• April 19th, 2014
  • nature
  • TouristSpots
  • CentralArea

[Lake Utonai in Tomakomai] Paradise for Waterfowls Close to New Chitose Airport

Lake Utonai

Lake Utonai (ウトナイ湖) between National Route 36 and railway is a freshwater lake in the northeastern part of Tomakomai city. The Utonai means "A place that small streams gather" in Ainu language. The lake is located in the northwestern part of Yufutsu Plain (勇払原野), and the perimeter of the lake is about 9.5 km. The maximum water depth is 1.5 m, so it is not large. The lake is well-known for beeing designed as the first bird sanctuary in Japan by Wild Bird Society of Japan in 1981, and More than 260 kinds of waterfowls such as Whooper Swan and Whistling Swan inhabit, and the lake is called "Paradise for Wild Birds". In addition, 500 kinds of plants such as Quercus Crispula and Haskap grow, and 3,900 kinds of insecta inhabit. It is called "Natural Treasury", too. The lake has rich nature, and has been designed as the Ramsar Convention since 1991. Tens of thousands wild gooses fly home to roost or fly away the roost in March, and the view is popular.

Lake Utonai
Lake Utonai in Tomakomai
Wild Goose
Lake Utonai in Tomakomai

Movie of Flying Away Wild Gooses

It takes about 20 minutes from New Chitose Airport to here by car. A highway junction is very close to here, too, so here is easily accessible by the car. In addition, Aji-no-Daio Tomakomai head office (味の大王総本店) that is famous for curry ramen and Roadside station "Utonaiko" (道の駅"ウトナイ湖") are near here, so here is a good palce as a tourist attraction. The Roadside station with a restraunt, a souvenir shop, a public restroom opens all year round. By the way, canoe is popular along Bibi River (美々川) linked to the lake, and the river has 3 canoeports. Canoe tours are held, too. However, canoeing on the lake is prohibited.
Bibi River Canoe Guideline in Japanese

Roadside Station "Utonaiko"
Lake Utonai in Tomakomai
Lakeshore near Roadside Station "Utonaiko"
Lake Utonai in Tomakomai
View from Lakeshore near Roadside Station "Utonaiko"
Lake Utonai in Tomakomai
View from Lakeshore near Roadside Station "Utonaiko"
Lake Utonai in Tomakomai

Aji-no-Daio Tomakomai Head Office

Aji-no-Daio Tomakomai head office (味の大王総本店) is a popular ramen restraunt in Uenae, Tomakomai city. There is a building near Lake Utonai. It is founded in 1965 and is known as an ancestor ramen restraunt that has begun to cook curry ramen in Hokkaido. Originally it was founded in Iwamizawa and was divided into Tomakomai and Muroran. Aji-no-Daio Muroran is famous, too, but it has no capital ties. Read More

Curry Ramen
Curry Ramen - Aji-no-Daio Tomakomai Head Office in Tomakomai -

Express Tomakomai-go (高速とまこまい号) or Hascup-go (ハスカップ号), express buses, run between Sapporo and the Tomakomai. Besides, Rent-a-car can be rented around Tomakomai Station.

List of Means of Transportation

Highway buses run between the Tomakomai and the Sapporo. Refer to following the means of the transportation in the Tomakomai. As for car rental comparison websites, you can compare vehicle rental prices on Tabi-Plaza Rental Car Reservation (旅ぷらざレンタカー予約), Jalan Rental Car (じゃらんレンタカー) and Rakutem Travel Rental Car (楽天トラベルレンタカー).

Chuo Bus / Donan Bus(中央バス・道南バス) From Sapporo to Tomakomai
Jalan
Rakuten
Chuo Bus / Donan Bus(中央バス・道南バス) From Tomakomai to Sapporo
Jalan
Rakuten
Nippon Rent-a-car(ニッポンレンタカー) Their office is in Yanagi-cho.
Times Car Rental(タイムズカーレンタル) Their offices are near the Tomakomai Station and Tomakomai Ferry Terminal.
Toyota Rental Lease(トヨタレンタリース) Their offices are in Shinkai-cho and Sanko-cho.
Jalan
Station Rent-a-car(駅レンタカー) Their office is near the Tomakomai Station.
Nico Nico Rent-a-car(ニコニコレンタカー) Their office is near Numanohata Station.
Ones Rent-a-car(ワンズレンタカー) Their office is in Ipponmatsu-cho.

