Japan City Guides: Rebun Island
Rebun Island (from Repun in the Ainu language meaning "island in the open sea") covers an area of 80 square kilometres and is 10 kilometres north-west of Rishiri, separated by the Rebun Channel.
Rebun is mainly flat with Mt Rebun the highest point on the island at an elevation of 490m. Rebun has a population of just over 3,000 inhabitants and its main industries are tourism and fishing. Kafuka is the ferry port and main town.
Rebun, along with Rishiri, is one of the most remote places in Japan. The island is best visited in summer and offers peace and quiet and lovely alpine flowers in summer from around June to August. The usuyukiso or Rebun Edelweiss is the signature flower of the island.
Cycling and hiking are the main activities on offer. There is an 8-Hour Hiking Course which runs from one end of the island to the other, north to south. This is split into two 4-Hour Hiking Courses.
Hiking Mt. Rebun takes around 3 hours. Come well prepared with your own water and food supplies.
Some of Rebun's scenic highlights include Cape Gorota (gorota misaki), the nearby sandy beach Gorota Beach (gorotahama), which attracts many Japanese windsurfers and the northern-most Cape Sukoton (sukoton misaki).
Cat Rock (neko iwa) is a rock formation in the sea at Motochi in the south west of Rebun.
Peach Rock (momo iwa) is a lovely green, hill offering sea views of Mt Rishiri on Rishiri Island.
Access - Getting to Rebun
The nearest access point to Rebun and Rishiri, Wakkanai, can be reached by road, rail and air. Trains start in Sapporo and take five to five and a half hours to Wakkanai, highway buses take six hours Sapporo-Wakkanai. From Sapporo Station the Limited Express Super Soya 1 is direct to Wakkanai and costs just over 10,000 yen, but is also covered by the Japan Rail Pass.
From Wakkanai, Heart Land Ferry operates car ferries to Rebun and Rishiri and between the two islands. Heart Land Ferry presently operates ferries from Wakkanai to Sakhalin in Russia and between Esashi and Okushiri Island and Setana and Okushiri Island in the south west of Hokkaido.
A range of hotels can be found in Wakkanai. On Rebun the main accommodation options of minshuku, ryokan and hotels are in the ferry port and main town of Kafuka.
Many back-packers stay at the Momoiwa-so Youth Hostel. (www.youthhostel.or.jp/English/n_momoiwaso.htm)