Saturday, July 27, 2013

Hokkaido Winter 2013 北海道冬季之旅 - Akan International Crane Center 阿寒国際ツルセンター

Visited 04.02.2013

Pictures of Tancho, otherwise known as red crowned crane, can be found almost everywhere in Kushiro - airport, on bus stop shelters, road signs and even manhole covers! Reason being, Kushiro Marsh, the largest wetland in Japan, is the home to this endangered species. If you are lucky and observant enough, real Tanchos can also be spotted while travelling on the road within Kushiro.

- Tancho imprinted on manhole covers and bus shelters in Kushiro -
Background: Uncontrolled hunting and habitat destruction led to decline in Tancho population in the late 19th century. Measures were subsequently implemented by local government to preserve and protect Tancho and their natural habitat (Kushiro Marsh). Akan district in Kushiro subprefecture is where artificial feeding of cranes first started. Akan International Crane Center was later established in 20th century to reach out to the public on their conservation and research efforts.


- Hired a sightseeing taxi to get to the place as public buses were infrequent. Managed to cover Kushiro City Marsh Observatory within the three hours duration.

- Main building houses an exhibition hall providing all information you want to know about Tancho (mainly in Japanese though) and a shop selling souvenirs - postcards, ornaments, books, etc, all featuring Tancho in various forms.

- During winter, food is scarce in the snow covered wetlands and artificial feeding of cranes takes place in Tancho Observation Centre, located just beside the main building. Approximately 100 - 200 cranes flock to this place in search of food during the cold winter season. Many visitors (especially professional photographers) flock to this place (only open from November to March) too but with a totally different purpose - to capture phenomenal photos of the beautiful crane. Seeing the dynamic behaviours of 100 cranes right in front of my eyes did leave me speechless - truly an amazing and unforgettable sight! In Tancho Observation Centre, all photographers were battling the cold weather outdoors, standing by with their sophisticated camera equipment, waiting for the very right moment, competing to snap the winning and precious shot.

Wish fulfilled - to be able to meet this bird symbol of Hokkaido in person!  


Akan International Crane Center 阿寒国際ツルセンター
23-40, Akan-cho, Kushiro city, Hokkaido, 085-0245, Japan 
Admission Fee = 460 yen
Main building: 0900 - 1700 hrs
Annex (Tancho Observation Center): 0830 - 1630 hrs (only open from 1 Nov to 31 Mar)

View Larger Map


How to get there? 

(1) Local bus. From Kushiro JR Station (釧路駅前), take bus bound for Akanko Onsen (阿寒湖温泉) and alight at Tancho-no Sato (丹頂の里). Bus journey takes 70 mins. About four round trips per day.
Refer to bus schedule:


Commemorative stamp: 

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