TOMAKOMAI

Tomakomai (苫小牧) that 170,000 people live along Pacific Ocean is the fourth largest industrial city in Hokkaido, and is located in the central part of the Hokkaido. There are Oji Paper factory (王子製紙), petrochemical complexes and Tomato-Atsuma Thermal Power Plant, the largest thermal power plant in the Hokkaido. As for a climate, it is warmer than other places in Hokkaido in a summer or in a winter, and it features that the Tomakomai has less snow than other placess in the Hokkaido. Therefore skating as one of famous winter sports is prosperous, so ASIA LEAGUE ICE HOCKEY Team "Oji Eagles" is based in the Tomakomai. Because the Tomakomai is close to New Chitose Airport, and Tomakomai Ferry terminal is built, so the Tomakomai has traffic convenience. Read More

Tarumae Garo Gorge
Tomakomai, Tarumae Garo Gorge

Around Lake Utonai

Lake Utonai Sanctuary Nature Center (ウトナイ湖サンクチュアリ), Lake Utonai Wildlife Conservation Center (ウトナイ湖野生鳥獣保護センター) and the Roadside station "Utonaiko" are at the northwest side of the lake, those are open to the general public. Admission free. Parking lots are free of charge. At the Lake Utonai Wildlife Conservation Center, some telescopes are set to observe wild birds freely on the 1st floor. In addition, documents and objects about Lake Utonai and the wild birds are displayed. A photo gallery is on the 2nd floor. Their regular closing day is Monday, and that is a facility that beginners can enjoy, too.

Lake Utonai Wildlife Conservation Center
Lake Utonai in Tomakomai
Lake Utonai Wildlife Conservation Center
Lake Utonai in Tomakomai
1st Floor of Lake Utonai Wildlife Conservation Center
Lake Utonai in Tomakomai
1st Floor of Lake Utonai Wildlife Conservation Center
Lake Utonai in Tomakomai
Photo Gallery at 2nd Floor of Lake Utonai Wildlife Conservation Center
Lake Utonai in Tomakomai
Lake Utonai Wildlife Conservation Center
Lake Utonai in Tomakomai

The Lake Utonai Sanctuary Nature Center run by the Wild Bird Society of Japan opens only on Saturdays, Sundays, and National holidays. At the Lake Utonai Sanctuary Nature Center, 3 telescopes are set to observe wild birds on the 1st floor, and a renger explains visitors about the lake or the wild birds. The renger was well informed, so I had an amusing conversation with her. In addition, professional documents, various objects and photo books about the wild birds are displayed, too, so here is suitable for experts, too. 2 telescopes are set to observe wild birds on the 2nd floor, too, so the lake can be viewed at high position. A handmade sugoroku is provided on the 2nd floor, too.

Lake Utonai Sanctuary Nature Center
Lake Utonai in Tomakomai
2nd Floor of Lake Utonai Sanctuary Nature Center
Lake Utonai in Tomakomai
View from 2nd Floor of Lake Utonai Sanctuary Nature Center
Lake Utonai in Tomakomai
2nd Floor of Lake Utonai Sanctuary Nature Center
Lake Utonai in Tomakomai
1st Floor of Lake Utonai Sanctuary Nature Center
Lake Utonai in Tomakomai
Many Documents and Photo Books about Wild Birds
Lake Utonai in Tomakomai

Around the Lake Utonai Sanctuary Nature Center and the Lake Utonai Wildlife Conservation Center, 8 walks, Round Short Trail (自然観察一周コース), Haskap Trail (ハスカップの小径), Swan Trail (ハクチョウの小径), Gray Heron Road (アオサギ通り), Woodpecker Trail (キツツキの小径), Red Fox Trail (キタキツネの小径), Yellow-Breasted Bunting Trail (シマアオジの小径) and Common Sandpiper Trail (イソシギの小径), are built, and 2 wooden observation huts for wild birds, Grassland Wooden Hut (草原の観察小屋) and Lakefront Wooden Hut (湖岸の観察小屋), are built, too. The time it takes to go around is defferent depending on the walks. The time it takes to head the longest walk and to observe nature to the full is over 2 hours. 345 m length of the Round Short Trail is the shortest walk, and is universal design. By the way, the length of the Haskap Trail is 1,245 m, and the length of the Common Sandpiper Trail is 510 m and the length of the Red Fox Trail is 695 m. The visitors can enjoy rich nature.

