Rebun-to (礼文島) is an island off the north-west tip of Hokkaido, Japan. It features native wildflowers, spectacular landscapes and fantastic hiking for experienced and beginner hikers.
Rebun-to has a small and easy-to-climb mountain, Rebun-dake (礼文岳), which is 490 m (1,610 ft). The island has many wildflowers, some waterfalls, and unique rock formations.
These islands belonged to the Ainu until the migration of the Japanese to Hokkaido began in the 1870s.
Heavy snow in winter. Summer is the best time to visit.
To get to Rishiri or Rebun, take a ferry from the city of Wakkanai. There are also ferries directly connecting Rishiri and Rebun. There are about five services a day during summer, and this is cut back in winter. 2nd class one way tickets to Rishiri or Rebun cost ¥2200. Like many other Japanese ferries, 2nd class has almost no seating inside -- you sit on tatami mats on the floor (after taking your shoes off). There is outdoor seating, weather permitting.
There are also a few turboprop plane services from Wakkanai.
Fees and permits
Bus timetables are available at the ferry terminals and on the ferry itself. Roads don't go to the interior of either island, so the best way to see them is on foot. There are hiking trails on both islands that really let you explore the best parts of the islands, and it may be desirable to take buses or taxis to the trailheads. Cars, bikes and scooters are available for rent. It is also possible to book a nature tour by bus on the islands.
Wildflowers on Rebun.
- 1 Rishiri-Rebun-Sarobetsu National Park.
Hiking is the main activity that can be done, and there are fantastic trails for beginners and experts alike. Hiking maps are available in English from Wakkanai railway station and the ferry terminals.
- Eight hour hiking course (八時間ハイキングコース). On Rebun, the main hike is the Hachijikan haikingu-kosu, which literally translates as the "eight-hour hiking course". It runs along the eastern coast of the island from the northern to the southern tips. The actual walking time depends on the speed of your group — you shouldn´t hike alone — and it may well take you 10 hours. This lookout offers fine views of Rishiri-to and Momoiwa, a rock which is shaped like a peach. To reach the trail entrance you can take a bus or a taxi.
- Peach Rock Lookout hike. For those desiring a less grueling walk, there's a shorter, 40 minute hike to the Momoiwa (Peach Rock) lookout (桃岩展望台) starting nearby the ferry terminal town of Kafuka (香深).
The specialty of Rebun is raw sea-urchin served on a bed of rice, called Uni-don (ウニ丼) and it's wonderful. If "adventurous" for you means trying a new kind of pizza then uni probably won't be your thing, but even compared to uni at high-priced sushi shops in Tokyo or Sapporo this is a world apart. It can be found in eateries surrounding the ferry port terminal at Kafuka, as well as Oshidomari on Rishiri.
- 1 Momoiwa-so Youth Hostel, Aza Motochi, Kafuka, Rebun-to (there is a bus service, but mainly just look for the hostel staff for transportation, they are easily recognisable, as they will be frantically waiving the YH flag, while screaming), ☏ +81 1638-6-1421. Nothing in the world can quite prepare you for a stay at this wonderfully wacked youth hostel, but if you bring a huge dose of self-irony and enthusiasm, a stay here can easily turn out to be your greatest experience in Japan. While the 21:30 lights out and a strict no-alcohol policy, can sound dull, rest assured, after a day of hiking, singing and dancing you won't mind one bit. The hostel is nicely located next to the sea at the end of a dirt road just around the corner from Momo-iwa (Peach Rock). ¥3150.
- 2 Minshuku Kaido (民宿海憧), Ooaza-Funadomarimura (船泊村), Rebuncho (礼文町), Rebun-gun=, ☏ +81 163872717, email@example.com. ¥6000-.
- Water from streams may be unsafe to drink without purification. Try to obtain water from pure sources.
There are ferries available to Rishiri and Wakkanai.