Day 7 of our summer holiday in Hokkaido: After making it across Shiretoko Pass 知床峠 and an unusual episode of car-sickness which rendered me with no appetite, I woke the following day with renewed vigour to the loud squawking of seagulls in Rausu 羅臼 fishing village.Located along the Okhotsk Sea, Rausu is on the eastern edge of Shiretoko Peninsula 知床半島, on the opposite side of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, away from the more popular and touristy Utoro town.Here’s an interesting comparison of the two towns: Utoro is California and Rausu is London; Utoro gets all the sunshine, and Rausu gets all the fog. The town is also different and lives off its fishing industry while Utoro is mostly a tourist town.
Fortunately the fog was nowhere to be seen when we were there!
That morning, we drove the car to a parking lot that was outside of the town centre – as instructed on the previous day by the guides in the Shiretoko Nature Centre 知床自然センター (map code 757 603 547; 〒099-4356北海道斜里郡斜里町大字遠音別村岩尾別531). From here, we waited, with our rented gumboots in hand, for a bus that will bring us to the entry point to Rausu Lake 羅臼湖. You see, there is no car park at the entrance to the trail, which is located by a highway. The ride was probably around 20 minutes on the highway.
Rausu Lake is the largest lake in the Shiretoko Peninsula and the only way to get there is to traverse over swamp land with a fair amount of uphill climbing over informal wooden steps + ginger steps over wobbly logs in muddy waters.How long did it take? Hard to say as our progress was rather slow at the beginning (the initial two ‘stations’) as my parents struggled with the steep climb and uneven steps. It was then that it struck me that my parents have gotten old(er) and that I shouldn’t have put them through this difficult ‘walk’.With a slightly heavy heart (me), we went our separate ways as my parents decided to turn back and wait for us at where the car was parked. My sister and I proceeded to make our way through the remaining stages to Rausu Lake.There weren’t many people out exploring the lake that morning – which was not surprising as the trail is quite challenging and not as accessible as the Shiretoko Five Lakes 知床五湖.Everyone we met here was Japanese. Every now and then, we would hear the tinkle of a ‘bear bell’ – it’s recommended to carry a bell on you to alert bears, which are often spotted around the lake – as someone approached. We didn’t have a bell, so we made do with our chatter!Once we got past the third station, the trail seemed to flatten out significantly (compared to the earlier steep climb).From here, it was quite an easy, albeit long, walk, over stretches of raised wooden planks, and we eventually arrived at our destination: Rausu Lake, with the imposing Mt. Rausu in the background and slightly shrouded in fog.
It was impressive, immense, and incredibly tranquil. Definitely worth every bit of effort that it took to get there. You’ll have to see it for yourself to experience the beauty and scale of Rausu Lake.
For more information, visit: http://rausuko.blog21.fc2.com/ or
Rausu Visitor Center 羅臼ビジターセンター
Map code 757-410-368
+81 0153 87-2828
0900-1700 May-October, closed Monday