As the sightseeing taxi was hired for three hours and there was time left after visiting Akan International Crane Center, our taxi driver recommended this place as it was along the way back to Kushiro town.
Background: Kushiro Marsh is the largest wetland in Japan, home to almost 2000 different species of plants and animals. It is also first Japanese marsh registered under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.
Various ways to get closer to this protected wetland:
(1) Hop onto the train travelling northwards along the Senmo main line from Kushiro JR Station as this train route goes through Kushiro Marsh. Take the limited period SL Fuyu-no-Shitsugen Train operating from January to March or Kushiro Shitsugen Norokko Train operating from May to September, as they allow passengers to take a closer look at the wetland while travelling at a slower speed. Had the chance to sit in DL Fuyu-no-Shitsugen Train during this trip (the steam locomotive version was out for repair at that point in time).
(2) Alight at Kushiro Shitsugen JR Station (釧路湿原駅) and walk to Hosooka Observatory (細岡展望台). This observatory provides a panoramic scenery of this natural landscape - Kushiro river winding its way through the wetland. Did not manage to visit the observatory during this trip.
Location of Hosooka Observatory:
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- Exhibition hall provides information on the importance of Kushiro Marsh as a life support for many species of plants, fishes and animals (majority of the displays in Japanese though). Both the observation lounge and rooftop area on the third floor provides a good view of this massive wetland. Later found out that this place was much larger than I thought after reading the brochure. Walkway that spans a distance of 2.5 km (takes about an hour to cover) in the same premise allows visitors to come closer to nature. Personally felt that it will be better visit this place in summer when extensive lush greenery can be seen.
|- Admission ticket -|
Kushiro City Marsh Observatory 钏路市湿原展望台
Admission Fee = 460 yen
Opening hours: 0830 - 1800 hrs (1 May - 31 Oct); 0900 - 1700 hrs (1 Nov - 30 Apr)
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How to get there?
(1) Local bus. From Kushiro JR Station (釧路駅前), take Tsurui, Hororo line (鹤居线，幌呂线). Alight at Kushiro City Marsh Observatory (釧路湿原展望台) bus stop. Bus journey takes 40 mins. Around 6 round trips per day.
Refer to bus schedule: http://www.akanbus.co.jp/localbu/senkawa.htm