Pick Me – The Big Brown Guy

Our small cable car is lifted high above the village of Norboribetsu Onsen and it affords us great views of the southern coastline of Hokkaido island in the distance.  We are on our way up the mountain to visit the Norboribetsu Bear Park.

The ropeway (cable car) up to the park takes around 10 minutes to ascend the steep mountain and it is a great way to take in some of the sights of the area.

Dozens of male and female Hokkaido brown bears are resident at the bear park and the design of the park allows visitors to get up close and personal with the huge native bears.

Each bear has a distinctive personality and they perform individualized tricks to get the attention of the tourists that wish to feed them. Small, healthy bear snacks can be purchased at outlets in the park and you are able to toss the snacks to the performing bears.  Whilst all of this sounds a little cruel the bears are very well looked after and they’re kept entertained too.  Whilst we don’t agree with the caging of wild animals if it must be done then at least here at Noboribetsu bear park it is done with some level of respect for the animals.

In addition to the bears, the small park also houses a bear museum and some huts which display the history of the people native to Hokkaido (Ainu).  Views of the stunning 145 m deep volcanic lake, Lake Kuttara can be seen from the observation deck on top of the bear museum.

Whilst the bear park is not very large, the gondola trip up the mountain and the performing bears are worth experiencing.  If you have time left over after seeing the hot springs area take a trip up to the bear park and see which one of the Ursus arctos lasiotus gets your attention!

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