Skip to main content.


  • Looking up at the Sanbon Katsura from below
    img img
  • Kanokozawa with autumn foliage
    img img
  • Niji Falls in early summer
    img img
  • Ezoshimarisu (Siberian chipmunk (Tamias sibiricus lineatus))
    img img
  • Kumotsuki Rock
    img img
  • Roots of a katsura tree (katsura tree (Cercidiphyllum japonicum Siebold et Zucc. ex Hoffm. et Schult.) clinging to rocks
    img img
  • Red and golden autumn foliage
    img img

Kanokozawa Recreation Forest


Elevation Lowest : 390m / Average : 390–662m / Highest : 820m

Kanokozawa: a place of truly outstanding natural beauty

Kanokozawa: a place of truly outstanding natural beauty

Newest information
Please visit official tourism websites for the latest updates and information.
Autumn leaf viewing (Includes surrounding area) Waterfall viewing Hot Spring (Outside the forest) Ski area (no. of trails: 2) (Outside the forest) (Payment required) Park golf (Oketo (Payment required) and Katsuyama (2 locations)) (Outside the forest) (Foreign language support not available)
Geographical/topographical features
The Kanokozawa Recreation Forest is located in Oketo Town in the northeastern part of Hokkaido. The forest occupies a hilly region with an average elevation of 450 m, forming a ridge that branches out from the Daisetsu Mountains along the Nii-Tokoro River upstream from the Tokoro River.
Historical/cultural features
Locals have long considered Kanokozawa to be one of Oketo Town’s most noteworthy scenic locales. It is said to have been given its current, official name around 1950.
Oketo Town requested that a songwriter―Mr. Otowa Shigure―visit the town and give a lecture. He was taken to see the waterfalls and rocks of the stream, which had no name at the time. After Mr. Shigure returned to Tokyo, he sent a poem entitled "Kanokogawa" (Kanoko River) to Oketo Town. Names such as "Niji Falls" (rainbow waterfall), "Sanbon Katsura" (three-part Katsura tree (Cercidiphyllum japonicum)), "Shinobi Iwa" (sneaking rock), "Kumo Tsuki Iwa" (cloud piercing rock) and "Itohiki Falls" (thread-like waterfall) are derived from this poem, and the place was given the name "Kanokozawa" (Kanoko Stream) as a scenic site. (Source: Oketo-cho 100 Shunen Kinen Yoran (Handbook Commemorating the 100th Anniversary of Oketo Town))
Climate, flora and fauna
The area has a Sea of Okhotsk climate and a subarctic inland climate, with a relatively hot summer and severe cold in the winter due to drift ice arriving along the coast of the Sea of Okhotsk.
Therefore, the forest is composed of subarctic coniferous trees such as Todomatsu (Todo fir (Abies sachalinensis)) and Akaezomatsu (Sakhalin spruce (Picea glehnii)), and broad-leaved trees such as Shinanoki (Japanese lime tree (Tilia japonica)), Harunire (Japanese Elm (Ulmus davidiana var. japonica)), Mizunara (Japanese oak mizu-nara (Quercus crispula Blume)) and Betulaceae. The forest also provides a habitat for clusters of Hakusanshakunage (Rhododendron brachycarpum G. Don) and wildlife such as Ezoshika (Yezo shika deer (Cervus nippon yesoensis) and Ezoraicho (hazel grouse (Tetrastes bonasia)).
Many people visit the Kanokozawa Recreation Forest to enjoy the forest scenery with its mix of conifers and broad-leaved trees, which is magnificent when viewed in panorama from the summit observation platform, particularly when the bright green new leaves emerge in the spring and during the autumn, when the leaves change color.
Along a footpath that takes about 90 minutes roundtrip, many unusually shaped natural rocks can be seen, such as the Byobu Iwa (folding screen rock), which looks like a folding screen made of stone, Shinobi Iwa, which has a space large enough for a person to hide in between giant overlapping rocks, and Kumotsuki Iwa, which rises so high that it seems to pierce the sky. Along the stream winding between these unusual rocks, there is the Niji Falls, a waterfall that looks very different depending on the season and viewpoint, and Itohiki Falls, which looks like fine threads with water sliding down the rock surface gently, hardly making a splash. These features combine with the surrounding forest to create a superb landscape. The valley contains the Sanbon Katsura, a very tall Katsura tree that splits into thirds near its roots, which is on the "100 Giants of the Forest" list.