Wooden Path
Lake Utonai in Tomakomai

When I visited here, I saw a squirrel biting a mashroom at the side of the wooden path and a natural stream snaking its way across a field, and those were really interesting. The visitors can go in and out the observation huts freely, and can observe the wild birds without scaring those. The relation between nature and a person is just right, and it is the comfortable place. By the way, the trails are sometimes muddy, so you had better wear shoes that can get dirty.

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Round Short Trail
Lake Utonai in Tomakomai
Bower
Lake Utonai in Tomakomai
Observation Deck at Bower
Lake Utonai in Tomakomai
View from Observation Deck
Lake Utonai in Tomakomai
Bench
Lake Utonai in Tomakomai
Wooden Path of Round Short Trail
Lake Utonai in Tomakomai
Stairs Bench / Japanese Alder Terrace
Lake Utonai in Tomakomai
Stairs Bench
Lake Utonai in Tomakomai
View from Japanese Alder Terrace
Lake Utonai in Tomakomai
Haskap Trail
Lake Utonai in Tomakomai
Power of Nature
Lake Utonai in Tomakomai
Haskap Trail
Lake Utonai in Tomakomai
Fomes
Lake Utonai in Tomakomai
Otarumappu River Snakes its Way
Lake Utonai in Tomakomai
Greater White-Fronted Goose Terrace
Lake Utonai in Tomakomai
Swan Trail
Lake Utonai in Tomakomai
Lakeshore
Lake Utonai in Tomakomai
Lakeshore
Lake Utonai in Tomakomai
Swan Deck
Lake Utonai in Tomakomai
View from Swan Deck
Lake Utonai in Tomakomai
Gray Heron Road
Lake Utonai in Tomakomai
Entrance of Wooden Path
Lake Utonai in Tomakomai
Wooden Path
Lake Utonai in Tomakomai
Squirrel
Lake Utonai in Tomakomai
Yellow-Breasted Bunting Trail
Lake Utonai in Tomakomai
Junction
Lake Utonai in Tomakomai
Common Sandpiper Trail
Lake Utonai in Tomakomai
Common Sandpiper Terrace
Lake Utonai in Tomakomai
View from Common Sandpiper Terrace
Lake Utonai in Tomakomai
Common Sandpiper Terrace
Lake Utonai in Tomakomai
Common Sandpiper Terrace
Lake Utonai in Tomakomai
Lakefront Wooden Hut
Lake Utonai in Tomakomai
Look of Lakefront Wooden Hut
Lake Utonai in Tomakomai
View from Lakefront Wooden Hut
Lake Utonai in Tomakomai
View from Lakefront Wooden Hut
Lake Utonai in Tomakomai
View from Observation Hut
Lake Utonai in Tomakomai
Pussy Willow is Said to Herald Coming of Spring
Lake Utonai in Tomakomai
Yellow-Breasted Bunting Trail
Lake Utonai in Tomakomai
Grassland Wooden Hut
Lake Utonai in Tomakomai
Look of Grassland Wooden Hut
Lake Utonai in Tomakomai
View from Grassland Wooden Hut
Lake Utonai in Tomakomai
View from Grassland Wooden Hut
Lake Utonai in Tomakomai
Tripod
Lake Utonai in Tomakomai
Red Fox Trail
Lake Utonai in Tomakomai
Tasuo Pond
Lake Utonai in Tomakomai
Red Fox Trail
Lake Utonai in Tomakomai
Red Fox Trail
Lake Utonai in Tomakomai
Woodpecker Trail
Lake Utonai in Tomakomai
Squirrel Bites Meal
Lake Utonai in Tomakomai
Power of Nature
Lake Utonai in Tomakomai
Lake Utonai
Lake Utonai in Tomakomai
Lake Utonai
Lake Utonai in Tomakomai

