Sample Itinerary

The tours featured throughout our website are intended to give you ideas for what's possible when you travel with us. Treat them simply as inspiration, because your trip will be created individually by one of our specialists to match your tastes and budget.


Meet at the tour hotel in the center of Kushiro. Enjoy a Welcome Dinner at a local Robatayaki restaurant. Robatayaki is a style of cooking on an open hearth called an Irori and said to originate in Kushiro. Fishermen of northern Japan have cooked in this way for more than a century and the technique has now spread throughout the country. Our dinner is grilled seafood of the highest quality.

Lake Akan

Travel this morning by private vehicle to Kushiro marshland, Japan’s largest wetland area with a diverse ecosystem and Japan’s first Ramsar Site. The area is home to the red-crowned crane, a national treasure and loved by birdwatchers, as well as abundant other wildlife. Walk through the forest to the observatory overlooking the vast marshland and then continue on trails through the marsh exploring the local flora and fauna. After the walk, we head onwards in our vehicle to Lake Akan, a crater lake in the Lake Akan National Park. The area is home to the largest community of indigenous Ainu people Hokkaido. We stay here for two nights in a lovely Onsen hot spring hotel in a lakeside setting.

Walking distance: 6.8km / 4.2 miles
Elevation gain: negligible ascent and descent
Time required: 3 hours

Lake Akan

Today we climb Mount Meakandake, an active volcano whose peak reaches 1,499m and which has formed the landscape around Lake Akan. We hike through wonderful scenery. Ainu legend says that Mount Meakandake and Mount Oakandake were a married couple, but Oakandake was unfaithful to his wife. The volcanic activity which continues to this day symbolizes the strife between them.

Gaze across the landscapes of Mount Oakandake and Lake Onneto, watching out for alpine flowers unique to Hokkaido.

Walking distance: 6.6km / 4.1 miles
Elevation gain: 788m/2585 feet ascent; 788m/2585 feet descent
Time required: 4.5 hours

Kawayu Onsen

This morning we visit the Akanko Ainu Kotan Village to learn about the history and culture of Hokkaido’s indigenous inhabitants, the Ainu. We watch a traditional dance performance, officially recognized as an important feature of Japan’s cultural heritage.

Afterward, we travel by our private vehicle to Kawayu Onsen and enjoy a lovely walk to Mount Iou, known as Atosa Nupuri or ‘Naked Mountain’ in the Ainu language. Today, Mount Iou is a very active volcano and we will watch as sulfur rises from the more than 1,500 fumaroles covering its slopes.

Our lodging tonight is a charming Ryokan inn in Kawayu Onsen. The town is famous for having some of the highest-quality thermal waters in the whole of Hokkaido. Kawayu Onsen’s name in the Ainu language is ‘Seseki-petsu’, meaning ‘hot river flowing through the village’.

Walking distance: 5.2km / 3.2 miles
Elevation gain: negligible ascent and descent
Time required: 2.5 hours

After a short journey by private vehicle, we reach Lake Mashu. Known as one of the clearest lakes in the world and one of the most beautiful in the whole of Japan, Lake Mashu is often shrouded in mist during the summer months, giving it an air of mystery.

After climbing on foot to the peak of Nishibetsudake, we descend the other side of the mountain, enjoying amazing views of the vast grass farmland unique to Hokkaido. After the hike, we continue by private vehicle to Abashiri, a modern town that relies on its fishing industry. Our accommodation tonight is a lovely Onsen Ryokan.

Walking distance: 11.4km / 7.1 miles
Elevation gain: 553m/1814 feet ascent; 763m/2503 feet descent
Time required: 5 hours

Today we enjoy optional cycling or walking through one of the largest wildflower nature reserves in Japan beside Lake Saroma, Japan’s third-largest lake with a length of 20 kilometers. In the Wakka Nature Center, we can spot hundreds of different types of flowering plants.

Later, we visit the Museum of Northern People and learn more about the indigenous peoples inhabiting the north. The Ainu have a history stretching back over 2,000 years to the time of their arrival in Hokkaido from Siberia; the area also has mysterious traces of an even earlier culture called the Moyoro.