A footpath that offers such a variety of scenery in a one-day walk is rare in Hokkaido, so a large number of people visit the forest to stroll through this perfect place for nature observation.
Oketo Town puts a great deal of effort into promoting forest tourism. Oke-Crafts (a combination of the "Oke" in Oketo Town and "craft" from handicraft) are actively produced and are very popular with tourists. These include food vessels and furniture made from local Ezomatsu (Yezo spruce (Picea jezoensis)) and Todo fir, which have beautiful white wood surfaces, and from broad-leaved trees, such as Sen (Harigiri) (Kalopanax pictus) and birch, which have a soft texture.
In addition, a festival is held annually to celebrate the traditional mountain god of forestry: the Oketo Summer Festival / Ningen Bamba Race. A large number of tourists attend the Ningen Bamba Race to watch people pull iron sleighs called "Bachi Sori" (a tool for transporting logs using horses) carrying logs along an approximately 80 m course.
Latest Information
Regular events
Oketo Summer Festival / Ningen Bamba Race (every June)
Oketo Lake Festival (every July)
Kanokozawa Forest Walk (every October)
Warnings (Flora and fauna)
Ezo Brown bears: Higuma (brown bears (Ursus arctos)) may be present during the period from May to November. When entering the forest, please carry a bear bell and stay in a group. Check for local information on bear sightings and warnings and follow instructions.
Ticks: Please note that ticks are present in bamboo grass areas. Wearing long sleeves and long trousers is essential.
Horsefly: Horseflies are highly active from mid-July through August, so visitors are recommended to protect their faces with a net or other means during that time.
Warnings (Dangerous areas)
There is only a guard rope at the edge of the observation platform, so please keep some distance from the rope.
Warnings (Other)
The path will become steep beyond Itohiki Falls, so please do not venture beyond this point if your fitness level or equipment are not sufficient.
Usage Guide
Entrance fee
Free of charge
Opening seasons and hours
Basically accessible 24 hours a day. However, please refrain from entering the forest at night as there are rocky areas and wild animals.
The forest is closed during the winter (November to May).
Accommodation options
Oketo Katsuyamaonsen Yuuyu Cottage (5 km, about 6 minutes by car), the Youth Exchange Center (only offers stays without meals, reservation required), Minshuku Jukoen (guest house) (about 17 km, about 25 minutes by car) (April through November)
Toilets and drinking fountains (Includes surrounding area) Footpath / walking trail / nature trail Parking lot Observation platform Shop (Outside the forest) Restaurant (Outside the forest) Accommodation facilities (Hotels/Japanese inns) (Outside the forest)
Tsunemoto, Oketo Town, Tokoro County, Hokkaido
(Distances and times are provided as a guide only)
By public transport
<Access from nearest railway station / bus stop>
  • About 60 minutes on foot (4.5km) from the Katsuyama Onsen bus stop (Kitami Bus)
<Access from major transport hubs to nearest railway station / bus stop>
  • Kitami Station (Kitami Bus [Kunneppu-Oketo-Katsuyama-Rikubetsu route]: 60 minutes) → get off at the Katsuyama Onsen bus stop
  • * Due to inconvenient access by public transportation, access by car is recommended.
By car
  • From Memanbetsu Airport, take the Bihoro By-pass and drive through Kitami City (Route 39, Pref. Route 50, etc.: about 90 minutes) → Oketo Town downtown (Pref. Route 211, etc.: about 30 minutes) → Kanoko Recreation Forest Parking Lot
<Car parking capacity / parking charges>

Free parking for approximately 10 vehicles

Nearby tourist facilities
  • Aquarium of the Northern Land (Mountain Aquarium): about 50 minutes by car (contains organisms that live in and around the rivers of Hokkaido)
Management office contact details
Abashiri Chubu District Forest Office
Information on Other Local Tourist Attractions
Oketo Katsuyamaonsen Yuuyu [External link]
Oke-Craft Center Shinrin Kogeikan [External link]
Official Tourist Information
Commerce, Industry, and Tourism Section, Industry Promotion Division, Oketo Municipal Office [External link]
Recreation Forest Management Committee
Oketoko/Kanokozawa Recreation Forests Management Committee
Industry Promotion Division, Oketo Municipal Office

PDF形式のファイルをご覧いただく場合には、Adobe Readerが必要です。
Adobe Readerをお持ちでない方は、バナーのリンク先からダウンロードしてください。

Get Adobe Reader