With three major national parks, eastern Hokkaidō will be a high priority for those interested in Japan’s natural environment. Public transport is sparse, so consider renting a car to get around. Abashiri is known throughout Japan for its old maximum-security prison (now a museum), and winter boat tours through the drift ice on the Sea of Okhotsk. Jutting into these inhospitable waters northeast of Abashiri is Shiretoko National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of Japan’s most naturally unspoiled areas. Inland, south of the peninsula, the Akan National Park is also stunning, with hot springs and three scenic lakes. More eco-tourist delights await at Kushiro Shitsugen National Park and Kiritappu Marsh where you can spot regal red-crested cranes among many other fauna and flora.
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