Shiretoko Kamuiwakka Hot Waterfall

A singular waterfall in the wild with warm water

By Sandro Bernardinello    - 2 min read

Just after the famous Shiretoko Five Lakes, the main and only street turns into a dirt road. The way should lead to a big waterfall but there is no sign to speak of, let alone the shadow of another person. The deserted road and the multiple signs warning of bears puts you on edge. Small streams run through the thick forest shielding the hot sun above. The temperature is sensibly colder and the smell of the plants and trees pleasantly fill the air. Every now and then the woods open into open fields and the dark blue of the Pacific Ocean comes to sight making you gaze at the horizon. In the wider spaces the deer roam unhindered, making them easy to spot. Summer is also the best time to see cute cubs at play, running beside their mothers.

After more than ten kilometers the waterfall finally comes into sight. A wide stream of water runs fast down a narrow valley over large and smooth rocks. At the first sight it would probably let you a bit disappointed as Japan has many nicer waterfalls. A short trail follows the water on one side and stops after just a few steps, going apparently into the river. And that's when you will understand what makes this place different: the water is warm. The feeling is totally unexpected and in a minute you will find yourself walking into the river. As no algae apparently grow in this water, the stones are not slippery at all, making the climb very easy. Going a bit farther up there are several points where the river forms natural pools. Having a bath completely surrounded by nature is a great experience; but the addition of a view over the majestic ocean makes it truly unforgettable.

Getting there

The only easy way to get there is by car (or bike). The only alternative is to walk the 10 km from the Shiretoko Five Lakes or to try to hitch a ride.

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Sandro Bernardinello

Sandro Bernardinello @sandro.bernardinello

Born on a cold day in December 1984, I am a computer engineer in Verona. I love martial arts, travel, Japan, food and of course photography. Photography is not only looking for beautiful pictures, it's more, much more; It means keeping memories, details, and moments that will inevitably become more and more blurred in our memory; it means waking up when everyone is sleeping; getting excited at the frost or under a thunderstorm when everyone is running away; learning to wait and knowing the surrounding environment; looking for new places and exploring forgotten ones, it means being able to see and enjoy what is surrounding us learning to observe with different eyes.

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