Bear-watching attracts hikers to Hokkaido national park
Japan Times -- Sep 10
The opportunity to see wild brown bears in their natural environment has made a national park in Hokkaido a popular hiking destination.

The hiking route in Daisetsuzan National Park is open for about a three-month period from late June to early October. It is closed when the park's information center judges conditions too dangerous.

Hikers are allowed to walk along the trail without a guide, but only after attending a lecture about brown bears, including prohibited behaviors such as cooking in the forest, eating at certain locations and leaving waste behind.

The 7-km-long route takes visitors through a mountainous area dotted with ponds in Kamikawa, affording them a good chance of spotting bears from a distance. Since the opening of a supervisory office in 1994, there have been no reported incidents between people and bears.

"If we keep an adequate distance, we can coexist," the center says.

The writers of Lonely Planet included the hiking route, called Daisetsu Kogen Onsen Spa Numameguri, in one of its travel guidebooks, and through this more foreign tourists have visited the national park in recent years.

One early morning in August a couple from Germany were excited to see an adult brown bear with a cub grazing on grass about 200 meters away. Using telescopes, the couple took a closer look at them, which stood at about 1 to 1.5 meters tall.

"Many of the bears here are gentle in nature and quickly run away when approached," said Hitoshi Yanagisawa, 43, an official at the brown bear information center.

Because of the area's lush, rich vegetation, close to 30 bears are spotted at the popular feeding spot every summer.

Hikers can access the route from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. during the open period. Information center officials patrol the route every day and post information on a notice board in the center on locations of recent bear sightings or where footprints have been found.

According to the Hokkaido Prefectural Government, 14 incidents involving brown bears were reported throughout the prefecture in the five years to March 2016. In some cases, people were attacked when they entered the forest to gather wild plants to eat.

News source: Japan Times
Feb 16
Slightly increased volcanic activity has been reported at Mount Io in southwest Japan. (NHK)
Feb 12
Tourists and residents in Japan who don't speak Japanese no longer need to be concerned about missing out on earthquake and tsunami alerts. (Japan Times)
Feb 09
Famed wild deer in the city of Nara appear to be growing increasingly frustrated with tourists who make them wait to munch on crackers while trying to frame the perfect photo. (Japan Times)
Feb 06
While in Japan, you absolutely should visit Hiroshima's Miyajima island, but while there, you definitely shouldn't do this. (
Feb 05
Travelling has become a part of everyone's life; we can go on trips around our own country or to a foreign one. Despite the purposes of travelling, we usually want to prepare ourselves as quickly as possible to arrange all conveniences and important nuances, no matter whether it is a business trip, several hours travel, tourist trip or family journey. (
Feb 04
A bean-throwing event was held at Naritasan Shinshoji, a major Buddhist temple in Chiba Prefecture, east of Tokyo, on Sunday, the day of "Setsubun" in Japan. (Jiji)
Feb 03
Snow blanketed Tokyo and surrounding areas for the second time this winter on Friday, disrupting transport and forcing delays in entrance exams at educational institutions. (Japan Today)
Feb 02
Around 1,200 people lined up on Thursday morning at Tokyo’s Ueno Zoo to see giant panda cub Xiang Xiang and mother Shin Shin, as a first-come, first-served system for viewing the animals kicked off. (Japan Times)
Feb 01
A group of geisha and their apprentices in Japan's ancient city of Kyoto have copied Buddhist scriptures to learn more about traditional culture. (NHK)
Jan 31
The Japan Meteorological Agency raised its volcanic alert for Mount Zao in northeastern Japan on Tuesday as it detected signs of a possible small-scale eruption of the 1,841-meter mountain. (Jiji)