Age and are designated as a Hokkaido Heritage Site. The “white path” created by a 3 kilometer stretch of scallop shells spread across the hills is definitely an “Instagrammable” location you won’t want to miss!
Known as the northernmost point of Japan, the cape is one of the most popular stopping points in Wakkanai, Standing at the tip of the cape, the Monument marks North Latitude 45 degrees 31 minutes 22 seconds. The Island of Sakhalin can be seen when the skies are clear.
Located on the hill of Wakkanai Park, the Wakkanai Centennial Memorial Tower rises 70 meters above ground and 170 meters above sea level. The observatory boasts a 360 degree panoramic view of the Sea of Japan and the Sea of Okhotsk. Sakhalin, formerly known as Karafuto, can be vaguely seen from the observatory, which will immediately remind you that you really are at the northernmost tip of Japan.
Wakkanai Centennial Memorial Tower
The Onuma Pond is a pond located near Wakkanai Airport. The pond is 10 kilometers in perimeter and one and a half meters in depth at the deepest point. During the fall and winter, you can see up to 5,000 swans and over a hundred breed of wild birds can be seen at the pond. Visitors and expert birdwatchers can rent binoculars and telescopes at the rental shop near the pond.
The park is located on the hill adjoining the city of Wakkanai. Standing there are Hyosetsu no Mon Gate and the Monument of Nine Maidens. Both were built as a war memorial. The observatory inside the park features a 360 degree panoramic view of the city of Wakkanai and the Soya Bay. The view from the observatory in the evening is absolutely breathtaking and well worth seeing for any visitor.
Located at Cape Noshappu, this seafront park boasts a beautiful night landscape. Visitors can see the sun slowly setting over the Sea of Japan as it paints the sea a golden color. The park is featured by the monument of a dolphin standing at the center.
Esandomari Fishing Harbor park
This Roman architecture-like breakwater is visited by many visitors every year. After 5 years of construction, the structure was completed in 1936. The breakwater is 427 meters long, 13 meters high, and supported by 70 pillars.
Wakkanai Port North Breakwater Dome
With Cape Noshappu just around the corner, the Noshappu Aquarium is an aquarium located in the northernmost tip of Japan. The building, still retaining an old-time retro feel, has about 1,500 marine creatures of 100 species breed including the spotted seals and many other kinds of sea animals that inhabit the North Sea. Baby seals were born in the spring of 2018 and are now attracting more and more visitors.
The market is divided into several parts; It has a local product market as well as a dining section and even a hot spring bath area. It is necessary for the local products to pass a strict annual screening before they reach the market, and then they are labeled as “Wakkanai specialty brand products.” Another part of the market invokes a nostalgic feeling as the old streetscape from the pre-war period is recreated.
Located near Wakkanai Airport, the Wakkanai Animal Fureai Land offers its visitors a chance to feed and bond with animals including guinea pigs and rabbits. The famous movie dogs that played Taro and Jiro in the movie “Antarctica” also lived here until their passing. Visitors can also enjoy photo ops with the animals. This facility is the home to well-known movie star dogs, so this is your chance to get to know some of the most famous canines across the nation!
Wakkanai City Animal Fureai Land
How about taking some time off to learn a thing or two about space in a planetarium once you have reached Cape Noshappu? Along with its scientific facilities and exhibits, the museum also has a separate building where the giant taxidermied sea lion welcomes visitors at the entrance. In the building, visitors will see records and artifacts about the Japanese Antarctic Expedition. Visitors can learn of the harsh nature and historical details about the expedition as well as what the explorers experienced during that time.
Wakkanai Youth Science Museum
Built in 2012, KITAcolor is a commercial complex connected directly to the JR Wakkanai Station. Wakkai Select, one of the local specialty stores boasts its wide selection of about 3,000 local food items. Visitors can enjoy some souvenirs featuring Rinzo, Wakkanai’s mascot character, while others may enjoy a refreshing bottle of fresh and locally bottled Wakkanai Milk!
