Rebun Island – The undiscovered retreat of Hokkaido
Second in the series of secret islands in Hokkaido, is Rebun. With a tiny population of 2000 residents, Rebun island is a sibling of Rishiri. Surrounded by the Sea of Japan, it boasts secluded mountains with gentle hilly curves decorated with wild flowers in the warmer season. Deliciously fresh seafood adds an extraordinary zing to this faraway land. Low altitudes and fewer mountains makes it much easier to trek and to witness the greens and blues of the island. There are plenty of places in Rebun, where you can feast your eyes on nature’s chemistry; below are some of the top spots.
1. Momoiwa Observatory:
Pull up your socks and keep a bottle of water, reaching Momoiwa observatory might be a challenge. However, the view at the top is certain to knock you off. From the summit, you can see Peach rock and Neko rock (cat rock) in blue sea. The entire area is designated as a national treasure due to the variety of indigenous mountain flora.
2. Sukoton Misaki:
The northernmost tip of the island, Cape Sukoton has a magnificent view of the sea with strangely shaped rocky islands. From the cape, on a clear day you can see Russia’s largest island Sakhalin (a reason for dispute between Russia and Japan).
3. Gorota Misaki:
A half an hour climb to Cape Gorota observatory will take you through a trail covered with flowers as you breath the fresh air. At the end of your climb, you will find a panoramic view of Cape Sukotan and Rishiri fuji.
4. Jizoiwa Rocks and Menou Beach:
On the Motochi coast of the Sea of Japan, quietly lays the Menou beach. It is surrounded by huge rocky structures, out of which Jizoiwa rock (guardian deity of children) is a popular one. Menou is a good place for a quick stopover to experience a crimson sun set and calm sea.
5. Sukai Misaki:
The waters around Sukai Misaki appears blue, green, or emerald green depending on sunlight. Cape Sukai is also known for its delicious grilled Tako (Octopus), which you can taste on the way to the cape.
Kusyuko is the northernmost lake of Japan and the only one in Rebun. It is a good place for setting up a camp and to stay close to the nature. White skunk cabbages and the endangered Rebun Atsumoriso flower can be found around the lake from mid of April to June.
7. Todojima Observatory:
From this observatory, Todo Island (Sea Lion Island) inhabited by Seabirds, Sea lions and Seals can be viewed.
Photo Credit Robertthompson CC.BY.2.0
Trekking at Rebun:
Hachijikan haikingu (eight hours hiking) is the most popular trekking course at Rebun. It covers all the prominent sightseeing places and offers a thrilling view of the island. Starting at Sukotan Misaki, the course will take you through a fishermen village where you can see kelps drying. Conducted in groups, the trek runs from the northern to southern tip. Smaller courses for beginners are also available. Here is Rebun’s official website, where you can find trekking and other information.
For a detailed map of the island go here.
Seafood at Rebun:
While you are Rebun, do not miss the taste of fresh Uni (Sea Urchin) which you can open yourself at the Unimuki experience center, reservation is recommended (+81 163-87-2506). You can also buy other seafood products here. Yaki (grilled) Atka Macekrel with miso is also worth trying. Here is a list of the restaurants at Rebun.
Accommodation at Rebun islands:
Small hotels, family run bed & breakfast rooms, youth hostels and camping will be your options for staying at Rebun. Here’s a list of accommodation available on the island.
How to go to Rebun Island and travel around?
To go to Rebun, first you need to reach Wakkanai. Ways to reach Wakkanai are:
1) Catch a plane from Sapporo to Wakkanai (50 minutes).
2) Get on the JR Super Soya and Sarobetsu Limited Express trains from Sapporo to Wakkanai (6 hours).
3) Jump on to Soya Bus from Sapporo to Wakkanai (6 hours).
Once in Wakkanai, head to the ferry terminal (you can use Soya bus again) and get on the Heartland ferry to Kafuka ferry terminal.
Rebun is also connected to Rishiri by Heartland ferry. You can rent a car from Wakkanai or at the island. Prior reservations is recommended for rental cars such as Nippon rental (Local Ph.0163-89-6677), Toyota rental (Ph. 0163-86-1117 ) from the island. Tourist taxis, rental bikes and regular sight seeing Soya buses are also available.
- The annual Itsukushima Shrine’s festival is held at Kafuka from 14th -16th of July. Enjoy the Shishi-mai (Lion dance) and other traditional shrine activities.
- Don’t forget to carry bug sprays, anti-itch creams such as Muhi -ムヒ and long sleeved pants and shirts for trekking.
- Rebun is most popular for it’s sunset, don’t miss it.
Sunset at the west coast of Rebun Island. Photo Credit photozou.jp
If you have any comments or questions then do let me know. As always, thank you for reading.
7 thoughts on “Rebun Island – The undiscovered retreat of Hokkaido”
Awesome photography! Just found your site and it is amazing! Makes me want to buy a plane ticket right now! Keep up the good work. Love all the food, the writing, the photos – well done!
Thank you for your kind words 🙂 these comments makes me keep going ❤
Hihi how do you get around Rebun, is there a hop on hop off bus.
Driving or trekking is the best way to get around Rebun. Soya bus http://www.soyabus.co.jp/rosen1.html do run some tours but I dont think frequency is great. You can also check with the hotel where you plan to stay on any local tours which they might run.
Your posting of Rebun island is excellent. I plan to travel to Rebun in the next few days for 3-5 days. Do you think I need to book a room beforehand, or is it ok to just go and sort all out after arriving? Is there any benefit to taking a car to Rebun? (It seems to defeat the purpose of being in that environment – but may be convenient in terms of getting around.) Are there any traditional Japanese hotels (Ryokan) there? I realize that your posting is from 2016. Thank you.
Apologies for the delay in response. Thank you for your kind comments 🙂 I am currently on maternity break and rarely check my computer. It is probably a little too late for me to answer your questions. However, how did you go with your trip? Booking a room beforehand is always better when travelling to smaller places such as Rebun and Rishiri especially in the busy season. Did you end up taking a car? How was your experience?
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