Rausu-dake Hiking

羅臼岳 | Chacha-Nupuri

Posted on Sep 27, 2023

Posted on Sep 27, 2023

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Highest point



Best season icon (Hokkaido Wilds)

Best season





Rausu-dake 羅臼岳 (1661m) is the highest peak on eastern Hokkaido’s Shiretoko Peninsula. On a clear day, the summit offers expansive views of Hokkaido’s only UNESCO World Heritage Site—well-known for its brown bears, birds, and marine life—and the Okhotsk Sea. The hike is popular, in part, because Kyūya Fukada included Rausu-dake as one of the nine Hokkaido mountains in his widely read 100 Famous Japanese Mountains. Fukada-san and UNESCO knew what they were doing when they shone their spotlight on this stunning volcano.

We visited this route on Aug 10, 2023

Koharu Fujita contributed photos to this post.


Route Map

Need to know details


Rausu-dake is located in far eastern Hokkaido on the Shiretoko Peninsula. The summit can be viewed from the lookout at the top of the Shiretoko Pass 334, which runs from Utoro in Shari Town in the north to Rausu Town on the southern side of the peninsula. This hike starts from the mountain’s northern trailhead at Kinoshita Hut, 13km east of the Shiretoko World Heritage Center.

General notes

Rausu-dake is the Japanese name for the mountain, while the Ainu call it Chacha-Nupuri, the Father Mountain. It’s a full-day hike, so it’s recommended that you sleep near the trailhead. The least expensive option is the Shiretoko Campground for 500 yen per person. The Kinoshita Hut is located at the start of the trail and costs 2500 yen per person. Wherever you choose to sleep, there are toilets and untreated water at the beginning of the trail (232m). The summer hiking season is from mid-June through September. There is also a campsite one hour below the summit if you want to split the hike over two days. Bring wag bags because you are required to pack out all human waste (general info about packing out human waste in Hokkaido here and here).

Route Timing
Up | 5hrs
Down | 5hrs

The trail starts from the car park and is well-defined with signposts and painted markers along the entirety of the trail. You can sign in and out at the kiosk at the trailhead. The first hour of hiking is on a well-graded trail climbing through a mixed forest. After two hours of hiking, you arrive at a small creek (781m), and soon after the trail begins to climb steeply alongside a drainage surrounded by scrubby vegetation. After a couple more hours of hiking, you’ll arrive at a saddle with a designated campsite (1348m) and bins for protecting your food from bears overnight. At this point, the trail turns southwest towards the summit. You’ll walk through shoulder-high dwarf pines before arriving at a spring (1455m). The last 30 minutes to the summit involves scrambling on all fours, and the route is well-marked with yellow arrows. Return the same way you ascended.


Public transport:

You can catch a bus from the Shari-Shiretoko Station to the Iwaobetsu bus stop and walk 2km to the trailhead. Taxis: Shari Taxi (斜里ハイヤー) 0152-23-2100, Utoro Kankō Taxi (ウトロ観光ハイヤー) 0152-24-2121.

By car: 

From Shari Town head east on Route 335 along the coast for 40km and turn left into Shiretoko National Park on Route 93. Continue for 5km turning right onto an unmarked road that parallels the Iwaobetsu River for 2km to the Chi no Hate Hotel parking lot. There is limited parking in the lot, so hikers park along the road just before the parking lot. Be prepared for many people on a weekend with a favorable weather forecast. There were dozens of cars lining the road when we hiked.


Kinoshita Hut (full details here)

The Kinoshita Hut 木下小屋, a log hut built in 1986, is conveniently located at the Rausu-dake trailhead on the Utoro side of the Shiretoko Peninsula. It is a simple hut with no food or bedding provided. The hut has an onsen that guests can use individually, although it’s essentially a wild onsen with no established place to use soap. The hut is open from mid-June till end of September – it is not available for use in winter.

Physical maps
GSI Topo Map: Shiretokogoko (知床五胡) – map no. NL-55-30-16-3
GSI Topo Map 2: Rausu (羅臼) – map no. NL-55-30-16-2

NOTE: The GSI 1/25000 topo map(s) above can be purchased for 350yen each from Kinokuniya bookstore next to Sapporo Station or online (in Japanese).

route safety

This is a high mountain with an open scramble to the summit (expect challenging, slippery rocks in wet conditions) that is exposed to the wind. It is likely to be much cooler than down at the trailhead, so carry appropriate waterproof and warm layers to avoid the risk of hypothermia. Also, Shiretoko is famous as a brown bear sight-seeing destination, so take bear precautions seriously. There are bells and bear spray available for rent at the trailhead hut (Kinoshita Hut) if you don’t have your own.