KITAcolor (JR Wakkanai Station)
Why not soak in the hot springs popular among the locals and chat with the friendly senior citizens who frequent the baths? The springs are sodium chloride carbonated and has a very smooth and slippery touch against your skin which is also why some people call it an “oil bath.” The natural minerals in the springs are known to keep your body warm for an extended period of time even after the bath.
Wakkanai Hotspring Domu
The Kita no Sakuramori Park is an outdoor set for the movie “Kita no Sakuramori”, which was released on March 10, 2018. The set is now used as an exhibition facility for the movie-related materials. The film starred one of Japan’s most popular actresses Sayuri Yoshinaga and the shooting was performed in Wakkanai in 2017. Visitors can take photos “together” with the actress utilizing the technology of AR (Augmented Reality).
Kita no Sakuramori Park
The Uni (sea urchin) bowl is a must-try and foodies will be impressed by the amount of uni served on the bowl! The fresh sea urchin, one of the many local specialties, has an extremely rich taste that will leave you wanting more. Typically the summer season is the best time to have sea urchin as the sweetness will be at its finest.
Karafuto Shokudo (Seafood Rice Bowl)
What better way to fill your stomach in the land of Hokkaido than by having this exquisite bowl of ramen noodles? With a very experienced female master running the place, the restaurant resembles the “good old Japanese ramen house” rather than a modern restaurant. Visitors can enjoy not only the famous Scallop Ramen, but a wide variety of dishes including curry and rice, many other rice bowl dishes, and even sashimi. The place can be very crowded during busy hours.
Mamiyado (Scallop Ramen)
Located besides the lounge area in the ANA Crowne Plaza Hotel, Marine is a modern European-style café restaurant. The restaurant serves breakfast, light meals and dinner. Dinner is served buffet-style but only available during the summer time. It is conveniently located for travelers near all major transportation facilities including the JR Wakkanai Station and bus and ferry terminals.
Café Restaurant Marine
Takechan is one of the most popular sushi restaurants and frequented by long-time customers. It has been in business for 24 years over two generations. With the second master in charge now, the restaurant never ceases to amaze its customers. Some of the restaurant's signature dishes include fresh sashimi, deep-fried octopus, grilled squid, which is the most popular dish of all, and grilled Soya Beef. The lineup of these food items are unique only to Wakkanai. The second floor is mainly used for banquets.
The café is located inside Michinoeki Wakkanai, a shopping and dining complex that is a part of the JR Wakkanai Station. Their Sea Salt Ice Cream, made with locally produced sea salt (Soya Salt), and “Potelana”, a pudding made from the rare Yuchi Potate, are the café’s signature sweets.
Orange Egg, Kitakara
Tako Shabu is another culinary experience well worth having when you visit Wakkanai. Caught off the Sea of Japan coast, the fresh octopus will be thinly sliced before it is delivered to your table. Dip the slice of octopus in a special boiling broth for just a bit, and you will be ready to enjoy this Hokkaido delicacy. Its crunchy texture is another part of this delicious experience!
Located on the 12th floor of the Crowne Plaza ANA Wakkanai, the restaurant Hanamasa is proud to offer Wakkanai’s most fresh seafood, beef and vegetables with its motto “Locally produced, locally consumed.” Customers will get to see the chef grilling the fresh ingredients right in front of their eyes. The night view from the 12th floor will add extra value to the dining experience. *The restaurant is open only during the summertime.
Hanamasu (Teppanyaki Restaurant)
You can visit this place from the Oshidomari Ferry Terminal on foot. It takes approximately 20 mins from the starting point to the top, where a 360 degree panoramic scene of Mt. Rishiri, Oshidomari town/port and Rebun Island can be enjoyed. The last part of the uphill slope is very steep, so it is highly recommended to stop climbing and stay at the resting place halfway up the hill if you are wearing high heels or flip flops.
This shrine is built on a narrow piece of land projecting into the sea, located on the west coast of the island. Although its Torii gate may seem a little austere, the shrine has an interesting historical anecdote. It is said to have been built by sailors who wanted to show appreciation to the goddess Benten for having saved their sailing vessel from colliding with rocks during a storm.
