Shiretoko World Natural Heritage

What is World Natural Heritage?

World Heritage is the designation by the World Heritage Committee for places on Earth that are of outstanding universal value to humanity and as such, have been inscribed on the World Heritage List to be protected for future generations.

Why is Shiretoko Listed? Its Two Outstanding Values

productive interaction of marine and terrestrial ecosystems, influenced by the formation of seasonal sea ice.
Combining northern species and southern species, the property is an important area for maintaining biodiversity, supporting a wide range of fauna and flora that include a number of rare and endemic species.

The Sea Ice Sustaining Abundance of Life & Life Supported by the Link among Forests, Rivers and the Ocean

The coastal areas of Shiretoko in the Sea of Okhotsk are located in the lowest latitude in the world where sea ice can form. The formation of sea ice, cooling the surface layer of ocean water, promotes its upwards and downwards convection, which brings the nutritive salts accumulated at the lower level of the sea up to the surface level. Once spring arrives, the surface layer is bathed in enough sunlight for photosynthesis, and phytoplankton proliferates explosively using the nutritive salts. The vast quantities of plankton produced in this way form the starting point for the food chain.

Plankton is eaten by marine life such as fish, seabirds and whales. Salmon species such as chum salmon and pink salmon swim upstream from the ocean and serve as an important food source for brown bears and birds of prey. Fish that remain partially uneaten also provide food for animals like foxes, and eventually these animals too return to the soil and provide nourishment for the forests. In this manner, a dynamic food web that encompasses the ocean, rivers, and land is formed in Shiretoko.

Shiretoko, with its rich ecosystem, is also a habitat crucial for the survival of globally endangered bird species, such as Blakiston's fish-owls, Steller's sea eagles, and white-tailed eagles.

Shiretoko World Heritage Area

Visitors Etiquette

  • Do not leave trash.
  • Do not pick plants.
  • Do not feed animals.
  • Do not hunt or fish.
  • Do not smoke while walking.
  • Bonfires/recreational fires are only permitted in designated areas.
  • Do not stray from the paths.
  • Do not eat while walking on walkways; do not cook in the open. It may attract brown bears.
  • Do not approach or provoke brown bears.
  • Do not obstruct fishery activities.

Shiretoko World Heritage Conservation Center General Information

8:30 - 17:30(April20 - October20)
9:00 - 16:30(October21 - April19)
Tuesdays(October21 - April19 only)
End and beginning of the year(December29 - January3)
Usage fee
Free of charge


Tokyo Haneda Airport Memanbetsu Airport 135 minutes via National Route 334 by car (98 km) Shiretoko World Heritage Conservation Center

Tokyo Haneda Airport Memanbetsu Airport 135 minutes by Shiretoko Airport Liner (bus) Shiretoko World Heritage Conservation Center