Kushiro, known as the "town of mist", is situated in the south eastern part of Hokkaido. With about 200,000 inhabitants, it is the largest city in the region and the base for deep-sea fishing. The marine products industry of Kushiro has flourished since the early 20th century and many streets of this port town retain features of this era. Thanks to its strategic location on Hokkaido's Eastern Pacific seaboard and the area's only ice free port, Kushiro is experiencing steady growth as an important economic, social and cultural centre. A literary atmosphere can be attributed to the poet and novelist Takuboku Ishikawa, who lived here in the early 20th century.
To the north of Kushiro lies one of its most renowned attractions, the Kushiro Shitsugen, Japan's largest marshland. Stretching out over the majority of the Kushiro Plain, it accounts for 60 percent of Japan's wetland and was designated to become the country's 28th National Park in 1987. As the marsh is considered one of the greatest treasure houses of flora and fauna in Japan, its protection, preservation and wise use are promoted by a national agreement.
Equally famous is the marshland as the habitat of the Tancho (Japanese Crane). At one time, it could be seen in many places in Japan, but their numbers dwindled in the Meiji Era due to over hunting and environmental changes. In the late 19th century, the cranes were thought to be almost extinct. Then several dozens cranes were discovered in the depths of the Kushiro Shitsugen, and after establishing special crane reserves, the birds rehabilitation has succeeded.
Going Ashore in Kushiro
Kushiro's shops are essentially geared to local residents rather then international tourists. However, browsing in stores around the town centre may be an interesting experience to get an idea what the local population buys for their daily needs. The local currency is the Japanese Yen.
Fresh seafood and typical Japanese fare are on most menus. Local specialties include 'hanasaki gani', a type of crab that turns from black to red when cooked.
Fisherman's Wharf MOO
This popular multi-purpose complex standing beside Nusamai Bridge and near the port, offers everything from shopping to eating and drinking. The entire building is covered with glass and houses an all-season botanical garden called EGG. The shopping zone is open from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Nusamai Bridge The bridge spanning the Kushiro River is the city's landmark symbol. On its railings are four bronze statues depicting the four seasons created by four well-known Japanese sculptors.
This building is home to the Kushiro City Lifelong Learning Centre and the Kushiro City Museum of Art. The architecture resembles a lighthouse covered in glass. With 157 feet (48 metres) it is the highest building in Central Kushiro and offers a splendid panoramic view from the top floor. Kushiro City Museum The museum's exterior offers an interesting architectural view as it represents a Japanese crane spreading its wings. It is closed Mondays. .