North Itsukushima Benten Shrine
A small swamp where you can enjoy both the forest birds’ singing and the beautiful reflection of Mt. Rishiri on the surface of the water, also known as “Sakasa Fuji”(upside down Mt. Fuji). Surrounded by primeval forests, it is usually windless and the water is very still. The best time to see the specular reflection of Rishiri Fuji is the morning, so you will have to wake up a little earlier than usual if you don’t want to miss the opportunity.
Numaura Observatory is situated along the only beach of the island, near Otatomari Lake and Route 108. Here, you will find a signboard explaining that the picture of the mountain printed on the package of the famous Hokkaido confectionary “Shiroi Koibito”(White Lover) is actually Mt. Rishiri seen from this place. On the other side of the hill, you can see the Sea of Japan and also Hokkaido in the distance. Either scenery will make you feel like you’re being part of a gorgeous picture.
Shiroi Koibito Hill(Numaura Observatory)
A breathtaking panoramic view spot in the northernmost area of the island. It takes about 5 mins to get here from the Oshidomari Ferry Terminal by car. The impressive view of the sea lets you see Ponshimori Island and Rebun Island. Looking at the opposite side, you can enjoy something totally different, a view of Mt. Rishiri and Oshidomari town. When the sun goes down, the sheer cliff, the sea, practically everything is dyed in orange and makes an extremely beautiful scene.
Yuhigaoka Sunset Observatory
Located in the west area of the island, its observatory commands views of Rishiri Fuji and Rebun Island. Moreover, it can be considered as a great spot to see the sunset. Since the coast is nearby, you can see at a very short distance how local fishermen catch sea urchins and kelp in summer. The park includes a big campsite and a mini visitor center.
Cape Kutsugata Park
Otatomari means “Sand harbor” in Ainu. The only beach of the island can be found in the southeast of this pond. It’s the biggest pond on the island and is connected to Numaura Marshland. It’s also one of the most popular spots as it offers an outstanding view of Mt. Rishiri. When it’s sunny and windless, there’s a good chance that “Sakasa Fuji” appears on the surface of the water.
A natural park where Ezokanzou, a lovely yellow flower blooms from late June to mid July. There is a walking trail leading up to the observatory. On the way there, you will find a gazebo, from which you can see up close the Ponshimori Island, home to black-tailed gulls. This park is also known as a filming location for the famous Japanese movie “A Chorus of Angels”.
Fujinoenchi Natural Park
This ideal spot to catch sea urchins, has mineral rich groundwater flowing into the sea, providing high quality kelp.(Sea urchins grow by eating kelp) At this place you can participate in a very unique activity, catching sea urchins! You will be on a boat using special tools to catch the sea urchins. After the activity, you can crack the shell, dip it in seawater and eat it right away. This is a really tasty experience.
Kamui Kaigan Parkk
This cycling road starts in Nozuka Observatory in the north part of the island and ends in Rishiricho Undo Park. It’s a route of nearly 24.9km. The cycling experience through the tranquil mountain roads and the windy coastline will surely offer a refreshing feeling. It may introduce you to new discoveries that you wouldn't notice when sightseeing by car.
This onsen springs off from the foot of Mt. Rishiri with an excellent view of its summit. Listening to the singing of the black woodpeckers, a national treasure designated bird that lives in a nearby virgin forest, you will experience a very relaxing time here. It’s the only hot spring that allows you to enjoy such rich experience in a day trip. Next to the hot spring facility, there is a warm swimming pool facility called Yueikan and also a free footbath(only used in summer). Many climbers and bird-watchers love to visit here.
This museum was built in 1913, formerly used as the village office. It displays a large number of objects that tells the history of Rishiri Island, the life from primitive times, cultural history and the life after Japan’s modernization. This building contains the 1.7 million-year-long history of Mt. Rishiri. Rishiri Island derives its name from the Ainu language which means “high island” and the island’s soul rests inside this elegant building. You can also listen to some traditional songs called “Okiageondo” in the museum.
Rishiri Island Local Museum
It is located in the southernmost tip of the island. The coast area around this park was heavily affected by lava flow from Mt. Rishiri. It may give you an image of how terrific Mt. Rishiri was as a volcano. The park features two adorable seals swimming in a pool built in a rock reef area.They entertain everyone who visit here.
