Shiretoko Goko or the Shiretoko Five Lakes are hidden in the native forests of the Shiretoko Peninsula situated in the northeastern corner of Hokkaido. Formed by the eruption of nearby Mount Io, the lakes are part of the Shiretoko National Park. The area is renowned for its beautiful views of Shiretoko’s unspoiled wilderness.
There is a 2,600 foot long, wooden elevated boardwalk from the parking lot to the first lake which allows visitors to enjoy views of the lake, the Sea of Okhotsk and the surrounding mountains without damaging the fragile ecosystem. The boardwalk is free to use, wheelchair accessible and open for the entire season (late April to late November). Aside from the elevated boardwalk, there are 1.85 miles of regular nature trails that lead around the picturesque five lakes and take approximately 90 minutes to traverse.
Bears are very common in the area and are the most active during the months of May through July. For safety reasons, visitors are obliged to join a guided tour which costs ¥5,000. The guided tour lasts 2-3 hours and visitors are required to watch a short video which provides the essentials of what to do in the event of a bear encounter.
Not far from Shiretoko Goko you will find the Oshinkoshin Falls. Designated as one of Japan’s best 100 waterfalls, its name translated from the Ainu language means the beautifully forked waterfalls.
A staircase enables visitors to get closer to the rushing waters of the falls. There is an observatory located at the top of the waterfalls from which you can glimpse views of the Sea of Okhotsk and the Shiretoko mountain range. Parking is free at the site and public toilets and a souvenir shop are available.
The Oshinkoshin Falls are easily accessible by the Shari bus from the Shiretoko-shari bus terminal, next to Hotel Grantia Shiretoko-Shari Ekimae. However, due to the low frequency of buses, driving would be advisable.
If you happen to be visiting the Shiretoko Peninsula, why not travel to the Oshinkoshin Falls and see why it was selected as one of eight beautiful sites of Shiretoko.
Photo credits: Izumi Walker