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Hokkaido

Rishiri and Rebun Islands

Small islands by the northern tip of Hokkaido, part of the Rishiri-Rebun-Sarobetsu National Park.

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Rishiri and Rebun Islands

Rishiri and Rebun are two small islands located at the northern tip of Hokkaido. These islands are part of the Rishiri-Rebun-Sarobetsu National Park because they are recognized for their abundance of alpine flora, scenery of volcanic mountains and places created by marine erosion.

Rishiri Island is mostly known for its dormant volcano Mount Rishiri also known as Rishiri-Fuji. It is referred to as Rishiri-Fuji because its shape resembles Mount Fuji. The mountain is 1721 meters above sea level and can be seen from the port of Wakkanai. The hike up the mountain to the summit is difficult and will take a whole day to complete. The island is nearly a round shape with almost 17km north to south and about 15 km east to west. The name Rishiri derives from the Ainu word “Riishiri,” which means island with a high mountain or high island. It is located about 40 km southwest of Wakkanai City, which is the port the ferry leaves from to get to the islands. The towns of Rishiri Island that are mostly visited are Oshidomari and Kutsugata. Oshidomari is the biggest town on the island and is one of the ferry ports used to travel. In the southern part of Oshidomari is the Rishirifuji Onsen, hot spring, and has both indoor and outdoor, rotenburo, baths. Kutsugata is a small town with a port and a ferry leaves here to Rebun Island.

Rebun Island is located 15 km northwest of Rishiri Island. The western coastline has mostly steep cliffs while the eastern side is relatively leveled to the land. Unlike Rishiri, Rebun is mostly flat lands with Mount Rebun as its highest peak at 490 meters. The name Rebun come from the Ainu word “repun,” which translates to island in the open sea. Rebun first developed as a fishing spot for the Soya branch in 1685, which were part of the Matsumae Clan. Now the island is known for its sea urchin industry. The main town Kafuka, where the Heart Land Ferry operates from Wakkanai to Rebun and Rishiri, is located in the southern part of the island. In the southwestern area is Motochi, where it is known for its steep coastline, ryokan, a giant rock resembling a cat’s head and Jizo statues. There is also Momoiwa, Peach Rock, a roundish hill with views combining Rishiri Island and alpine flora.