Senhoshi Misaki Park
A Museum that introduces the nature and history of Rishiri Island, focusing on the harmony of nature, sea and humans. It has a wide range of displays regarding the ancient ruins and the shell mounds of the post-Jōmon period. Furthermore, you can learn about herring fishery, a very important factor that helped the island flourish in the modern period. There are also other interesting displays, for example a tomb and a flexed human body, that was discovered in ancient ruins of Hokkaido.This discovery was one of the reasons why the museum was established. The museum will give you a peek of what the pre-Ainu era was like.
Rishiri Town Museum
Yamunai-sawa means “cold river” in the Ainu language. Aside from having a spectacular view, this valley is famous for its perpetual snow. A trekking route is available, which connects the valley and the Oniwaki area in the south of Mt. Rishiri. Observing alpine plants while trekking is also a good way to appreciate this wonderful spot.
It originally had been a seafood wholesaler 130 years ago, but was converted into a station afterwards. The cafeteria serves up Rishiri coffee and Kelp Chips. There is also a room where you can experience kelp crafting and an art gallery featuring pressed flower art.
Rishiri Island Station “Kaisou-no-Sato Rishiri”
Despite being the largest marshland on the island, it has less tourists than Numaura Marshland and Otatomari Pond. However, the marshland itself is popular among plant enthusiasts because of its rare ecosystem. It’s one of the few places in Japan where you can enjoy the view of both hydrophytes and alpine plants. The most famous ones include Ezoisotutuji and Tsurukokemomo, which bloom at the beginning of summer. You can see other ones such as Sawagikikyou and Tachigiboushi all summer long. A 0.9 km walking trail surrounds the marshland. It’s not a long distance, so give it a try.
Mirupisu is a handmade lactic acid drink which has been manufactured in Rishiri Island for more than 40 years. It’s exclusive to this island and can’t be found anywhere else. It has a wide selection of 15 tasty flavors such as the original flavor, the mountain grape flavor and the Japanese rose flavor. This good old drink will sure bring you nostalgia.
An excellent ramen restaurant which has been awarded the Bib Gourmand by the Hokkaido MIchelin Guide twice. It has a great reputation among local people too. Their speciality is the “Yaki-joyu” ramen(scorched soy sauce based ramen). Its delicious soup is made combining the Japanese stock extracted from Rishiri kelp, chicken carcass soup and tonkotsu broth. It’s really worth the wait.
This store with a very long tradition is located in the pondside of Otatomari Pond, the biggest pond of the island. It sells Rishiri kelp, processed kelp products and some souvenirs. Also, you can enjoy snacks and dining. For instance, Mannenyuki Soft Serve, Haskap Perfait and Scallop Butter Yaki.
Rishiri Kameichi(Otatomari Store)
At first sight, it may seem like a stylish café for young people.Still, the ingenious and impressive food this café offers, satisfies people of all ages. The young owner of this café is also a food service coordinator and comes up with a lot of brilliant food ideas. The savory Miso Mackerel Ramen is strongly recommended if you are planning on having a meal in this place. Tsuki cafe is currently gaining more and more attention and will keep expanding its food menu.
A good place to rest by the Otatomari Pond with a view of Rishiri Fuji. Grilled scallops and whelks can be enjoyed here. The scallops don’t need cleaning and are prepared as sashimi too. When the sea urchin catching starts in summer, different types of sea urchin are added to the menu. While the horse-dung sea urchin is rich in sweetness, the purple sea urchin has a simple but delicate flavor.
Waka-san no Mise(Whelk)
It offers special stocks made from domestic ingredients, including Rishiri kelp. The store has three types of completely organic and salt-free stocks. Each has its own distinct blend of ingredients and can be used for different kinds of foods.
Odashi no Risen
Kita-no-Canaria Park is one of the locations used in the Japanese film, ‘A Chorus of Angels’. There’s an old school located in the park, that was built just for filming and is now open to the public. This spot is also a wonderful place to enjoy the beautiful scenery of Rebun Island. Coffee is now available at the shop there, so please relax and enjoy the scenery with a cup of coffee.
