Maiden’s Tears: Furepe Waterfall in Shiretoko

Date: 20th September 2019

On my way back from Shiretoko Goko (Shiretoko Five Lakes) on this gloomy, cloudy day – I stopped by the Shiretoko Nature Center to access the trail towards Furepe Waterfall (フレペの滝). You can get the simple trail map here from the Nature Center before starting your hike. It was an easy 1km towards the waterfall which takes about 20 minutes, though you should be careful around the short slope at the start of the trail when the grounds are wet, as I have seen people falling there.

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Starts through a forested trail
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The path then leads out to a fenced grassland

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I thought that I could have seen deers here, but no deers. The fear of encountering a bear I felt back in Shiretoko Goko was still there when I was walking this trail. It did not help that there were lots of bear-related information back at the Nature Center. The dark skies made the scenery around here looks like the road towards the end of the world – as much as I love sunny days, cloudy days can be great for certain pictures.

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It started drizzling a little as I approached the observation deck near the waterfall and I was struggling to remain there as the wind picked up. Furepe waterfall is not your average waterfall – there is no river leading up to this waterfall, instead the water flows out of a crack fed by underground water from snow and rain. The drop is 60m to the Sea of Okhotsk.

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The cliff of Furepe Waterfall
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Up close

Furepe actually means “Red Water” in the Ainu language, and although it is unclear how the waterfall got its name, one of the theories was that it was named that due to the waterfall’s appearance when sunset lights shine on the waterfall. Instead of your gushing waterfall, it resembles flowing tears earning the nickname “Otome no Namida” which translates to Maiden Tears. For those who wants to see the waterfall from a frontal view, you can take the sightseeing boat tours that departs from Utoro.

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Barely seeing another drop of water, probably the maiden isn’t crying much

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The walk back takes about 20 minutes as well. There is a lighthouse nearby, but unfortunately the trail towards it is closed. I had my lunch at the restaurant “Baristart Coffee Shiretoko” in the Center – soup curry!

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The lighthouse as seen from the trail
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Soup curry with fish

Info

Admission: Free

Parking: Free of charge

Closing days: December 31st

Opening hours:

  • April 20th – October 20th: 08:00 – 17:30
  • October 21st – April 19th: 09:00 – 16:00

Shiretoko Natural Park Nature Center official website.

Access

The easiest way to get around Shiretoko is by car, which I definitely recommend since there are a lot of little spots in Hokkaido worth exploring without the hassle of waiting for buses.

Traveling time to Shiretoko National Park Nature Center:

  • From Utoro Bus Terminal: 10 minutes
  • From Shiretoko Goko (Shiretoko Five Lakes): 15 minutes
  • From Oshinkoshin Waterfall: 15 minutes
  • From Shari Bus Terminal: 50 minutes

Mapcode: 757 603 607*25

If driving is impossible, check out this page for the Shiretoko Line bus that departs from the Utoro Onsen Bus Terminal, there are about 6 buses / day between spring and autumn.

Getting to Utoro:

  • Shiretoko Airport Liner from Memanbetsu Airport (2 hours, 3,300 yen) or Abashiri Station (1 hour 40 mins, 2,600 yen). 3 buses / day, link here.
  • Eagle Liner from Terminal Sapporo (one bus /day) – Midnight bus @ 8,230 yen for 7 hours ride. Reservation is required – please check this page.

 

Author: Jennifer

Hi! I am Jennifer. I enjoy planning my own travels and love traveling in Japan - for the history, nature, temples, and the food! Read more for travel guides of places I have visited.

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