Rishiri Island

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Native name: 利尻島, Rishiri-tō
Rishiri is located in Japan
Archipelago Japanese archipelago
Area 183 km2 (71 sq mi)
Length 19 km (11.8 mi)
Width 14 km (8.7 mi)
Coastline 63 km (39.1 mi)
Highest elevation 1,721 m (5,646 ft)
Highest point Mount Rishiri
Prefecture Hokkaido
Subprefecture Sōya Subprefecture
District Rishiri District
Town Rishiri
Population 5102 (2013)
Pop. density 30.81 /km2 (79.8 /sq mi)
Ethnic groups Ainu, Japanese

Rishiri Island (利尻島, Rishiri-tō) is an island in the Sea of Japan off the coast of Hokkaido, Japan. Administratively the island is part of Hokkaido Prefecture, and is divided between two towns, Rishiri and Rishirifuji. The island is formed by the cone-shaped extinct volcanic peak of Mount Rishiri.[1] Along with Rebun Island and the coastal area of the Sarobetsu Plain, Rishiri forms the Rishiri-Rebun-Sarobetsu National Park. The main industries of Rishiri are tourism and fishing. The island is about 63 kilometres (39 mi) in circumference and covers 183 square kilometres (71 sq mi). The island has a population of 5,102 residents.[2][3][4][5]


Rishiri derives its name from the Ainu language, and means "high island", or "island with a high peak", a reference to the altitude of Mount Rishiri above sea level.[3][6]

Relief Map


Rishiri Island is located roughly 20 kilometres (12 mi) west of Hokkaido; Rebun Island is a further 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) to the northwest. Rishiri is roughly circular with a coastline of 63 kilometres (39 mi). The island spans 19 kilometres (12 mi) from north to south and 14 kilometres (8.7 mi) from east to west. Mount Rishiri rises to an altitude of 1,721 metres (5,646 ft) above the island. Mount Rishiri provides a good source of fresh water; numerous small ponds and springs are located at the foot of the mountain.[3][7]

The residents of Rishiri Island live on the coastal areas of the island, which are connected by bus service which circumnavigates the island.[3]

Von Karman vortices being formed by the peak of Mount Rishiri (lower center) in April 2001.


The island is divided between two towns, Rishiri (population, 2,304), which belongs to Rishiri District on south-west half of island, and Rishirifuji (population 2,798) on north-east half of island, both which belong to Rishiri District, Sōya Subprefecture.[4][5]

These towns include the following communities, listed from the north side of the island, clockwise around:


A bus runs the circuit route around the island.

Rishiri Airport is located in Rishirifuji.


  • 1807-1808 Failed military expedition to Sakhalin, part of deceased buried at cape Peshi.
  • Ranald MacDonald (1824-1894), first native English teacher in Japan, landed on Rishiri in 1848.
  • On February 7, 2013, the Japanese government claimed that Russian SU-27 fighter jets had been spotted above Japanese waters off Rishiri Island. Russia denies the claim.


The economy of Rishiri Island formerly depended on the fishing of Pacific herring, but the herring stock is now mostly depleted. Rishiri Island is now noted for its production of dried kombu.[3][6]

Noted features[edit]

  • Pon-yama (444m) - a mountain top near north coast, nearby a site of non-coastal hiking camp on island

Other features of Rishiri Island include:

  • Cape Peshi on the East side of the port Oshidomari
  • Cape Senhoshi
    • Neguma (Sleeping Bear) Rock
  • Jimmen Rock
  • Ponmoshiri Island
  • Hime Marsh
  • Menūshoro Marsh
  • Otatomari Marsh

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Nussbaum, Louis-Frédéric. (2005). "Rishiri-tō" in Japan Encyclopedia, p. 791.
  2. ^ "利尻島" [Rishiri Island]. Nihon Rekishi Chimei Taikei (in Japanese). Tokyo: Shogakukan. 2013. OCLC 173191044. Archived from the original on 2007-08-25. Retrieved 2013-09-09. 
  3. ^ a b c d e "利尻島" [Rishiri Island]. Nihon Daihyakka Zensho (Nipponika) (in Japanese). Tokyo: Shogakukan. 2013. OCLC 153301537. Archived from the original on 2007-08-25. Retrieved 2013-09-06. 
  4. ^ a b 人口 [Population] (in Japanese). Rishiri, Hokkaido: Town of Rishiri. 2013. Retrieved 2013-09-18. 
  5. ^ a b 人口 [Population] (in Japanese). Rishirifuji, Hokkaido: Town of Rishirifuji. 2013. Retrieved 2013-09-18. 
  6. ^ a b "利尻島" [Rishiri Island]. Nihon Kokugo Daijiten (in Japanese). Tokyo: Shogakukan. 2013. OCLC 56431036. Archived from the original on 2007-08-25. Retrieved 2013-09-10. 
  7. ^ "利尻島" [Rishiri Island]. Dijitaru Daijisen (in Japanese). Tokyo: Shogakukan. 2013. OCLC 56431036. Archived from the original on 2007-08-25. Retrieved 2013-12-14. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 45°11′N 141°15′E / 45.183°N 141.250°E / 45.183; 141.250