Ochiishi-misaki Wetland spreads on the plateau-shaped small cape protruding into the Pacific Ocean at the base of Nemuro Peninsula in the eastern part of Hokkaido. It is designated as the prefecture’s Natural Environment Preservation District. The wetland is known as the southernmost boundary of Lapland rosebay (Rhododendron parvifolium), which produces little flowers in June. Other rare plants such as skunk cabbage, Hakusanchidori (Orchis aristata) and hare’s tail cotton grass can be seen.
Walking through the wetland and the swamp forest of red pine trees along the wooden trail, you will get to a light house, which is located at the easternmost end of Japan. From there, you can command a panoramic view including unending stretch of the green carpet of the wetland, the dynamic coastline of continuing cliffs and the far-off horizon in the Pacific Ocean.
As a part of natural preservation district, there are no man-made structures, so you can enjoy natural landscapes that remain intact here.
Furen-ko Wetland spreads over the downstream area of the Furen River, which flows into Lake Furen, a brackish lake with a circumference of 96 km in the border of Bekkai Town and Nemuro City. Lake Furen was formed when the water flow was dammed by a huge sandbar created by the coastal current in Nemuro Bay. As it is directly connected to Nemuro Bay, a vast wetland was formed at the mouth of the Furen River.
Furen-ko Wetland is a wildfowl paradise, where nearly 300 species of wild birds can be observed. Those include rare species such as White-tailed eagles, Steller's Sea Eagle, Blakiston's Fish Owl, and red-crowned cranes. Also, migratory birds such as Whooper swans, bean goose and snipes come and stay here for a short period or winter here. Lake Furen and Furen-ko Wetland together with Shunkunitai were designated as a Ramsar Site as Furen-ko and Shunkunitai in 2005.
Notsuke Peninsula is Japan’s largest sand spit, which is a 28 km long fish hook-shaped peninsula jutting into Nemuro Strait on the eastern edge of Hokkaido. Desolate landscape with withered trees called todo-wara and nara-wara continues endlessly. There used to be forests of oak and beech trees in this area, but the trees were blighted by ground subsidence and seawater erosion. Weathering is still in progress now.
Inside the bay is a tidal flatland, where many species of shellfish and crustacean inhabit. Migratory birds such as Whooper swans and geese come to stay here on their migration in spring and fall. Notsuke-hanto Wetland was designated as a Ramsar Site in 2005 and its ecosystem has been protected by the city government.
Shibetsu Wetland is located to the north of Notsuke Peninsula in the eastern part of Hokkaido. The wetland was formed on the sand dune facing Nemuro Straight between the Po River, a tributary of the Ichani River, and the Shibetsu River. The wetland area is a part of Po River Historic Site Natural Park. Generally, the wetland in the upstream area is called Kawakita Wetland and the downstream area is called Sanbongi Wetland.
It is a high moor with 170 ha peatland. Also, tundra plants that have existed since the glacial ages about 3,000 years ago can be seen. A wetland is the most fragile land form and so is a peat moss land. Once it is trampled, it takes a long time to recover. Shibetsu Wetland is designated as National Natural Monument and has been preserved carefully.
Ishikari Plain in Hokkaido used to be a vast wetland, which disappeared with agricultural land development. Presently the primitive state of such land features can only be seen in Bibai City. Bibai Wetland, 440 m long in north to south direction and about 540 m long in east to west direction, is a small wetland surrounded by drainage ditches and barley and rice fields.
The wetland is the habitat of wildlife including rare species of swamp plants as well as large birds and animals such as foxes and swans. As the academic importance of the wetland is highly esteemed, Bibai Research Station of National Agricultural Research Center for Hokkaido Region has conducted research and maintenance of this wetland.
Izunuma and Uchinuma are lakes in Senhoku Plain in Miyagi Prefecture. Covering a total area of 4 square meters, the majority of the surfaces of these shallow lakes is covered with water plants such as lotuses and reeds and provides precious habitat for insects and fish. They were designated as a registered wetland under the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as a Waterfowl Habitat, known as the Ramsar Site in 1985.
Located in the northernmost area of the warm-temperate zone, the surfaces of Izunuma and Uchinuma rarely freeze, even during the coldest seasons. This makes them a popular wintering area for such waterfowl as whooper swans, white-fronted geese and Aleutian Canada goose. At the sunrise, you can see 30,000 goose and ducks flapping their wings all at once. This sound was designated as one of Japan’s 100 Landscapes with Sounds by the Ministry of Environment.
Visitors can enjoy viewing wild birds all through the year from observation deck at Izunuma Uchinuma Visitors Center.
Numaura Wetland located in the southern part of Rishiri Island is a designated Natural Monument of Rishirifuji Town. This wetland along with Otadomari-numa Pond and Minamihara Wetland is selected as one of 500 Important Wetlands in Japan by the Ministry of Environment as Rishiri-to Wetlands.
Communities of swamp plants and alpine plants such as Isotsutsuji (Ledum palustre var. diversipilosum) and northern cranberry are formed. This is also the northernmost boundary of Ezo-tsutsuji (Therorhodion camtschaticum).
The wetland was formed in the explosion crater about 4,000 years ago. The reflected image of Rishiri Fuji on the surface of Otadomari-numa Pond is wonderful.
80% of Japan’s wetlands are located in Hokkaido. With the continuing decrease in the number of wetlands in Japan, Rishiri-to Wetlands are what we must protect and conserve.
Bense Swamp located in Kizukuri Tateoka, Tsugaru City, Aomori Pref. is one of the largest swamps in Tsugaru Qausi-National Park. In the area around this swamp are numerous large and small lakes and pond. Surrounded by Hirataki Pond, Otaki Pond and Bense Pond, this swamp at an altitude of 20 m above sea level has an area of 20 ha, where the community of Nikko-kisuge (Hemerocallis middendorffii var. esculenta) forms a bright orange carpet in June, and the purple community of sword-leaved iris shudders in the breeze in July. The swamp was formed because dead plant layers such as peat moss have heaped up due to the severe climatic conditions. It is unusual that this kind of marshy plant community is formed near the beach. In Honshu and the northeastern part of Hokkaido, it can be seen nowhere other than in the wetland area around Mt. Byobuyama including this swamp. Bense Swamp is a scenic spot where visitors can enjoy bright-colored cute flowers.