Teshio River-mouth Archaeological Walk


Posted on Sep 17, 2020

Posted on Sep 17, 2020

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The Teshio River-mouth Archaeological Site (天塩川口遺跡) is a 1500m by 200m section of oak-forested riverside, dotted with about 240 remains of 3rd till 8th Century AD pit-houses. Archaeologists from Hokkaido University and Tokyo University have reconstructed two such pit-houses. On this pleasant 2km walk, visitors can climb down into the reconstructed dwellings. The walk itself skirts a 1km section of Teshio River-mouth bank, through shady Mongolian oak groves. On the return, the loop continues along a gravel road, giving a glimpse of more contemporary rural Hokkaido living. The walk is accessible from the river by canoe, and would make a nice diversion on the final home stretch on the 6-day Teshio River canoe journey.

We visited this route on Sep 03, 2020


Route Map

Need to know details


This walk is located about 2km upstream of the Teshio River-mouth proper, in Teshio Village on the Japan Sea coast of far north Hokkaido. There’s two trailheads – north and south. The southern trailhead (here) has more signage and parking space, so we recommend starting from there and making the loop.

General notes

This walk is a great place to stretch the legs at the end of your six-day paddle down the Teshio River. It’s also a very nice walk in it’s own right, if passing through the area on your drive north to Wakkanai. The faithfully restored thatched pit-dwellings are open to the public, and you’re very unlikely to be sharing the walk with anyone else – a great way to get away from it all for a half-hour walk in the woods. Note however that when we were there in late August, we were plagued by mosquitoes – to stop to admire the scenery was to be feasted upon. We’d recommend carrying mosquito repellent and wearing long-sleeved clothing if doing this walk in the height of summer.

Route Timing

At a brisk walk, taking time to have a look inside the reconstructed pit-dwellings, this walk will likely take about 45 minutes.


Start from the southern trailhead, and take a right at the first junction. You’ll soon come upon the first of the two reconstructed pit-dwellings. Lights automatically turn on as you descend the wooden ladder into the dark dwelling. The dwellings are open to the public throughout the summer season. Carry on north along the trail, and you’ll soon come to a clearing with a view of the Teshio River. There are a couple of wooden platforms to sit on. The trail continues through the native Mongolian oak grove for another 750m or so. At the final T-junction, go left to get to the river, and go right to get to the northern trailhead. Walkers can either return the way they came through the oak groves, or complete the loop southward on a gravel residential road and then paved footpath back to the southern trailhead.


Public transport:

This route is not accessible by public transport. If accessing this walk from the Teshio River by canoe, we’d expect paddlers can access the trail around here (we’ve not confirmed this).

By car: 

There’s plenty of parking at both the south (here) and north (here) trailheads.



Physical maps
GSI Topo Map: Sarakishi (更岸) – map no. NL-54-17-3-4

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

Weather forecast

Windy.com weather forecast for Tehshio River Archaeological Remains

Onsen nearby

Just a few hundred meters south of the Teshio River mouth proper is the amazing Teshio Onsen (天塩温泉, location, 600yen). The view from the outdoor pool is incredible – you can see Rishiri Island. The water of the onsen itself is very salty – quite unique indeed. There’s also a restaurant attached to the onsen, and a large lounge area with free WIFI. Just next door to the onsen is the Kagaginuma Park Campground (here).

Extra Resources
No extra English resources that we know of. If you know of any, please let us know in the comments.

Guide Options

If you’d like to hike this route and/or explore other areas of central Hokkaido with a local certified guide, then contact Jun Ishiguro. He’s a JMGA (Japan Mountain Guides Association) mountain guide on the board of directors of the Hokkaido Mountain Guides Association (HMGA). As a senior figure in the Hokkaido guiding scene, and with extensive experience, he can tailor trips to your needs. 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

With a favourable weather window at the end of our planned 6-day Teshio River canoe trip, we’d smashed out the last four days in just two. This left us with two extra unplanned days at the end of the trip.


We’d spent the night after finishing the trip at the Kagaminuma Campground. After paddling 63km for 11 hours that same day, we splashed out 3000yen for an auto-camp site, so we could pitch the tent right next to the car.


The next morning, we went for a bit of a gravel-road blat down the spit separating the Japan Sea from the Teshio River. Haidee was excited to see a bird of prey she’d not spotted up close before.

“This is nice,” Haidee said of the beach. “But I’m pretty sure we drove past a nice shady looking forest walk on the way.”

She was right, like the whole previous week, today was hot. Muggy and sticky and despite the cloud cover, the sun felt hot. A shady forest walk was what today called for.

We high-tailed it off the spit, and drove the short 5 minutes back to the forested walk Haidee had spotted. We’d not expected it, but it ended up being a really interesting walk, with reconstructed pit-houses.

About 1700 years of history, right under our noses.

We’d not really planned to walk the full loop, but we had nothing else to do. And the mosquitoes kept us moving. Any pauses in the pace had the critters biting at my bare elbows and legs.

In places, the trail came out at the river. We’d hurried down the last two days of the river, assisted by a nice tailwind from the north the previous day. Today there was a stiff breeze blowing from the south. It wouldn’t have been impossible, and it certainly wasn’t as strong a wind as I had been expecting. But we were happy to be off the water, rather than battling into a headwind.

All along the trail, there were a variety of interesting looking mushrooms. 

Towards the end of the trail, there was one more reconstructed pit-house. Two in total for the walk. Apparently, there are 230 divots in the ground, indicating that once there was quite the village here.

We ended up at the northern trailhead, and debated our options. The forest trail – back the way we came from – was shady and cool. But, the mosquitoes.

In the end, we opted to take the straight and direct gravel road and main road route back to the southern trailhead. This was nice in its own right, passing through some local farms and businesses. Run-down looking, they made us ponder what winter must be like way up here in the north of Hokkaido, on the coast.

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Teshio River-mouth Archaeological Walk Difficulty Rating





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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.