‘’Am I in A little house in Prairie movie?’’ This thought came up in my mind when I was on the road from the airport to the homestay. Located in the coldest and largest prefecture - Hokkaido, Tsurui village impressed with the scene of herds of milk cows leisurely grazing on the endless meadows. Though this tranquil village is not listed as a popular destination in Hokkaido, don't hesitate to give it a shot to admire the beautiful nature and to experience ‘’ the life in Japan but doesn't look like Japan'’.
Like any place in Hokkaido, the winter in Tsurui is covered by layers of snow. The summer starts late in June. When the winter says goodbye, the weather becomes warmer, many lives wake up after a long sleep.
To enter this rustic dream, all you need is a domestic flight ticket from Tokyo, Osaka or Sapporo to Kushiro city. After that, it takes 30 minutes to transfer from Tancho Kushiro Airport to Tsurui by car or by bus.
Cycling around the town:
With thinly scattered houses up on the hills, Tsurui has not had the convenient public transportation like other places in Japan. Cycling is a good idea to slowly enjoy and explore the great view on the road. The steep roads will take you a little strength and sweat but what you get completely deserves.
The typical picture in Tsurui is the open green grassland of dairy farms. The sight of boundless corn or potato fields along the side can also amaze you pretty much!
The pure water resource and natural preservation nurture the ideal environment for the milk cows. People in Tsurui are always proud of the quality of the local milk and cheese. Don't forget to stop to have an ice cream or a cup of hot milk at any shop on the road!
The peaceful scene of a dairy farm in Tsurui
Stepping closer to the untouched wilderness
Different from the hustle and bustle vibe of Tokyo and Osaka, this northern land offers you a chance to see various wildlife. It is not too rare to spot some unexpected friends like deer, fox, especially Japanese red-crowned cranes on the road.
Tsurui in Japanese also means crane. This bird becomes the signature which attracts many travelers to come to this village.
The highly-recommended destination for nature lovers is Kushiro Marsh National Park, the biggest wetland in Japan. It is the home of various fauna and flora. Those natural lives I only watched on TV displayed in front of my own eyes. I couldn't help but feel so fulfilled!
Kushiro-Shitsugen-Nationalpark, 2-2101 Hokuto...
Following the wooden path in Onnenai Visitor Center, you will be immersed in the richness of nature. It is a free admission place. Don't worry about getting lost. There are many informative pamphlets showcasing details of plant and bird species. The tone of the landscape there changes with the season, colorful flowers in spring, green in summer, golden in autumn and pure white in winter. The spark of fireflies is also observed on summer nights.
Onnenai Visitor Center
Onnenai Visitor Center, Onnenai, Tsurui, Hokk...
Autumn in Tsurui
Trekking to Mt. Iozan, the sulfur mountain
One - hour walking from Kawayu Eco-museum Center through the scenic Tsutsujigahara Nature Trail will take you to the steamy volcanic mountain Iozan. This short course showcases not only the biodiversity of the landscape but the spectacular view of the active volcano. Don't miss out the chance to try the egg boiled by the heat of this mountain!
Mount Iō, Kawayu, Teshikaga, Hokkaido, Japan
Retreating at the mineral hot spring
After a long day full of activities, there is nothing better than taking a dip in the naturally heated bath of Green Park Hotel Tsurui. Boasting about the relaxing and healing effects, this hot spring with the yellowish sulphated-base is also well-known as a perfect treatment for skincare.
Japan, Hokkaido, Tsurui, 鶴居北1 Chome−5 グリーンパーク...
Living the cottage life in Heartn Tree House:
Besides exploration activities, a slow pace of living is waiting for you to enjoy at Heartn Tree. This homestay and restaurant is located on a beautiful hill with a panoramic view. A farm to table breakfast with colorful veggies salad, a cup of local milk and fresh homemade bread offering the little Europe vibe will complete your delightful experience at an exotic Tsurui. Cooking class and craft-making is available here if you want to make cheese or authentic food by yourself.
Heart'n Tree Farm Cottage
Heart'n Tree Farm Cottage, 496-4 鶴居村雪裡 Tsurui...
Tired of the zen time in shrines and temples? If so, Tsurui, this northern village with abundant nature, freshest local food and incredible experiences is waiting for you to explore!
- The weather in Tsurui is mostly chilly, except for a few months of summer. Proper gears are highly advised.
- Quietly observe the wild animals in order not to disturb the natural lives.
- The night sky in Tsurui is breathtaking too. You will get a clear sight of the Milky way and the galaxy. Don't miss out this moment to have impressive photos.
- It is necessary to know some basic etiquettes when in a public hot spring bath.
- Mostly the local people can't speak English well. But they are so friendly and warm. Don't hesitate to ask them when you need any help.
- If you are into culture and history, stories about Ainu tribe, the Hokkaido indigenous people and their unique culture is worth taking a glimpse into.