Rishiri / HokkaidoCamping, fishing, and hiking-get active on one of Hokkaido's remote islands

Mt. Rishiri rising out of Rishiri Island, Hokkaido

Rishiri is a remote island off the coast of northern Hokkaido. Mt. Rishiri looms over the rugged landscape, and small fishing villages are dotted around the shore. The island offers plenty for outdoor types looking for an active getaway: it is a prime spot for camping and hiking in the summer and backcountry skiing in the winter. Log bungalows provide rustic accommodation options and hands-on activities such as catching sea urchins - a local delicacy - add to your travel experience.

Base yourself in nature at the Rishiricho Forest Park Campground

View of the Rishiricho Forest Park Campground, including outdoor cooking facilities

Book a stay in the heart of Rishiri's great outdoors at Rishiricho Forest Park campground. The campsite is located on the west coast of the island, just 1 kilometer south of the town of Rishiri. There are spots to pitch your own tent, or on-site log bungalows that you can reserve. English speaking staff bring down any language barrier and are happy to educate you on the island's geography and flora.

Exterior view of the log bungalows

The cabins are available from the start of May to the end of October every year. Note that the cabins do not have power outlets. Keep a portable battery handy to recharge electrical devices, or engage in a digital detox.

Tatami mat bunk beds inside the cabins

Spend a day walking in the forest or wander along to Rishiri Town. In the evening, fire up some coals in the communal barbeque pits for some al fresco dining. Drop into the campground administrative building for more ideas on things to do and places to eat.

Barbeque pits are available for guests to use

Fresh sea urchin and seaweed souvenirs at Kamui Kaigan Park

Sea urchins (uni) resting on top of kelp (konbu) at Kamui Kaigan Park

Tasting fresh sushi and sashimi is an essential Japanese travel experience, and it doesn't come much fresher - and luxurious - than plucking a sea urchin from the water and eating it on the seashore. In the summer months, between June and September, you can catch sea urchin, or uni, at Kamui Kaigan Park, south of Rishiri Town.

Locals and tourists fish around the shallows for uni

English-speaking staff guide you out to the shallows in a canoe and show you how to hook an uni from the seafloor. Learn how to prize open the spiky sea urchin and how best to consume it. Sea urchin has a creamy texture with a distinctive umami flavor, and is considered a delicacy.

Participants learn how to safely harvest uni

Learn more about the contents of the ocean surrounding Rishiri Island by joining a kelp workshop. Kelp, or konbu, is an essential ingredient in some traditional dashi soup stocks, and this workshop is ideal for fans of Japanese cuisine.

A local konbu farmer laying out kelp to dry; Rishiri kelp is highly regarded for its quality

In this 1,500-yen-workshop, you can learn about the practices of konbu farming and get the chance to customize your own strips of kelp to take home - the ultimate foodie souvenir.

Workshop participants preparing their souvenirs

Trek to the top - hiking Mt. Rishiri and finding its faces

The 1,721-meter-high Mt. Rishiri

Mt. Rishiri dominates the landscape on Rishiri Island. The conical volcano stands in the center of the island and draws comparisons to Mt. Fuji because of its shape. The trailhead that leads to the top begins at the Hokuroku Campground in the north of the island. From the top, spot the neighboring island of Rebun and as far as the Russian island of Sakhalin if the weather is good. Only take on the trek if you have some hiking experience - it's steep and rocky in places.

Hikers nearing the top of Mount Rishiri

If you can't hike the trails, there is another way to explore the volcano and its vicinities. The Mt. Rishiri 16 Scenic Stamp Rally involves driving around the island to discover Mt. Rishiri's sixteen "faces" or viewpoints and collecting a "stamp" at each point. Pick up a 200-yen stamp sheet and map in Rishiri Town from the Rishiri Shima no Eki or the tourist information center inside the ferry terminal. It's a fun activity for families and an excellent way to see the whole island.

The 14th face of Mount Rishiri as seen in June, with wildflowers blooming in the fields

If you complete your stamp sheet, return with it to the purchase point to receive a small souvenir. Note that the stamp rally is suspended during the winter months (November to April).

Access information

Getting to Rishiri Island, Hokkaido:

Rishiri Airport is a one-hour flight from New Chitose Airport, but this service only operates during the summer months. Flights to Wakkanai Airport take 1 hour 50 minutes from Haneda Airport or 55 minutes from New Chitose Airport. From Wakkanai Airport, take a bus to Wakkanai Port (35 minutes) then a ferry to Rishiri Island (1 hour 50 minutes).

*This information is from the time of this article's publication.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change. Unless stated otherwise, prices do not include tax.
*Unauthorized reproduction of material in this article is strictly prohibited.

About “Countryside Stays“

If you’re looking for a new way to experience Japan, sign up for a farm-stay experience through the Countryside Stays Japan program and participate in traditional rural-lifestyle activities in recommended countryside locations.

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