Matsuo Saito:
Coexisting with untouched nature

Nature Guide


“If only we could restore the wetland to how it was before people developed it”, says Matsuo Saito. You can see the love for Kushiro Shitsugen wetland and the gratitude for nature’s gifts that Mr. Saito brings to his daily work as a guide.

Mr. Saito is an outdoor guide certified by the Hokkaido government (canoe and nature guiding), and the managing director of Kushiro Marsh and River Co., Ltd.
He is also a member of the Kushiro River Canoe Network and the Promotion Committee of the Hokkaido Outdoor Qualification System, adjudicates practical examinations for the Hokkaido Outdoor Qualification System, is involved in safety measures and is qualified as an outdoor guide.


Forget about everything except the clear water

What makes the Kushiro Shitsugen wetland unique? It is the home of the red-crowned crane, it is an expanse of nature just a stone's throw from downtown Kushiro and alpine flowers can be found just 2-3 meters above sea level. Because of Kushiro's unique climate, the area is dotted with alpine plants that can usually only be found at high altitudes. Another major point that stands out about Kushiro is the gentleness of the Kushiro River. It has a large volume of water that recedes when the tide goes out, forming a wetland that does not dry out in summer due to the area's cool climate. As a result, there are few rocks and stones in the river, and the clear water flows so quietly that it's as if all sound has been absorbed.
While you might walk away from other canoe tours with a sense of accomplishment after conquering the mighty waters, in Kushiro you can let go of your oars and become one with the nature all around you. It's not uncommon for a tourist to get so absorbed in the gentle flow of the river that they forget where they are until their mind is jolted back by the sound of the river lashing against a fallen tree. There are few greater pleasures than just letting yourself drift and forgetting about everything except the clear water.

Coexisting with untouched nature

We are mere guests in the wetland

Coexisting with untouched nature

The Kushiro Shitsugen wetland is home to diverse flora and fauna including the red-crowned crane, a Special Natural Monument of Japan. Mr. Saito says "When I enter this nature, I hope to impress upon as many people as possible how important this nature is and what a privilege it is to have it."
When you're canoeing, you might see wildlife such as red-crowned cranes, Yezo deer, white-tailed eagles and Yezo red foxes. Red-crowned cranes might even come to feed by the river. When wildlife appear, Mr. Saito always avoids pointing his canoe directly at the wildlife, as this frightens them. He makes sure to stay far enough away that the wildlife feel safe enough to show themselves. Mr. Saito is like a messenger of nature, taking people through the untouched nature by canoe and leaving them with a deep impression of its importance.




88−5, Toritoshi, Kushiro, Kushiro District, Hokkaido
Tel. 0154-23-7116
Fax. 0154-40-2864