We make our way to Utoro Onsen, a pleasant hot-spring town and gateway to the vast Shiretoko Wilderness. This is a perfect base for our next three nights in a local hotel enjoying the Onsen baths and regional delicacies.

Cycling/Walking distance: up to 20km / 12.5 miles
Elevation gain: negligible ascent and descent
Time required: 2 hours

If the weather is kind today, we enjoy a boat ride on the Sea of Okhotsk. From the sea, there are stunning views of the Shiretoko Peninsula’s dramatic coastline and perhaps even glimpses of Hokkaido brown bears and their cubs, as well as deer, foxes, and marine life such as dolphins and whales. If the weather is not calm enough for the boat ride, we’ll stay on land and hike a lovely waterfall path instead.

In the afternoon we travel by local bus to the famous Shiretoko Five Lakes, spending time on the picturesque nature trails there.

Walking distance:  3.4km / 2.1 miles
Elevation gain: negligible ascent and descent
Time required: 1.5 hours

Today begins with a local bus journey to the start of today’s walk past picturesque lakes and onwards to Lake Rausu, recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site and the largest lake on the Shiretoko Peninsula. Here there are stunning views of Mount Rausu, the highest peak of the peninsula. This is a wonderfully remote area whose beauty is not widely known. We provide boots for the uniquely enjoyable mud trail before returning to our lodgings in Utoro Onsen.

Walking distance:  6.3km
Elevation gain: 187m/613 feet ascent; 187m/613 feet descent
Time required: 3 hours

Image source: Ministry of Environment

After breakfast, our guide will arrange a transfer to Memanbetsu Airport for your return flight to Tokyo or Osaka airport.

What Our Customers Have To Say

The tours featured throughout our website are intended to give you ideas for what's possible when you travel with us. Treat them simply as inspiration, because your trip will be created individually by one of our specialists to match your tastes and budget.

John Moawad

Classical Japan Tour

It was our first trip to Japan. Working with Jeff was a pleasure. His knowledge of the country and local contacts were very helpful. Choice...

Marina Boyer

North Central Exploration

Working with Jeff at Rediscover Tours was a wonderful experience. He helped me plan a 10 day trip of a lifetime to Japan with my mother...

Edan Ecker

Shoguns and Samurai

I would like to take this opportunity to commend and thank you for the marvelous vacation we recently enjoyed in Japan. The entire experience exceeded...

Our Team Of Local Experts

Our team of Japan experts have all lived in Japan for years and know its the hidden treasures. Our team is here to answer all your questions and to build your tour just the way you want it.

Jeff Aasgaard

Tour Sales Director

Jeff was born in a south suburb of Chicago named South Holland and lived in Japan for 14 years. He now lives in Commerce Township, Michigan with his wife Yoshimi, son Shota, and daughter Mina. He enjoys playing with his kids, volunteering with his daughter’s marching band, cycling and training and teaching Aikido.

Michiyo Kakiuchi

Tour Arrangement Manager

Michiyo was born in Noboribetsu, Hokkaido Prefecture though currently lives in Takarazuka, Hyogo Prefecture. Her main passions in life is traveling all around the world and enjoying their cultures.

Izumi Yamauchi

Tour Arrangement team

Izumi has spent most of her life in the Kansai region, except for the 10 years that she enjoyed in the UK. Living abroad has made her appreciate her own culture and local beauty even more. She currently lives in Osaka with her family, including two cats and two dogs.

Why Rediscover Tours

Great trips don't just happen; it takes expert knowledge and years of experience to create a truly memorable holiday. You can rely on Rediscover Tours to make your perfect Japanese experience. Our dedication to excellence makes the difference.

Trips Made for You

Your Japan travel expert will create your trip just for you

Your interests and travel style will be front and center when designing your tour

Accommodations will be selected based on your style and we will inform them of all your special meal and physical requirements

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Your Japan expert has lived in Japan or is Japanese

They know the hidden treasures of Japan that you will love and most tourists miss

Most of our team lives in Japan giving them first hand knowledge of the latest trends and experiences for you to enjoy

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Private local guides add a whole new depth to your Japanese tour

We only hire the best guides and review each trip with them insuring excellent experience

Your private guide will listen to you, show you sights of interest and will make on the fly changes to match the weather and crowds

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Rediscover Tours has been organizing travel to Japan since 2000

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