Whether you want to move north to the Akan National Park region, to Nemuro and the easternmost part of Hokkaido, or take the express train to Sapporo, Kushiro Station and JR Hokkaido will get you there.
The station has two main lines: The Senmo Line and the Nemuro Line. The Senmo Line travels south to north and terminates in Kushiro. Moving west to east is the Nemuro Line which includes the Super Ozora limited express train services to and from Sapporo.
Having already arrived by a comfortable limited express train from Sapporo and transferred to the Senmo Line to Kawayu-Onsen, I was well aware of JR Hokkaido’s extensive service in the area. In Kawayu-Onsen I enjoyed Akan National Park and Abashiri, but now I’m using Kushiro as my base and will soon make a day trip to Nemuro before I eventually make my return to Sapporo.
Kushiro Station is conveniently located next to a number of hotels, a major bus terminal, and is a mere two minute walk to the Washo Fish Market (should you have a sudden craving for sashimi). Upon arrival, I walked to my hotel 900 meters away as the weather was nice and sunny. If need be, plenty of taxis are available outside the main exit to the station and waiting to take you and your luggage to your accommodations nearby.
The station itself is best described as a mid-sized but major station for the city of almost 150,000. As a result, Kushiro Station has a large travel center, information kiosk, various restaurants and convenience stores as well as souvenir shops. It even has a relatively large book store, although the selection is almost exclusively in Japanese.
Admittedly, I am completely enamored with train travel and in particular, train travel in Japan. After a recent afternoon trip 20 minutes north on the Senmo Line to Kushiro Shitsugen Station, I was able to spend an hour hiking up to Hosooka Observatory. From the observation area I could enjoy the view of the national park. On my return, my stomach was grumbling and I couldn’t resist stepping inside one of the small restaurants at the station for Ten Don (rice bowl with tempura seafood and vegetables). Being only a stone’s throw away from Washo Fish Market, my lunch included a couple of gigantic local prawns and a tender piece of octopus.
Whether Kushiro is your final destination or a brief respite between your journey north or further east or west, the station has just about every amenity a traveler will need. If you have an hour or two, a visit to the nearby Washo Fish Market is highly recommended. If you have a brief stop, be sure to duck into one of the station’s convenience stores, food stalls or restaurants for quick bite or to stock up on supplies for the rest of your train travel.