Uryunuma-shitsugen Marsh, Uryu Town - Hokkaido Heritage
As Hokkaido is sometimes called as "the treasure of wetlands", there is various types of wetlands.
The most known wetlands are ones located in lowland areas, Sarobetsu Wetland in the north and Kushiro Shitsugen in the east, but “Uryunuma-shitsugen Marsh” is a mountain high wetland that is located approximately 850 meters above sea level. The wetland can be reached after two hours of climbing from the gate park. The most remarkable characteristic of this site is that more than 100 small and large ponds are scattered in the wetlands and more than 150 kinds of flowers and plants that can be observed from spring after snow melts and autumn.
▲The ponds in the Uryunuma-shitsugen Marsh is said to be made from melted water from ancient ice in peats.
It is said that the history of Uryunuma-shitsugen Marsh goes back to more than two million years ago. Numerous huge mountains more than thousand meters above sea level born from active volcanisms, rivers blocked by newborn mountains became lakes, mosses such as sphagnum grew and gradually became wetlands. After plants had died, peats absorbed water like a sponge, grew taller than water surface gradually in a long time and became how it is today. The deepest part of peat layer of Uryunuma has 15,000 years of history.
▲You can observe water plants such as Uryukouhone and Ezonohitsujigusa in the ponds.
The process of how the wetlands are built and animals and plants live in the area are academically very precious. The land is registered as one of the Hokkaido Natural Treasure in 1964 and Hokkaido Heritage in 2004. Also as the world’s first mountain high wetland, now Uryunuma-shitsugen Marsh is one of the registered wetlands for Ramsar Convention.
Mountain climbing first to reach mountain high wetland “Uryunuma-shitsugen Marsh”!Different from those wetlands in the lowlands, mountain climbing is necessary to reach to Uryunuma-shitsugen Marsh, which is located 850 meters above sea level. Submit mountain climbing registration at the gate park, walk the trail while looking up to waterfalls, cross two suspension bridges, you will finally reach the entrance of wetlands after a total of about two hours and four kilometers climbing.
The path becomes hard to walk when snow is piled up in winter, and people are not allowed to enter the mountain. The wetland is open in summer, from late June until early October.
▲Submit mountain climbing registration at this gate park management office. Write down climbers’ names, objectives, approximate time of coming back and hand the registration paper to the staffs. (Photo provided by Uryu Town)
▲The trail is kept in good condition and considered to preserve nature. Pay attention to the information given at the gate park and enter the mountain. (Photo provided by Uryu Town)
▲It takes about two hours from gate park to Uryunuma-shitsugen Marsh. Climb the mountain with waterfalls.
Numerous small and large ponds and various wetland plantsThe size of the wetland is about 100 hectare. Penkepetan River runs meandering in the center of the wetland and ponds are scattered on the sides of the river. From late June to August is when most flowers bloom such as Mizubashou, Ezokanzou, Uryukohone. More than 150 kinds of plant colors the wetland.
▲More than 150 kinds of flowers bloom alternately from early June to early September.
▲Mizubashou starts to bloom at the beginning of spring right after snow melts. (Photo provided by Uryu Town)
▲From July is the most beautiful season to observe Ezokanzou.
▲Wet plants bloom in the ponds. Uryukouhone with the name of Uryu and Ezonohitsujigusa.
There is a 3.5 kilometers wooden path built to preserve these wetland plants and environment. Please do not walk outside of this path. Especially at the observation deck built at the great view sites, you can also enjoy the full view of Uryunuma-shitsugen Marsh.
▲You can observe the whole wetlands at the observation deck built on a hill.
To hand over Uryunuma-shitsugen Marsh to the next generationIn Uryu Town, citizen groups such as “Uryunuma-shitsugen Marsh Lovers Society” volunteers patrol the wetland and promote to climbers to preserve this precious natural heritage. Also, Uryunuma Town Alpine Society takes junior high school students in the schools located near the mountain to climb Uryunuma-shitsugen Marsh as a part of their lessons.
▲The photo of the climbing event held in 2015 as the celebration of “11th anniversary of Hokkaido Heritage registration and the 10th anniversary of Ramsar Convention registration”. (Photo provided by Uryu Town Tourist Association)
▲Panels to promote Uryunuma-shitsugen Marsh. (Photo provided by Uryu Town Tourist Association)
I would like to support these activities to preserve this beautiful scenery to the next generation.
Why don’t you visit Uryunuma-shitsugen Marsh to experience mystery and strength of nature in Hokkaido?
Related Links- Hokkaido Heritage Website “Uryunuma-shitsugen Marsh”
- Uryu Town Website
- Uryu Town Tourist Association Website
Photo / Hokkaido Heritage Council
Text / Hokkaido Likers Writer T.H