Exploring northernmost Japan's fresh wilderness

Photo by Joshua Mellin
Exploring the wilds of Hokkaido was an enlightening adventure.

Venturing into the brimming beauty of Shiretoko National Park on a bear walk yielded some of the most outstanding vistas in Hokkaido. The winding paths led to a variety of breathtaking cliffs that all felt unique. The diversity of wildlife on display offered an up-close view of the diversity of one of the richest ecosystems on the planet.

Shiretoko Ezo owl

Climbing Asahi-dake, the island’s tallest peak, was an awe-inspiring experience that showed off the majesty of the Daisetsuzan National Park and the beauty of the region’s early fall foliage from the ropeway. The grand serenity of Japan’s northern-most main island has remained with me long after my visit.

Asahi dake Asahi dake

Camping at Lake Kussharo is one of my favorite memories. Grilling our fill of yakitori and drinking matcha beer in the natural onsen into the late hours made for the most rejuvenating night with friends new and old. I will always think back fondly on waking up at sunrise to look for Kussie the sea monster through the rolling fog over the volcanic lake.

Lake kussharo Lake kussharo


Joshua Mellin


freelance journalist based in US. Contributes to CNN Travel, Lonely Planet, The Daily Beast, and elsewhere.

Access & Maps

Shiretoko National Park
Daisetsuzan National Park
Akan-Mashu National Park
Lake Kussharo