Atmosphere of Lake Utonai Can Be Watched on Youtube

Movie of Lake Utonai

Admission fee Free of charge
Parking lot Lake Utonai Sanctuary Nature Center: Free parking is provided (30 Cars), Lake Utonai Wildlife Conservation Center: Free parking is provided (30 Cars), Road station: Free parking is provided (93 Cars)
Business hours Open 24 hours * Lake Utonai Sanctuary Nature Center 09:00-17:00, Lake Utonai Wildlife Conservation Center 09:00-17:00
Regular closing day Winter season * Lake Utonai Sanctuary Nature Center: Weekday and Year-end and New Year holidays, Lake utonai-ko wildlife sanctuary and visitor's center: Monday and Year-end and New Year holidays
Telephone number +81-144-58-2231
Home page Home page of Lake Utonai Sanctuary Nature Center is here, Home page of Lake Utonai Wildlife Conservation Center is here
Mapcode 113 413 623*44

List of Activities

In the Tomakomai, some activity companies serve guided hiking for the Mt. Tarumae, canoe tours along Bibi River and Glass Making Experience around the Lake Utonai. You can get information regarding online reviews and photos. By the way, visitors can contact with horses at Northern Horse Park (ノーザンホースパーク). In addition, the Utonaiko Sanctuary and the Utonaiko Wildlife Sanctuary and Visitor's Center hold some free events.

Guided Hiking

Movie of Guided Hiking


Noasobi Guide Michikusa(野あそびガイドみちくさ)
North Adventure Bandit(ノースアドベンチャー・バンディット)
ASOVIEW
Jalan
Hokkaido Private Adventure(北海道プライベートアドベェンチャー)
ASOVIEW

Canoe Tour

Movie of Canoe Tour


Amuse Sports(アミューズスポーツ)
Gateway Tours(ゲートウェイツアーズ)
Uenae Mura(自然体験工房うえなえ村)
ASOVIEW

Glass Making Experience

Uenae Mura(自然体験工房うえなえ村)

Horse Trekking

Movie of Northern Horse Park


NORTHERN HORSE PARK(ノーザンホースパーク)
ASOVIEW

List of Accommodations

Refer to following websites for the accommodations in the Tomakomai. You can get information regarding online reviews and photos.

Smile Hotel Tomakomai(スマイルホテル苫小牧)
Comfort Hotel Tomakomai(コンフォートホテル 苫小牧)
Hotel Wing International Tomakomai(ホテルウィングインターナショナル苫小牧)
Tomakomai Green Hotel(苫小牧グリーンホテル)
Booking
Hotel Route Inn Tomakomai(ホテルルートイン苫小牧駅前)
Dormy Inn Tomakomai(ドーミーイン苫小牧)
Toyoko Inn Tomakomai(東横イン苫小牧駅前)
Hotel Sugita(ホテル杉田)
Booking
Business Hotel Motonakano(ビジネスホテル モトナカノ)
Grand Hotel New Oji(グランドホテル ニュー王子)
Hotel Okuni(ホテル於久仁)
Booking
Jalan
Business Hotel Hachinohe(ビジネスホテルはちのへ)
Booking
Oyado Hishokan(おやど 翔馬館)
HP
Booking
Jalan
Hotel Nidom(ホテル ニドム)
Jalan
Rakuten
Booking.com

A page of Tomakomai is here

Tomakomai

By the way, Club Tourism (クラブツーリズム), a Japanese tour travel agency, provides various types of tours such as day trip tours or ordinary tours. In the case of bus tours, tourists do not drive their cars themselves, so they can savor alcohol. Choosen tourist attractions are national parks such as Rishiri and Rebun, Shiretoko, and popular tourist places such as Furano and Biei, and some activities such as hiking and fruit picking are also enjoyed depending on seasons. If you are interested in tour trips, you should visit the club tourism's website for details.

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