This is a friendly Hokkaido travel tip!
If you will be on a train that will be passing by Kayanuma train station, make sure to be alert when it does pass through!
This is known as the “station that tancho cranes come to.”
See rare red-crowned cranes
It’s said that these Japanese tancho cranes (aka Manchurian cranes) are among the rarest cranes in the world.
At one point it was thought that these cranes were extinct, but then some were discovered in Hokkaido around Kushiro.
Since then, it’s said that due to conservation efforts, the numbers of these cranes have grown, although they are still considered an endangered species.
Of course, this is nature so there aren’t guaranteed sightings, but you might as well look out for it!
Look for the cranes on the open field that’s across from the platform at Kayanuma station.
I know, you can’t see the cranes that well in these pictures!
But you could see them decently well from the train and it was pretty exciting!
To better see the type of birds you can see at this train station, see pictures here. (Learn more about the cranes there too!)
Where is Kayanuma station?!
This train station is located in a more rural area of Hokkaido.
Expand out the map below (partner website) to see where Kayanuma is located compared to Sapporo.
Why might you be passing by Kayanuma station?!
Kushiro to Abashiri route
The Kayanuma train station is located on the JR railway line that runs between Kushiro and Abashiri.
You might consider making your way up to Abashiri from Sapporo to catch a drift ice cruise.
Then if you travel from Kushiro to Abashiri or Abashiri to Kushiro by taking the indirect route from or back to Sapporo, you might spot some Japanese cranes!
This is a scenic train route in rural Hokkaido, especially in winter.
Or if you’re doing other forms of sightseeing in this eastern region of Hokkaido, you may also end up on this train route.
Kawayu onsen and Mashu are train stations along the Kushiro to Abashiri route that have a bit more “offbeat” tourist spots located near them.
If you’re traveling with a JR pass or JR Hokkaido pass, you may consider visiting these places as a day trip from Kushiro or Abashiri (where you might find slightly more accommodation options), or staying a night of 2 in the area of Kawayu onsen or Lake Mashu.
A loop route around Hokkaido you may consider for travel in winter with a JR Hokkaido pass:
- Asahikawa (penguin walk)
- Abashiri (drift ice cruise)
- Kushiro (to break up the journey)
- Obihiro/Lake Shikaribetsu or Tomamu (ice village)
Where else can you see Japanese cranes in Hokkaido?
Or, if you want a better chance of spotting cranes, then there’s the Kushiro Shitsugen Marshland National Park.
There is also the Asahiyama Zoo that has a couple of cranes, but of course these are not wild cranes.
With the zoo, you can see the penguin walk too if you’ll be visiting in Hokkaido in winter!
HAPPY JAPANESE CRANE SPOTTING IN HOKKAIDO NEAR KUSHIRO!
How to spend winter in Japan
More quick tips for planning your trip to JapanThere are affiliate links on this page that take you to partner websites.
Among the top 3 things people get specific for a trip to Japan
- JR pass for quick and easy long distance train travel (see price here and see here how to calculate train routes to figure out it's worth it for you)
- Pocket wifi to make travel in Japan easier (see price here)
- Travel insurance for natural disasters just in case especially for travel disruptions (see price here and see here for past natural disaster that affected foreigners)
Food in JapanIf you are in Japan for FOOD, then be sure to see where to try different types of Japanese food! (Sometimes for cheaper!)
And also have a look at some of these cooking classes in Japan too.
If you're looking for a route for winter in Japan, here are some ideas!
- 10 day Japan winter itinerary
- Tokyo to Nagano bus
- 2 days in Nagano with snow monkey pass // Stay at this Nagano hostel (private rooms available)
- A few days in popular ski resort area Hakuba (go here for at least a day even if you don't ski for the winter landscape in the mountains!) // Stay at this Hakuba hostel (private rooms available)
- Hakuba to Takayama (Hakuba to Matsumoto train / a few hours in Matsumoto / Matsumoto to Takayama bus)
- A few days in Takayama with day trips: Shirakawago / Shinhotaka ropeway on a sunny day // Stay at this Takayama hostel (private rooms available) and eat regional Takayama ramen
- Takayama back to Tokyo OR Takayama to Nagoya airport to fly to Hokkaido for more winter landscapes!
Hokkaido winter itinerary (train to get around - there are JR Hokkaido passes available, and you can use a regular JR pass too)
- Sapporo to Asahikawa (Asahikawa for penguin walk at zoo)
- Asahikawa to Abashiri (Abashiri for drift ice cruise)
- Abashiri to Obihiro (night in Obihiro and go to Lake Shikaribetsu ice village the next day)
- Obihiro to Sapporo
- Sapporo to Noboribetsu onsen hot spring town (day trip)
- Sapporo to Hakodate // Stay in this Hakodate hostel
- Hakodate to Tokyo on shinkansen bullet train through the underwater tunnel! (Regular JR pass will be worth it if you take this train ride along with one more long distance train ride within 7 days)
When the JR pass is worth itIn general, 2 long-distance shinkansen train trips will likely end up making it so the JR pass will be worth it. But here's how to calculate it to be sure. See the current price of a JR pass from an official vendor.
Natural disasters in JapanUnfortunately, Japan can be prone to natural disasters which means risk for travel delays. So be sure to look at travel insurance for natural disasters.
My travel insurance took care of my accommodation and food costs when I was forced to stay extra days in Japan because of a typhoon. There have been a few typhoons that have hit Japan in the past couple of years and they can cause real travel disruptions!
See how much insurance costs for your trip.
More for your Japan itinerary
- 5 days in Kyoto
- Cost of climbing Mt Fuji from Tokyo
- Where to go for famous Mt Fuji views as seen in pictures
- Know before you go to Hiroshima
- One day in Miyajima with famous floating torii views
- 3 days in Okinawa, Japan's tropical islands
- Cherry blossom photo walk
- When is the JR pass worth it for train travel?
- Tokyo to Kyoto train
- Hostels in Japan