Translated by Greg
Kamuiwakkayu Falls In Shiretoko, Hokkaido - Access And Highlights
Written by Mayu
Kamuiwakkayu Falls is located in the Shiretoko region, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A unique feature of the falls is that the water is fed from a natural hot spring. Here is information on access, tours, activities, and recommended hotels.
What is Kamuiwakkayu Falls?
Kamuiwakkayu Falls is a waterfall on the Kamuiwakka River, located in Hokkaido's Shari-cho area. Different from most waterfalls, the water here is warm, as originates from a natural hot spring. The basin of the waterfall turns into an open-air bath where visitors can sit and relax. In the summer months many visitors converge on this popular hot spring area. The name of the falls means "heavenly water" in the Ainu language (*1).
There's only one road that leads to Kamuiwakkayu Falls, but it's open exclusively during the summer. Every year from around November until the end of May in the following year, the road is closed and there's no access to the falls. Therefore, those interested in seeing Kamuiwakka Falls should make their visit between spring and early autumn.
*1 Ainu are a group of indigenous people living in Hokkaido with a spoken language. The names of many places in Hokkaido come from this language.
The Shari-cho area where Kamuiwakka Falls is located also includes the western part of the Shiretoko region, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Shiretoko Goko Lakes (Shiretoko Five Lakes), Shiretoko Pass, and Cape Puyuni all boast gorgeous scenery and are just a few of the many local highlights.
Kamuiwakkayu Falls: A Waterfall with Hot Springs
The main feature of the falls' water is its sulphuric content, said to have medicinal benefits for skin conditions such as cuts and burns. Though sulfur hot springs can be good for your health, the water is highly acidic, so avoid getting the water into your eyes, nose, and mouth. You should also avoid the water if you have any open cuts or very sensitive skin.
Getting to Kamuiwakkayu Falls from Other Places in Hokkaido
Getting to Kamuiwakkayu Falls from various locations in Hokkaido is possible via public transportation, but it takes several hours from most destinations, due to its remote location. It is strongly recommended to rent a car in Hokkaido to save on time (click here to search for rental cars in Hokkaido).
The closest station to Kamuiwakkayu Falls is JR Shiretoko-Shari Station, from where you will ride a bus to the waterfall itself.
For detailed information on how to get from Tokyo to various places in Hokkaido, please have a look at the following article, Ways To Travel From Tokyo To Hokkaido! A Thorough Comparison
Access from Sapporo By Train
For starters, from JR Sapporo Station take either a JR Limited Express Okhotsk Train or a Limited Express Super Ozora Train, and go as far as Abashiri Station. At Abashiri Station, transfer to the Senmo Main Line headed for Kushiro and get off at Shiretoko-Shari Station. Please note that there will be several hours to wait in between at Kushiro before the train to Shiretoko-Shari Station. The estimated travel time is six hours and thirty minutes, and the one-way fare is 11,970 yen.
Access from Asahikawa By Train
From Asahikawa Station, take the JR Limited Express Taisetsu Train bound for Abashiri, and get off at Abashiri Station. At Abashiri Station take the JR Senmo Main Line headed for Kushiro, and get off at Shiretoko-Shari Station. You will have to wait a couple of hours or more for your second train, so the estimated travel time (including transfer time) is five to seven hours, and the one-way fare is 9,220 yen.
Access from Kushiro By Train
From Kushiro Station, take the JR Senmo Main Line headed for Abashiri, and get off at Shiretoko-Shari Station. The travel time is around two hours and twenty minutes, and the one-way fare is 3,190 yen.
Getting to Kamuiwakkayu from Shiretoko-Shari Station By Bus
First, get on board a shuttle bus at the Shari Bus Terminal (right in front of Shiretoko-Shari Station) and get off at the Kamuiwakkayu Falls bus stop.
Estimated travel time is fifty minutes and the one-way fare is about 2,000 yen. It's ten minutes on foot from the bus stop to the falls.
Recommended Accommodations in Shiretoko
Route-Inn Grantia Shiretoko-Shari Ekimae
This hotel is ideally located just one minute on foot from Shiretoko-Shari Station. Access from here to Shiretoko's main sightseeing spots is outstanding. The hotel's large bath features water that's fed directly from the nearby hot spring, so you won't have any problems recovering from your travel fatigue.
Address: Hokkaido, Shari-gun, Shari-cho, Minato-machi 16-10
Website: Route-Inn Grantia Shiretoko-Shari Ekimae (Japanese)
Shari Daiichi Hotel
This hotel is conveniently located two minutes away on foot from Shiretoko-Shari Station. The hotel's restaurant is famous for its menu that takes advantage of fresh, locally grown vegetables and seafood caught in the nearby ocean. They also have a reasonably priced room plan (about 6000 yen) that includes both breakfast and dinner. This is a convenient lodging facility that can serve as your base of operations for your Shiretoko sightseeing.
Address: Hokkaido, Shari-gun, Shari-cho, Minato-machi 14-11
Website: Shari Daiichi Hotel (Japanese)
Kamuiwakkayu Falls: Nearby Sightseeing and Activities
When visiting Kamuiwakkayu Falls, it's also worth seeing the other scenic spots nearby. In the Shiretoko area, there are eight famous sightseeing spots, known as Shiretoko Hakkei. In addition to Kamuiwakkayu Falls, the other chosen members of the Eight Views of Shiretoko are Oshinkoshin Falls, Oronkoiwa Rock, Yuhidai (sunset) Point, Cape Puyuni, Frepe Falls, Shiretoko Pass, and Shiretoko Goko Lakes. Each spot offers stunning scenery courtesy of the surrounding nature.
Also, sightseeing boats leave from Utoro Harbor, another place known for its scenic splendor. From aboard the boat you can see Cape Puyuni, Frepe Falls, and the rest of Kamuiwakkayu Falls (located downstream from the main waterfall). You can get a close-up view of Frepe Falls and other sights while navigating a sea kayak, too.
Trekking and wildlife watching are popular activities in the Shiretoko region, as well as drift ice walking in February and March. For activities and tours, see the following links below: