Kushiro - Port Guide
Where is the ship/how to get to the sights?
Winter Oct-Feb cold 5-12 degrees Celsius, with snow possible Nov-Feb. Spring: Mar-May 10-18 degrees. Summer: 15-25 degrees. Rain possible year round.
Sights & Sites
- Tancho Crane Reserve: see the cranes, in their enclosures. When we went, there was a family with a baby. There is information on the cranes habitat and their importance to Japanese culture there. This is a lovely place to see the famed beautiful white Japanese cranes up close and learn more about them. Entrance cost: 470-yen (About $5) Ticket shown in PDF section.
- Marshlands: See the marshlands and the museum observatory. Check out the museum for info on the marshlands area, what it is, which animals there, and views over the marsh area. If you have time, you can walk around the close section of the marsh area. Entrance cost 470 yen (about $5) Ticket shown in PDF section.
- Washo Ichiba Market: Has local foods, and great place to try local sashimi and rice dishes. Sashimi is very delicious and not expensive for Japan (around $9 for a large bowl of rice and sashimi). You get to choose which sashimi you’d like and all the food was very fresh and very tasty.
- Kushiro Fisherman’s Wharf MOO Centre: This is situated just 5 minutes walk from the ship (see map below), and as well as being the best place locally to shop for souvenirs, they also had a set up for tourists to try on kimonos. Local ladies assisted tourists in donning the traditional Japanese formal wear, and had kimonos for men and women available. The ladies would help you in the intricate ways to wear it then add accessories such as hair berets, swords for men to hold and parasols for ladies, so you could take photos. This was all free of charge and a lovely treat from Kushiro.
- Kimono trying on in Moo Centre – Locals were here with kimonos for men and women to try on.
Things are close by to the ship in Kushiro, so you have time to fit in a few things in a short space of time here. The Moo Centre is just 5 minutes walk from the ship to the right, and there is Wi-Fi in there and souvenirs to buy and kimonos to try on. Across the street from the Moo Centre are a couple of small local supermarkets, which are good to buy snacks in or toiletries. Washo Ichiba Market with fish market in it is only about 10 minutes walk in land, straight up the first road on the left after turning right, from the ship. Therefore you can reach this quickly and have time to have a nice sashimi lunch or browse the things on sale here too. Or instead of seeing the town, you could also take a taxi out of town to see the Crane Reserve and Marshlands, but just let your taxi driver know your time needs beforehand so you’re back on time. This also might get you the taxi tour for a little less money. The Wi-Fi in the tourist centre building is only about 2 minutes walk from the ship so very easy to get to, with the best connection being inside.
If you only have two hours
Kushiro Fisherman’s Wharf Moo Market on the ground floor is good place to buy local sweets and souvenirs. It is 5 minutes walk from the ship. Some favorites available to buy include Crane Egg sweets, a chocolate fondant filled delicacy, which is popularly given as a gift to dinner hosts. Something cute to look out for is the grabber machine, near the exit farthest from the shipside entrance. Instead of grabbing for toys, you try to catch yourself a live crab! Winners catch the crab as it falls out the chute, into a supplied plastic bag. Worth the 500-yen fee if you win and are taking it home to somewhere other than a cruise ship I imagine.
What is it known for?
The area is known for being one of the northernmost parts of Japan, in the Hokaiddo Prefecture, and being wild and sparse, and much less built up than most cities in Japan. It has a high unemployment rate and harsh winters, but the people are friendly and welcoming and local seafood is divine. It is famous for the sprawling marshlands and the wildlife outside of the towns, such as wild Japanese cranes.
Food & Drink
Sashimi and sushi from the Market is a must to try for all seafood lovers. It is extremely fresh and high quality. Try some hot sake to fend off the cooler temperatures too.
- Near the ship at the next building – both floors has free Wi-Fi, decent strength.
- Moo Building – just across the street from there. Free Wi-Fi
Post office (on map you are given in port), one block to the right of the ship, and about 5 blocks up, 5-10 min walk, is the best place to exchange money in Kushiro. The rate they give you is without commission and is about the same as the actual daily rate, and someone will speak enough English to make it easy enough to do.
ATMs are in the Moo centre (but you may have a fee from your own bank for withdrawals).
Karen’s Top Tip
Don’t miss trying the sashimi in the fish market in town! Exchange money before you get here if possible as sometimes the post office is closed for a myriad of public holidays. The Crane Reserve and Marshland centre only accept Japanese yen in cash, no credit cards or USD, so exchange before on the ship or in a previous port if possible, to make things easy on yourself.
My experience here
I negotiated renting a cab with some crew friends from in the port for 1550 yen (around $150), for 6 people (but the cab could fit up to 10 people so can be negotiated, to pay less money per person if you have more people). They accept USD.
A Cab for 4 people was 11900 (approx. $120), $30 each. The tour took 2 hours (that’s all the time we had) and we visited the Crane Sanctuary and the Marshlands. The driver spoke not too much English, but was friendly and polite. You need to have local currency for any small purchases. Some of us forgot to get yen to use for buying the entrance tickets for the marshlands and the crane sanctuary, and the driver kindly paid for the extra tickets while there (then those that borrowed, paid back that amount extra in USD when we got back to the ship). After the tour, we walked around the town area to find the local market, with its large fish section, and enjoyed some local food, before browsing the shops in Moo, then getting a little Wi-Fi before returning to the ship.
My Most Memorable Moment
Kushiro was the first port I visited in Japan. I have been on ships for a long time before coming here, and Japan has been one of the countries I have always had a thing for, and been fascinated with and in love with, before I ever went there. My first impression of it was Kushiro, and it didn’t disappoint. The people were friendly and warm, while being formal and uber polite. My most memorable moment here was tasting my first real Japanese sashimi. I was so excited for this! The market has the most delicious, fresh, and exciting sashimi on offer. Nick and I walked around the market marveling at the sights and smells. There were many vendors, but we decided on one run by a very smiley, friendly young man called Hiro. Hiro was helpful when we first saw him, so we bypassed all the other stalls touting their fresh fish, and went to him, choosing a tempting selection of delectable delights, of mackerel (saba), scallops, yellow fin tuna, tuna belly, salmon, and even whale! We had just one piece between us just to try it. We ordered and picked up some sticky Japanese sushi rice, as directed by, and sat down in the central area of long communal tables, to enjoy our treasures. The excitement of tasting real Japanese sashimi for the first time was incredible. The soft, smooth taste of the tuna sashimi, and the freshness of its delicate flesh were delightful. The whole experience was a culinary captivation. We visited the market on our first trip here in October 2016, and returned again in March 2017 to the same market vendor, to enjoy more delicious sashimi. Impressively, Hiro the fishmonger remembered us. A photo of with him, and the delicious sushi is below.
Nick and I adventuring all over Japan trying as many delicious Japanese dishes as possible.