The cape is the northernmost point of Rebun Island. From the cape, you can see Todo island, which is an uninhabited island. On a clear day, you may be able to see Sakhalin, Russia in the distance. Here, you will surely enjoy the breathtaking views of the dark blue ocean and jutting coastline. This is a great place to shop for souvenirs and eat delicious ice cream. If you are feeling adventurous you can also try ice cream made with Rebun Island’s specialty, konbu (seaweed).
Cape Sukoton (Sukoton Misaki)
The cape is 180 meters above the sea level. You can get there by the walking trail, Edoya Sando Path. If you’re not a frequent trekker, this may be difficult, but if you take your time, the view from the cape is definitely worth the work. The beautiful flowers and oceanview are unlike any other.
Cape Gorota (Gorota Misaki)
In the southern part of Rebun Island near Motochi, you will find a 50-meter-high rock in the shape of a praying Jizo (a Buddhist deity of children). There is a beach nearby called Menou Beach which is famous for agate, a type of mineralized rock. You may find some beautiful agate there on the beach.
Rebun Island, also known as Flower Island, has many beautiful flowers growing there. Rebun-atsumori-so or Rebunese is one of the endemic plants of the island. This flower can only be seen from the end of May to the middle of June. If you walk around the area where Rebunese are growing densely, you may also see other flowers like the keyflower and Kurumatsukubanesou also in full bloom.
Rebun-atsumori-sou Area (Cypripedium macranthum var. rebunense Area)
As the name Sukai means a clear sea, this cape is a popular sightseeing spot where you can enjoy the clear blue water. This was also the filming location for a well known Japanese film called ‘Chorus of Angels’. You may enjoy the walking trail that connects this cape to the others two capes on the island.
Cape Sukai (Sukai Misaki)
At the southernmost point of the west coast of Rebun Island, there is a large rock called ‘Nekoiwa’, which resembles a cat. From the observation deck, you can also see a rock that resembles a peach, Momoiwa.
Cat Rock (Nekoiwa)
At the northernmost tip of Rebun Island you can find Cape Kanedano. This cape is a quiet, secluded area, untouched by tourist buses. However, it’s a great place to observe seals! As you look for them, you may mistake the seals for rocks.
Cape Kanedano (Kanedano Misaki)
Usuki-No-Yu offers wonderful hot spring baths which are good for recovering from fatigue. From the open-air bath, you may see Mount Rishiri across the ocean. You can easily access the springs on foot from the Kafuka Port Ferry Terminal. Relax and enjoy both indoor and open-air baths.
Rebun Island Onsen, Usuki-No-Yu
The Edoya Sando Path is a walking trail traveling to the north capes of the island, which is one of the seven trekking routes. Although you can walk along the road, it is used for cars and buses as well. Various flowers including keyflowers will be in full bloom around the trail when they’re in season.
Edoya Sando Path
As the origin of the word ‘Rebun’ comes from a word meaning ‘offshore’ in the Ainu language, this museum offers you an excellent opportunity to learn the history and culture of Rebun, the Japanese offshore island. From the art of Okhotsk culture to the ancient remains of Japanese prehistory which is an important Japanese cultural property, there are many things to see and learn about. The musem is located near the Kafuka Port Ferry Terminal.
Rebun Historical Museum
Located in a remote spot at the south-west end of the island, Momoiwaso Youth Hostel offers its guests a unique experience at a very reasonable price. There is little to no infrastructure nearby so visitors can enjoy the surrounding nature to its fullest. The hostel is well known for its friendly and accommodating staff members; you may be lucky to enjoy the young staff’s dancing and singing during your stay!
Momoiwaso Youth Hostel
Rebun Banya is a local inn and was opened in 2017 as part of the local community support program to give guests the opportunity to learn what it is like to live on the island as a resident. The reasonable rate is a good enough reason to stay, but not just that; maybe the most valuable experience guests can have would be the hands-on job experiences in several local job scenes such as fishing and local food making activities. The building is modeled after a traditional fisher’s inn/workplace.
