Shiretoko Kamuiwakka Hot Waterfall

A singular waterfall in the wild with warm water

By Sandro Bernardinello    - 2 min read

Just after the famous Shiretoko Five Lakes, the main and only street turns into a dirt road. The way should lead to a big waterfall but there is no sign to speak of, let alone the shadow of another person. The deserted road and the multiple signs warning of bears puts you on edge. Small streams run through the thick forest shielding the hot sun above. The temperature is sensibly colder and the smell of the plants and trees pleasantly fill the air. Every now and then the woods open into open fields and the dark blue of the Pacific Ocean comes to sight making you gaze at the horizon. In the wider spaces the deer roam unhindered, making them easy to spot. Summer is also the best time to see cute cubs at play, running beside their mothers.

After more than ten kilometers the waterfall finally comes into sight. A wide stream of water runs fast down a narrow valley over large and smooth rocks. At the first sight it would probably let you a bit disappointed as Japan has many nicer waterfalls. A short trail follows the water on one side and stops after just a few steps, going apparently into the river. And that’s when you will understand what makes this place different: the water is warm. The feeling is totally unexpected and in a minute you will find yourself walking into the river. As no algae apparently grow in this water, the stones are not slippery at all, making the climb very easy. Going a bit farther up there are several points where the river forms natural pools. Having a bath completely surrounded by nature is a great experience; but the addition of a view over the majestic ocean makes it truly unforgettable.

Getting there

The only easy way to get there is by car (or bike). The only alternative is to walk the 10 km from the Shiretoko Five Lakes or to try to hitch a ride.

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Sandro Bernardinello

Sandro Bernardinello @sandro.bernardinello

Born on a cold day in December 1984, I am a computer engineer in Verona. I love martial arts, travel, Japan, food and of course photography. Photography is not only looking for beautiful pictures, it's more, much more; It means keeping memories, details, and moments that will inevitably become more and more blurred in our memory; it means waking up when everyone is sleeping; getting excited at the frost or under a thunderstorm when everyone is running away; learning to wait and knowing the surrounding environment; looking for new places and exploring forgotten ones, it means being able to see and enjoy what is surrounding us learning to observe with different eyes.

Join the discussion

Sleiman Azizi 9 months ago
"The water is warm..." And there we go, the deal maker right there.
Sandro Bernardinello Author 9 months ago
yes! :)
Diagoras Kalaitzoglou 9 months ago
Blown away by the photos and it must be an amazing feeling to be in warm water surrounded by this scenery...!
Sandro Bernardinello Author 9 months ago
too kind!! thank you very much! and yes, it's an amazing place :D
JapanTravel Guest
JapanTravel Guest 9 months ago
The photos are amazing
Sandro Bernardinello Author 9 months ago
Thank you so much! :)
Sherilyn Siy 10 months ago
I love your photos especially the one with the deer.
Sandro Bernardinello Author 10 months ago
Thank you very much sherilyn!
Elizabeth Scally 10 months ago
That’s awesome that visitors can wade in this wild hot spring water. Most springs close to human habitation have been tamed in buildings and baths. Even just to wade in this one, with that view, is enticing!
Sébastien Duval 10 months ago
True! I love outdoor hot springs but have not had the chance to enjoy anything like this during my 10+ years in Japan...