Northern Japan: Hokkaido, Okushiri Island, Aomori

I have just returned from a trip to the Northern territory of Japan!

This four day trip was organised by a group referred to as, The Basikurumon’s. The research group consists of five scientists located throughout Japan, including Yoshihiro Sawada- Sensei (ALPHA Professor/ Triad Advisor).

I call them the Basikurumon’s because this is the Japanese name for Apocynum venetum var. basikurumon- the rare coastal plant which led us to Northern Japan. In addition to completing vegetation survey’s and sampling, we studied the natural scenery.


The golden coloured plant is Basikurumon, and is found in two locations in Northern Japan ( Okushiri Island and Natsudomari Peninsula).


After flying to Hokkaido City on a 26 passenger plane (yikes!), we drove to the top of Mt. Hokodate.  Below, the spectacular view during afternoon/night.

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We then boarded a ferry which traveled two hours to Okushiri Island. Research began early the next day. We enjoyed driving along the coast- catching the beautiful scenery, botanizing, and studying rock formations and compositions.


We left the island for our next research location in Aormori Prefecture (specifically the Natsudomari Peninsula). Between the two locations we enjoyed a raw breakfast at the fish market

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The last day of our journey was reserved for additional sampling. However, the team was very efficient, so we were left with a free day to explore different ecosystems.

We ventured to Lake Towada and Oirase Stream to study riparian ecosystems. We were lucky enough to observe grassland and alpine communities, as well.


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This trip was extremely educational in respect to the natural lands and vegetation of Japan, as well as the language and culture of the Japanese people.



The last day of sampling concluded with a stunning view.

I have much thanks to give to The Basikurumon’s for their unwavering patience in teaching me the Japanese language and culture, for their hospitality and kindness, and for the amount of knowledge they have leant. I wish them the best of luck with their current and future research!

One comment

  1. Paul Kuenstner

    This sounds like another great adventure! There’s a real island theme going on, with our British Fellows on the Isles of Scilly and the Americans on Okushiri Island. What island in America can our Japanese Fellows visit?

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