Hokkaido island is a breath of fresh air. The people, more welcoming and friendly than in the city, make a huge effort to converse with us in spite of our lack in Japanese communication skills. The hitchhiking sessions are getting easier, and are often accompanied by a very appreciated fresh meal or drink. Japanese hospitality…we should start writing a book!
With our spirits high, we arrive in brown bear territory, Shiretoko National Park (UNESCO World Heritage Site, 2015). We have chosen Utoro, a fishing village, as a base camp. The feeling of being completely cut off from the world is a reality. Will we find some sustainable tourism actors in this area?
The first days here mainly consist in getting to know the area. The parc allows us to participate in all sorts of activities: boat cruising to observe the local wildlife, canoe & kayaking, hiking, and lets not forget the relaxing onsens (natural hot water sources). For our part, we will mainly be opting for hiking, a financially economic activity, which allows us to study the visitor centres, the trails, and to meet the local guides and educators. Watch out for the bears!
Meanwhile, eco-structures susceptible to host us remain hard to find. We have offered our services to the local nature centres, but unfortunately, the reforestation program will only start in the spring. However, we still got the opportunity to learn more about the reforestation program, and its wind barriers built to protect the trees from the intense local climate (heavy snow and wind).
The local nature centres demonstrate that this country is already very advanced in terms of fauna and flora conservation, education and interpretation. What work! There is a true desire to share this beautiful heritage with the future generations. The few photos below will give you more information on the tools and techniques used by these centres.
Latest news : we are Tuesday September 13th, and we have just received a new email. A small hostel, Iruka Hotel, located alongside the National Park, is willing to host us for a week. Finally, our first eco-structure! Now its our turn to do the work.