Visiting the Kushiro Shitsugen National Park

Japan is often spoken of in the context of being one of the nations in Southeast Asia that has a problem with space, especially living space for its population. This creates the notion that Japan is lacking in terms of natural vastness due to nature having to make way for civilization – which may be true for the locates immediate to the big cities, such as Tokyo or Kyoto. Regardless, Japan does in fact have much to boast about in the outdoor department.

The Kushiro Shitsugen National Park is one of the areas that can be described as a vast expanse of nature – one of the locations in Japan that can be considered uniformly natural, home to much of the Land of the Rising Sun’s flora and fauna. The park is located on the island of Hokkaido, which forms the northern part of the country and is the second largest island. The park takes up a significant part of Hokkaido’s eastern part, founded mid 1987. Its size is impressive, measuring in at over 250 square kilometers (100 square miles).

What makes the park unique is that it is commonly known as Japan’s wetlands, swamp and marshland all rolled into one, home to a very specific kind of ecosystem. Here one can find the single largest collection of reedbeds located on the Kushiro Plain, in Japan. The national park is also the home of the Kushiro River which spans over a length of over 150 kilometers (90 miles), connected to the Kussharo Lake, two very impressive sights to see. The park actually serves as a national monument and is not easily accessed by anyone – visitors are normally restricted to viewing areas and tour-guided locations, often visited in order to see some of the famous local wildlife. Kushiro Shitsugen National Park hosts the famous Red-crowned Crane, or more commonly, the Japanese Cranes, a breed of cranes believed to have been extinct in Japan until a near miraculous discovery of a small herd of them living in the area in the early 20th century. Since then, the species has been heavily repopulated through breeding programmes and number in the thousands throughout the wetlands.

The more biologically inclined may also enjoy the view of over 600 different types of plants that populate the area. The lake and river are also the habitats for the Danube Salmon and if lucky one might spot the small Siberian salamanders that live in the dense forests.

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