Hokkaido (北海道) is a beautiful island of Japan with many natural wonders. It is known for its relatively low temperatures and rich flora and fauna. It is a fact that most of the wetlands in Japan are present in Hokkaido. Let’s have a look at 5 of these awesome wetlands in Hokkaido, Japan.
Rishiri (利尻) is a small island with a circumference of approximately 60 km, located just off the coast of Hokkaido. Rishiri is very rich in swamp plants, alpine trees, and beautiful ponds. The Numaura Wetland is located in the southern part of the island and is designated as a National Natural Monument by the government. There is a pond named Otatomari-numa (オタトマリ沼) which is famous for its natural beauty. One additional fact of awesomeness is that this wetland was formed due to a crater explosion about 7,000 years ago. There is also another much larger wetland on Rishiri called Minamihama (南浜湿原) in the town of Rishirifuji (利尻富士) which is also very rich in nature.
Ochiishi-misaki is present at the bottom of the Nemuro Peninsula (根室半島) in the eastern part of Hokkaido. It is one of the highly preserved ecological areas in the entire country. One can see some rare plants here such as skunk cabbage, Hakusanchidori (白山千鳥 – Orchis aristata), and many others. There are no buildings or any sort of man-made structures in the entire wetland except for a lighthouse. From the top of the lighthouse, one can see hundreds of acres of greenery with red pine trees, surrounding cliffs, and the Pacific Ocean.
Furen-ko Wetland is present at the mouth of the Furen River (風蓮川) which flows into Lake Furen (風蓮湖) near Nemuro City (根室市). This area is actually a Ramsar Site under the Ramsar Convention which is an international treaty signed in 2005 in aims of conserving wetlands. Furen-ko is rich in bird life. Many rare species of birds such as white-tailed eagles, red-crowned cranes, Steller’s sea eagle, etc. can be observed here. The wetland is also a famous destination for migratory birds such as bean goose during winter.
Notsuke-hanto is another Ramsar Site which is present in the Notsuke Peninsula, the largest sand split in Japan protruding over the Nemuro Strait (野付湾). This wetland is the home for many species of shellfish and oak trees. It is the best place to find whooper swans during spring and fall. However, the site is deteriorating due to sea water erosion.
Shibetsu is another National Natural Monument preserved carefully and is present in the north of Notsuke Peninsula. It is located between the Po River (ポー川) and the Shibetsu River (標津川) in the Nemuro Strait. Shibetsu is a moorland that has not been trampled much. 3,000-year-old plants tracing to the glacial ages can be seen here.
Do not forget to visit these 5 incredible wetlands if you are a nature lover. These places are also good for botanists and those interested in wildlife photography. There are at least 500 wetlands recognized by the Japanese Government across Japan. One can contact the Ministry of the Environment for more information regarding wetlands in Japan.