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Superb view of Eastern Hokkaido with the Kushiro Shitsugen Norokko Train!

Superb view of Eastern Hokkaido with the Kushiro Shitsugen Norokko Train!

Summer in Eastern Hokkaido is very nice and refreshing. If you visit the area, we highly recommend taking the Kushiro Shitsugen Norokko Train (釧路湿原ノロッコ号 Kushiro Shitsugen Norokko Gо̄), a sightseeing train running through the Kushiro Wetland (釧路湿原 Kushiro Shitsugen).


Inside the Norokko Train. (Image credit: Hokkaido Railway Company)


Did you know? The name “Norokko” comes from combining the words noronoro (ノロノロ slow and leisurely) and torokko (トロッコ open-car carriage), and embodies the hope that when you ride this train, you can have a relaxing trip with beautiful views of the Kushiro Wetland. 


View from the train’s large windows. (Image credit: Hokkaido Railway Company)


The Norokko Train runs slowly at the places of interest, where you can take in the scenery from large windows. From the train, you can see great landscapes that are not accessible by car, and you might even be able to see wild animals as well. Get off at one of the stations to enjoy more views of the Kushiro Wetland.


The Norokko Train operates between JR Kushiro Station (釧路駅) to JR Tо̄ro Station (塘路駅), and takes about 1-hour for the entire journey. Please check here for the schedule and operating dates in 2020.


Map of the major stations mentioned. (Image credit: Hokkaido Railway Company)


Travel tips

Big windows to enjoy the panoramic views. (Image credit: Hokkaido Railway Company)


The popular Kushiro Shitsugen Norokko Train has four cars, with both non-reserved and reserved seats. Only one car is non-reserved seating, and it is a normal car. The other three cars are reserved seating, and they are observation cars with big windows. If you take the Norokko Train, we definitely recommended getting a reserved seat so that you can enjoy the panoramic views from the train windows.


Benches on the Norokko Train. (Image credit: Hokkaido Railway Company)


The afternoon trains (No. 3 and No. 4) have less passengers compared to the morning trains during the two round-trip operation period. There are also three-passenger benches with tables, and two-passenger benches. For the two-passenger benches, you can even change the direction of the seats.


Kushiro-Shitsugen Station (釧路湿原駅)

Kushiro-Shitsugen Station. (Image credit: Hokkaido Railway Company)


Kushiro-Shitsugen Station is a log cabin style station, and looks like a red-crowned crane (丹頂 tanchо̄) spreading its wings out. Around Kushiro-Shitsugen Station, a must-visit spot is the Hosooka Observatory (細岡展望台Hosooka Tenbо̄dai), which is a 15-minute walk away.


View of the Kushiro Wetland from the Hosooka Observatory. (Image credit: Hokkaido Railway Company)


The Hosooka Observatory is one of the best in Kushiro Wetland. There are many slopes and stairs to the observatory, so please watch your step. After going through the forest, you can see magnificent scenery. Not only you can see the entire Kushiro Wetland, but also the meandering Kushiro River.


Hosooka Station (細岡駅)

The exterior of Hosooka Station. (Image credit: Hokkaido Railway Company)


Hosooka Station is another log cabin style station. Walk about 200m from the station and you will arrive at the Hosooka Canoe Port (細岡カヌーポート Hosooka Kanū Pо̄to).


Caoneing is a fun activity in summer. (Image credit: Hokkaido Railway Company)


Canoeing is the one of the most popular activities in Kushiro Wetland. The canoe departs from Toro Station and ends the activity here at Hosooka Canoe Port.


Toro Station (塘路駅)

Toro Station. (Image credit: Hokkaido Railway Company)


Toro Station is the last stop of the Kushiro Shitsugen Norokko Train. Walking for 20 minutes from Toro Station, you can reach the entrance of Sarubo Observatory (サルボ展望台 Sarubo Tenbо̄dai) and Sarurun Observatory (サルルン展望台 Sarurun Tenbо̄dai), where you can get bird’s eye views of Lake Toro (塘路湖), the biggest lake in the Kushiro Wetland.


Head to the Sarubo and Sarurun observatories for views of Lake Toro. (Image credit: Hokkaido Railway Company)


Walking on pathways through the woods for 20 more minutes, you will get to the Sarubo Observatory. And from there to Sarurun Observatory, you need to walk 15 more minutes. You can enjoy the two different views of Lake Toro from both observatories.


Recommended food: Ramen Koubou Uocchi

Enjoying a delicious bowl of ramen. (Image credit: Hokkaido Railway Company)


Kushiro Ramen is usually served with smooth soy-sauce based soup and thin noodles. However, the ramen at Ramen Koubou Uocchi (ラーメ工房魚一) is different. This restaurant has been listed on the “Michelin Guide Hokkaido” and is famous for ramen with fish sauce made from local saury.


Come early or the ramen might be sold out. (Image credit: Hokkaido Railway Company)


The popular toppings are oysters and asari clams caught in Eastern Hokkaido. There are many people at lunch time, and all the ramen may be sold out even before closing time, so come early and don’t miss your chance to try these delicious noodles!


Recommended activity

Canoeing is a fun activity to enjoy at the Kushiro Shitsugen National Park. (Image credit: Hokkaido Railway Company)


If you would like to enjoy the Kushiro Shitsugen National Park, canoeing the Kushiro River is so much fun! The canoe moves slowly along the river and you can see the same view as wild animals from a place close to the surface of the water. If you are lucky, you may get to see the red-crowned crane, which is designated as a National Special Natural Treasure.

Recommended souvenir

Yuhi, a popular souvenir. (Image credit: Hokkaido Railway Company)


In the Akan (阿寒) area where Kushiro is located, there is a sweets shop called Matsuya (松屋). The shop was founded 50 years ago, and sells Japanese traditional sweets. One of the popular sweets is Yūhi (ゆうひsunset), which has the shape and colour like the beautiful setting sun in Kushiro. It is a steamed bun stuffed with not-too-sweet white bean paste and sweet-sour raspberry jam.


Hokkaido Rail Pass

Get the Hokkaido Rail Pass to travel around Hokkaido by train. (Image credit: Hokkaido Railway Company)


If you are visiting Eastern Hokkaido by train, the Hokkaido Rail Pass is highly recommended. With the pass, you can take any JR train in Hokkaido (except the Hokkaido Shinkansen) within the validity period. For example, from Sapporo to Kushiro, it already costs ¥9,990 for a one-way ticket (for a reserved seat on the limited express train).


There are four types of rail passes—3-day, 5-day, 7-day, and Flexi-4 day—and the prices range from ¥17,400 to ¥25,710. Reserved seats are free-of-charge for the Hokkaido Rail Pass users, so it’s worth buying one! If you would like to search ticket prices for other sections and timetable, you can visit timetable and ticket price search page.


Header image credit: Hokkaido Railway Company


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