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Hokkaido

Rausu

Rausu is the largest town in the Shiretoko Peninsula and is located in the southern half of the area.

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Rausu

Rausu (羅臼町, Rausu-Chō) is the largest city in the Shiretoko Peninsula and is located on the southern half of the area. The name of the town Rausu comes from the Ainu word “raushi,” which roughly translates to “low-land” or “place of men with beast-like spirit.” It is recorded in the Matsumae Clan’s Chronicles of Shiragi that they traded with the Ainu, also known as Ezo, in the Genna era (1615-1625). In 1789, the first year of the Kansei Era, the indigenous Ainu rebelled against the ruling power in Menashi as well as Kunashir Island. The area was briefly returned to the Matsumae Clan from 1821 to 1855 until it fell under the domain of the shogun again. Rausu’s economy centers on fishing, Shiretoko tourism and local businesses. The fishing industry of Rausu consists of kichiji (rockfish), salmon, squid, Alaska Pollock, konbu (kelp) and sea urchin. The port of the town is the only place in Japan where sea urchin can be harvested from winter to summer. The Rausu konbu (kelp) is pretty famous in the area especially when it is harvested right after the drift ice melts.

In the winter time, the coast of Rausu is surrounded by the famous drift ice. There are about 5 cruise ship companies in Rausu that offer drift ice and nature sightseeing. In the summer time people can join a sightseeing boat to see beaked whales, sperm whales, killer whales, harbor seals, Dall’s porpoises and Pacific white-sided dolphins around the Shiretoko Peninsula. In the town you can go to the Rausu History and Nature Museum where you can learn about the Jomon and Okhotsk culture as well as experience the exhibitions about the birds and wild animals of the area. There is an outdoor natural hot spring called Kuma no Yu, also known as Rausu Onsen, by the Rausu Daiichi Hotel. The onsen has been around since the Edo era and is popular amongst visitors. There are two baths in the area, one is mixed and the other is for women only. Along the coast of Rausu at the end of road number 87, there are two free onsen (hot spring) baths available. Aidomari Onsen is located on the beach and can be identified by the blue tent covering it. The other one is the Seseki Onsen, which has two stone pools on the beach. Also the disputed Kunashir Island, which has been occupied by Russia since World War II, can be seen from Rausu.