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Rishiri-Rebun-Sarobetsu National Park

Land area: 24,166 ha
Designated on September 20, 1974

Photo: Rishiri-Rebun-Sarobetsu

Rishiri-Rebun-Sarobetsu National Park is the northernmost national park in Japan as it is located in the most northerly part of Hokkaido. The area has abundant endemic and rare species, particularly plants. It also has a rich natural environment in which a variety of waterfowl and sea creatures live.

A National Park which Includes Two Islands and a Coastline of Mainland Hokkaido

Map: Rishiri-Rebun-Sarobetsu

Rishiri-Rebun-Sarobetsu National Park consists of three areas: Rishirito Island and Rebunto Island, which are the two islands on the Japan Sea in the north of Hokkaido, and an area in northern mainland Hokkaido which includes the coastline extending from Bakkai to the mouth of the Teshiogawa River via Wakasakanai and the Sarobetsugen'ya Plain.

Two Islands with Contrasting Characteristics

Rishirito Island is an almost round island of about 15 km in diameter with Mt. Rishirizan (1,721 m) towering in its center. As the mountain is volcanic and conical in shape with a wide base, it is sometimes called Rishiri-Fuji (the Mt. Fujisan of Rishiri). The landscape on its upper part is steep and rough as deep valleys have developed through erosion. Up to about 500 m above sea level, the mountain is covered with a forest of both coniferous and broadleaf trees and above this point, the flora changes to subalpine scrubs. At the top of the mountain, a field of profusely blossoming alpine plants can be seen.
Rebunto Island located in the northwest of Rishirito Island is a long and narrow island about 6 km wide from east to west, and about 22 km long from north to south. Unlike Rishirito, the island is not volcanic. The whole island is hilly and the highest mountain, Mt. Rebundake, is only 490 m above sea level. The coastline of the island's west side is rough with abrasion cliffs of 100 – 200 m high. As the island is exposed to strong wind, there are communities of wind beaten alpine plants. Because of its isolated natural conditions, many endemic and rare plants such as Rebun lady's slipper (Cypripedium macranthum var. rebunense) grow here and the island is called "The Flowery Floating Island".
While no large mammals such as brown bears and Ezo shika deer or reptiles live on the two islands, seabirds fly to their sea cliffs, and Steller's sea lions and spotted seals can be seen on the coast. A variety of wild birds live in their grasslands, forests and alpine belts, and the islands also serve as stopping points for migratory birds.

Sarobetsugen'ya Plain

The northernmost coastline of Hokkaido which extends from Bakkai to the mouth of the Teshiogawa River via Wakasakanai, has a peculiar landscape with bands of sand dunes dotted with ponds and wetlands between them. The coastline is exposed to strong wind through the year, and there are seaside plants on the shore and wind beaten groves of Japanese oaks (Quercus crispula) in the sand dunes. The Sarobetsugen'ya Plain which stretches along the Sarobetsugawa River is one of the largest peat bogs in Japan. While there is a low moor in the riverside area, the largest high moor in lowland Japan stretches over the central area, where there is no influence from the river water. Each moor has unique bog flora.
In the area that includes the Penke and Panke Ponds in the south of the Sarobetsugen'ya Plain, there are a low moor in which reeds grow and an intermediate moor. The whole Sarobetsugen'ya Plain is a registered wetland under the Ramsar Convention as an important stopping point for migratory birds such as bean gooses and Tundra swans.

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