Weather forecast

Windy.com weather forecast for Rausu-dake

Onsen nearby

There are two terrific wild onsen easily accessed from the trailhead. Sandan Onsen is the first you come to as you walk into the woods below the Chi no Hate Hotel parking lot. It has three pools cascading into each other with the topmost pool being extremely hot and the pools getting cooler as you descend. A couple more minutes down the path and you’ll come to the intimate Takami Onsen. It was too hot for our August visit, but it was the perfect temperature for a prior May soak. Cooling off in the adjacent creek is also highly recommended. All of the pools are co-ed, and there are no facilities for changing. If you want an onsen where you can use soap and shampoo with a shower, you can head to Utoro in Shari Town for the Yuhidai Onsen.

Extra Resources

Guide Options

If you’d like to hike this route and/or explore other hikes in the central Hokkaido area together with a local certified guide, get in touch with Yasuko Kikuchi. Born and raised in Hokkaido, she’s a JMGA-certified guide now based in Sapporo. Her outdoor experience is broad and worldwide, having worked as a Canadian Ski Patrol member, and has sumitted a number of 6,000m+ peaks around the world. She speaks good English. In addition to Yasuko, also see a full list of English-speaking Hokkaido Mountain Guides Association (HMGA) guides on the HMGA website here

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Show Full Route Notes Close Route Notes

Route Trip Notes

Roo and I started dreaming about multi-day backpacking trips as soon as we met. And we decided it was time to pack our bags when my boss told me I didn’t have to work during summer vacation. We considered our potential destinations and chose Shiretoko because Roo had never been there and because photos of the traverse from Rausu-dake to Io-zan were otherworldly.

Now’s the time for a spoiler: We were planning to hike the traverse over two days (that will have to wait for a future trip report); however, on the second morning, and almost halfway through the traverse, Roo fell as the trail crossed a scree field and hurt her ankle. We decided to retrace our steps because we didn’t know the trail’s condition ahead. It took us two days to hike out, and when Roo went to the doctor she found out that she had fractured her fibula. She’s now finished wearing her cast and working on rehabbing her ankle, and we’re looking forward to the traverse next summer. I’ll take creative license in writing this trip report and imagine we were on a day hike up Rausu-dake for the purposes of familiarizing you with the route that this post focuses on.

Back to the adventure, we had no time constraints so we made our way east in a leisurely fashion. Soaking in multiple wild onsen at Lake Kussharo, camping, and swimming on the lakeshore was the ideal summer vacation pace. We arrived at the Kinoshita Hut the night before we started hiking, enjoyed a lengthy soak in Sandan Onsen, and slept well before starting to hike the next morning.

We had a big oatmeal breakfast and began hiking a bit later than the numerous groups that started filing past at 4am. The forecast called for a high around 30 degrees, but it was humid and I started sweating as soon as I put on my backpack. It felt much hotter than the forecasted temperatures during our entire visit to Shiretoko.

The lush, mixed forest immediately felt reminiscent of backpacking in Northern California. Staying true to similar climates in North America, there was even an abundance of poison ivy. The patches were particularly thick on wetter, north-facing slopes and it thinned out and entirely disappeared once we’d been hiking for a couple hours. This hike is superb for experiencing a wide-range of plant species while transitioning between aspects and elevations in the hike from just above sea-level to the rocky summit. A couple hours into the hike the mature shirakaba and conifers disappeared along with the switchbacks and the trail started to ascend more rapidly through scrubby undergrowth. We were occasionally scrambling around rocks and boulders as we made our way to the saddle below the summit. We dropped our packs at the campsite to enjoy the summit with no unnecessary gear.

The final 30 minutes of hiking to the summit is glorious. It felt like I was back on one of my childhood summits in the Northeastern U.S. There was lots of rock hopping and fun scrambling required to arrive at the summit marker. We had a blue sky with fluffy cumulus clouds and noone in sight as we relaxed to appreciate the beauty. And, your hike down promises to be similarly magnificent.

Post-script: As mentioned previously, our initial intention was to traverse along the range to Io-zan. Our first night on the trail, therefore, allowed us some tantalizing views northeast, of what awaits us when we do finally get back there to complete the traverse. Next time!

Comments | Queries | Reports

Done this Rausu-dake route? Thinking of doing it? Please post any feedback or queries here. Thanks!

6 thoughts on “Rausu-dake Hiking”

    1. Hi Evgeny, thanks for the query. Weather-wise, you should expect some fresh snow and some ice in late October. As for bears, they won’t be hibernating by then, so the usual precautions apply. I hope this helps!

  1. Thinking of doing this hike next week (June 16th to June 18th at some point). What would the weather typically be like? Also, what are the chances of seeing/coming into contact with a bear?

    1. Hey Rob, apologies for the late reply. Weather will be quite nice – a bit cool, some snow remaining here and there. Chances of seeing a bear is about as high as it gets anywhere in Japan, but still unlikely…not really sure how to quantify the likelihood sorry. We hear of hikers seeing bears in Shiretoko, but we’ve not seen any while recreating there yet.

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Rausu-dake Hiking Difficulty Rating





Vertical Gain



Time ascending















GRADES range from A (very difficult) to D (easy). Hazards include exposure to avalanche and fall risk. More details here. Rating rubric adapted from Hokkaido Yukiyama Guidebook 北海道雪山ガイド.