Local Community Support Group Rebun Banya
Surrounded by the woods, the Midorigaoka Park Campsite offers a very peaceful and tranquil atmosphere by having only the bare minimum facilities and 10 wooden decks. Most of the visitors who come here are experienced campers.Visitors can certainly enjoy being surrounded by the greenery when they are staying here. Take a stroll and enjoy the daisies covering the ground and the chirp of the wild birds.
Midorigaoka Park Campsite
The 490 meter tall Mount Rebun isn’t all too challenging to climb, but it definitely has its own charms. The mountain has a 90 minute hiking trail and hikers can see the views constantly change and feel as if they were in a highland as there are alpine plants along the way to the top of the mountain. The mountain top commands a 360 degree panoramic view looking over Cape Sukoton, Cape Gorota, Lake Kushu, and Mount Rishiri.
The Sea Urchin Center offers its visitors the opportunity to learn how to take the shell off the sea urchin and eat what’s inside. This cannot be experienced anywhere else as the instructor will carefully tell you what to do step by step. Please don’t miss out on this opportunity if you are in Rebun.
Sea Urchin Center
Robata Chidori is a local diner that offers char-grilled seafood along with a wide variety of food including curry and rice, and ramen noodles. Of all the delicious foods, Hokke Chan Chan Yaki (grilled Atka mackerel) is the most popular. It is served with miso-pickled green onions on top and slowly cooked on a Robata grill. Don’t miss the chance to try this Hokkaido delicacy when you are in Rebun!
Located on the second floor of the Kafuka Ferry Terminal, Takechan Sushi serves seasonal seafood dishes. Some of its signature dishes include summertime-only sea urchin bowl, seafood-based ramen, and grilled Atka mackerel rice bowl seasoned with thick Kabayaki sauce. Perhaps the most must-try food is the legendary seafood soup curry and rice as the dish is limited to 5 servings per day, so be sure to stop by Takechan when you are around the Kafuka Ferry Terminal.
“Freshly baked bread for fishers” is the motto for Plage de Lapin. With this motto in mind, the former confectionery store has changed into a local small bakery. It has not only won over the heart of the locals, but attracted visitors from other regions. Of all the kinds of bread they make, the peanut butter bread is the most sold each day.
Plage de Lapin
The diner is located on Cape Kanedano, one of the northernmost capes of the island. Atoi means “sea” in Ainu, the indigenous language of Hokkaido. The diner is directly run by the local fishery union and offers fresh seafood. Once the fresh seafood gets in your mouth, you will be amazed and left wanting more. A crowd of seals might crawl up on the rocks for a nap, so be sure to say hi to them if you get the chance.
Seafood Diner Atoi
Steller sea lions are adorable sea creatures known for their giant body. But they are sometimes a trouble for local fishers; they consume huge amounts of fish off the fisher’s fishing ground. Grilled sea lion skewers might have been created to overcome this “trouble” and now food stalls on Cape Sukai are encouraging tourists to try the food. The grilled red meat of the sea creature goes well with beer! Why don’t you give it a try?
Cape Sukai Local Specialty Food Stall (Grilled Steller Sea Lion Skewer)
The store featured with red noren curtains is known for its deep-fried octopus. Just like stellar sea lion skewers, it is skewered and has a unique taste. It is nothing like the ordinary deep-fried octopus. Its soft texture and curry flavor will surely be another great culinary experience in Hokkaido.
Cape Sukai Local Specialty Food Store (Deep-fried Octopus)
As a sister store of Takechan Sushi, Kemuri is a relaxing dining spot, mostly visited by the locals while Takechan is usually crowded with tourists. First-time customers are also warmly welcomed by their friendly staff. A wide selection of foods are served at the restaurant.
Izakaya Diner Kemuri
Kafuka is located right across from the Kafuka Ferry Terminal. Visitors can just get there on foot from the terminal. The diner offers a la carte grilled dishes, sushi, and set meals. Fresh seafood rice bowls, especially seasonal sea urchin bowls, are also recommended.
Seafood Diner Kafuka