Even if you are not particularly fond of hiking in general, I promise you, you will love this trail! I have done a lot of hiking and walking over the years, but walking on Rebun Island is definitely something very special. I cannot think of another trail which offers these kinds of mind-blowing views during the entire course. For a great part of the course we walked on top of the cliffs, on very well maintained and, therefore, easy to follow trails. The views all along the walk were breathtaking, jaw-dropping.
We started near Kafukai, about 5 km north of the ferry terminal in Kafuka. For the first half hour or so we walked along a nice shady forest road, ascending gently. We sucked in the fresh air and listened to the birds. Very soon the views started opening up, and we walked over seemingly endless hills covered with sasa, a genus of running bamboo.
About an hour and a half later we reached the ocean; there, right below us, was a nice but rather inaccessible bay, where a couple of fishermen were collecting sea urchins. The highlight of this area was a field of edelweiss—in bloom from mid-June to mid-August— and other wild flowers, which usually only grow at an altitude of 2,000m and above; we, however, were probably only 100m above sea level, which gives you some idea of the island's special climate. As the edelweiss is a highly protected species, a rope fences off the flowers; however, there is a short designated walking path which allows you to pass very close.
From there we walked down a bit and crossed the road (leading to Kafuka), and then went up again towards the Momo-iwa observatory (about another 1.5 hours after the edelweiss colony). This spot is a spectacular lookout, where we found fascinating rock formations—one of them, called Momo-iwa (Peach Rock), is a gigantic 250-meter high rock, shaped a bit like a peach. I don’t know how much time we spent up there, let’s just say a lot. It was so extraordinary beautiful. I could have stayed there for hours.
Finally we continued further along the cliffs, with unlimited views of the ocean and the surrounding cliffs—it was absolutely mind-blowing. A lighthouse that comes into view marks the end of the trail along the cliffs. From there, the path leads down to Shiretoko, the end of our hike.
To be honest, I was rather speechless at the end of the day; my mind just could not comprehend what my eyes had experienced. This trail definitely exceeded my expectations.
A few useful hints: For the whole trail between Kafukai and Shiretoko (about 13 km) allow at least 5 hours, and be sure to take sufficient water and some lunch.
This is actually a combination of two different trails, so there are shorter options. Make sure you pick up the English trail maps at the ferry terminal. For this hike, you need the map “Momo-iwa course” and “Forest road course”, the latter passing by the edelweiss colony.
Even in the summer, the wind can be quite chilly, so make sure you have appropriate clothing: windbreakers, sweaters etc.
If you are looking for accommodation on Rebun Island, you might be interested in the Nature Inn Hanashin. For more pictures, have a look at the Momo-iwa photo story. You can walk all the way up directly from Kafuka. Just follow the Momoiwa trail and you will reach the top in about 50 minutes.