Rausu Daiichi Hotel: A Bird-Lover’s Nest in Hokkaido, Japan

Bird-watching on Rausu Harbor, East Hokkaido, Japan

Bird-watching on Rausu Harbor, East Hokkaido, Japan

Some of the largest owls in the world live in Japan’s Hokkaido province, and the region is also home to different types of eagles and seabirds. These rare owls have inspired the design of Rausu Daiichi Hotel on Hokkaido’s easternmost shores, a base for base for bird-watchers and other nature lovers.

Here’s the scoop:

Owl art, Rausu Daiichi Hotel, Hokkaido Japan

The world’s largest owls inspired the art at Rausu Daiichi Hotel.

Inspired by the World’s Largest Owls

The town of Rausu sits on the waterfront in far Eastern Hokkaido, within sight of the Kuril Islands archipelago, the isles that have been under Russia’s control since World War II. Rausu companies, including Evergreen Nature Cruises, offer harbor cruises where you can watch white-tailed eagles and Steller’s sea eagles who make this region their winter home, while in summer, you can head out to sea on a whale-watching tour.

But the most intriguing reason to include Rausu in your Japan itinerary is to spot endangered Blakiston’s fish owls. These massive birds can stand more than two feet tall and have a wingspan that stretches to six feet. At the Blakiston’s Fish Owl Observatory in Rausu, you can wait in a heated cabin above the Chitorai River, where the owls come to feed on river fish in the early evening hours. Keep your cameras ready — ideally with a telephoto lens — when a giant owl swoops in.

Lobby, Rausu Daiichi Hotel, Hokkaido Japan

Rausu Daiichi Hotel lobby

Rausu Daiichi Hotel

Ceramic owls, modeled after the endangered birds, are set throughout the spacious lobby at Rausu Daiichi Hotel, convenient both to the harbor and the owl observatory. While it’s not luxurious, the lodge is a comfortable place to stay during an Eastern Hokkaido nature adventure.

Especially if you visit in winter, as we did, a soak in the hotel’s onsen, or hot springs baths, is a wonderful way to relax. Rausu Daiichi Hotel has both indoor and outdoor hot pools where you can soak. In each guest room is a yukata, a robe to wear to the onsen.

If you’re looking for owl souvenirs, the lobby shop has them — a flock of ceramic owls in all different shapes and sizes.

The hotel also has a coin-operated laundry that guests can use, and a restaurant that serves tasty Japanese breakfasts.

Breakfast, Rausu Daiichi Hotel, Hokkaido Japan

A breakfast tray at Rausu Daiichi Hotel

Guest Rooms and Amenities

Rooms at Rausu Daiichi Hotel are outfitted in traditional Japanese style. Some have futon beds set on a low platform and topped with puffy duvets, while in others, the futons roll up to store during the day.

Low chairs sit next to a table on top of a tatami mat. Rooms have wi-fi, as well as an electric kettle, with plus green tea bags and packets of instant coffee. 

Guest room, Rausu Daiichi Hotel, Hokkaido Japan

Guest rooms are furnished in a traditional Japanese style.

The baths are modern, and as in many Japanese hotels, the property provides slippers to wear in your guest room, with separate “toilet” slippers for the bathroom.

Pack binoculars and warm, wind-resistant clothes, and get a good night’s sleep. For guests at Rausu Daiichi Hotel, the owls and other birds are waiting.


Double room rates at Rausu Daiichi Hotel start at about US$150, including breakfast. You can also check rates on the booking site agoda, which is especially good for properties in Asia.

For more ideas to plan a trip to northern Japan, see our reviews of  Lake Akan Tsuruga Wings Resort and Hokuten no Oka Lake Abashiri Tsuruga Resort, other nature resorts in eastern Hokkaido province.


Hotel feature by Vancouver-based travel, food, and feature writer Carolyn B. Heller. Photos © Carolyn B. Heller. JTB Corp. Hokkaido Branch, in partnership with Rausu Daiichi Hotel, hosted my stay for review purposes.

Add Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.