Land area: 38,636 ha
Designated on June 1, 1964
The Shiretokohanto Peninsula is recorded on the UNESCO World Heritage List. It is one of the regions in Hokkaido that enjoy the richest nature. The peninsula faces the Sea of Okhotsk, which is covered with ice floes in winter and fascinates many people with the severe but beautiful view. The park is also a paradise for wildlife where many species of birds and large land and sea mammals live.
Shiretoko National Park includes most of the Shiretokohanto Peninsula, a long and narrow peninsula on the eastern edge of Hokkaido which extends into the Sea of Okhotsk. It is a wedge-shaped peninsula about 65 km long and 25 km wide at its base. The peninsula consists of the Shiretoko Mountain Range and coastal area.
This area enjoys rich nature and is the home of many rare land and sea species. It is especially important as a habitat for various seafowl and migratory birds. As these characteristics are highly valued, the peninsula was placed on the World Heritage List in 2005.
In winter, the surface of the Sea of Okhotsk which the Shiretokohanto Peninsula faces is covered with drift ices from the north. Shiretoko has a special value from a global perspective. Among the sea areas which are covered with floating ice, it is located at the lowest latitude in the northern hemisphere.
On the peninsula, there is a chain of volcanoes which belongs to the Chishima Volcano Range. The forests that extend between the mountains are dotted with small volcanic lakes and marshes. The Cape Shiretokomisaki at the tip of the peninsula is in grassland.
There is a stretch of sheer cliffs on the coast. Particularly, the base of Mt. Iozan (1,563 m) facing the Sea of Okhotsk forms a range of steep cliffs as high as 200 m and presents a spectacular view. In contrast, the Cape Shiretokomisaki is on a marine terrace approximately 30 m high.
While the main vegetation on the peninsula is virgin forests of Sakhalin firs (Abies sachalinensis) and Japanese oaks (Quercus crispula), the timberline is as low as 600 m above sea level since it is located at a high latitude. Above the timberline, many communities of alpine plants can be seen. In particular, Mt. Rausudake (1,661 m), the highest mountain on the peninsula, has well-known fields of flowers in which Shiretokosumire (Viola kitamiana) and other rare plants native to this area grow.
The peninsula is also the home of many animals. Particularly, the habitat density of brown bears is very high compared with other areas in Hokkaido. Shiretoko has a special value as the main habitat of Blakiston's fish owls, one of the endangered birds, in Japan. They mainly feed on trout and salmon swimming up mountain streams to lay eggs.
In the coastal area, in addition to flocks of various seabirds, Steller's sea eagles and other migratory raptors can be seen. In winter, sea creatures such as Steller's sea lions and spotted seals also appear.
In the park, there are few trails up the mountains. The only structures are fisherman's huts used in summer in small plain lands on the beach. Because of this environment, this area has been almost free of human influence and maintains wilderness.
Near the entrance of the park on Utoro side, there is the spot where the "Shiretoko Hundred Square Meters Movement" started. It is an action to restore the natural environment of this area and led to the Japanese National Trust movement. Here, the work to turn old reclaimed land back into forest is carried on.