Tuesday, October 24, 2006

知床旅情 A Journey to Shiretoko (1)


知床一名來自愛奴語的「シルエトク」(sir etok),意即「大地之盡頭」,或「大地突出之所」。知床半島位於北海道的東部,伸入鄂霍次克海中,貫穿半島中部的「知床連峰」是一系列高度超過1,500公尺的火山,其中包括了知床半島最高峰-1,661公尺高的羅臼岳。



A Journey to Shiretoko (1)

Early summer in 2006, when most parts of the highland of Hokkaido were still covered by snow, I took a trip to Shiretoko, one of the few remaining true wilderness in Japan.

Located on the easternmost portion of Hokkaido, the Shiretoko Peninsula protrudes into the Sea of Okhotsk and the Nemuro Straits. Running longitudinally through the peninsula, a series of volcanoes excessing 1,500m -high form the Shiretoko Renzan (Mountain Range), with the 1,661m-high Mt. Rausu (the highest peak on the peninsula) at the centre.

The name Shiretoko is derived from shiruitoku, an Ainu language word meaning "the end of the land" or "the place where the earth protrudes".

The peninsula was declared a National Park in 1964. It is one of Japan's most beautiful and unspoiled regions. The northern tip (Shiretoko Cape) is only accessiable by boats or by multi-day trekking. It is the home to a variety of wildlife, including the brown bears, the sika dears, the foxes, the Steller's sea eagles, the endangered Blackiston's Fish owl and the Viola kitamiana plant. It is also globally important for threatened sea birds and migratory birds, and for a number of marine mammals, including the Steller's Sea Lions.

In 2005, Shiretoko Peninsula was added to UNESCO's World Natural Heritage Sites List for the irreplaceable value of the peninsula's ecosystem and biodiversity.

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