What Not to Miss at Akan National Park

Established in the 1930s, Akan National Park is one of the oldest national parks in Hokkaido. Adorned with some of the clearest lakes around, naturally formed hot springs, and breathtaking scenery that goes through radical transformations with the seasons, the park promises outdoor activities aplenty and a true feast for the eyes.

Lake Mashu

Lake Mashu
Lake Mashu

One of Akan National Park’s most enticing features has to be Lake Mashu whose crystal blue waters have earned it its status as the second clearest lake in the world. While it’s not possible to approach the water’s edge, taking a drive around the surrounding hills promises fantastic views over the lake, especially along the western side, whether it’s reflecting the bright blue sky and surroundings on a clear day or sat mysteriously in one of the frequently passing fogs. Traveling to the lake without a car involves a 25-minute bus ride from Mashu Station which will take you straight to one of the three observation decks.

Marimo Algae

Marimo Algae
Marimo Algae

Found in just a few countries around the globe, marimo are large balls of algae that form naturally at the shallow shores of lakes. The right conditions are rare with a need for low light combined with currents that spin the algae causing it to form a spongy velvet-like ball. The eye-catching marimo can be found in their natural habitat at the edges of Lake Akan, while the Akan Lakeside Eco Museum Center offers a close up look from inside. Not limited to just the natural, the creation of the marimo mascot Marimokkori was inspired by these fluffy algae balls and attracts attention at shops all around Hokkaido for the risqué marimo ball he hides down his pants.

Lake Kussharo

Lake Kussharo
Lake Kussharo

At 57 kilometers all the way round, Lake Kussharo is the largest of Akan National Park’s lakes. With an abundance of natural hot spring water in the area, there are several onsens offering a relaxing place to bathe whether inside or at an unmanned outdoor lakeside spring. The path that borders the lake acts as a picturesque hiking or cycling route, especially around the Wakoto Peninsula at the south of the lake which offers scenic trails through the luscious forests. Activities are by no means limited to the land with opportunities to get out onto the lake for a spot of kayaking or fishing.

Akan Lakeside Eco Museum Center

Akan Lakeside Eco Museum Center
Akan Lakeside Eco Museum Center

The diverse natural landscapes and wildlife of Lake Akan can be appreciated in full with a trip to the Akan Lakeside Eco Museum Center. Found to the west of the lake, the museum is a great place to visit before heading out to the lake. With thorough explanations of everything from the mysterious marimo algae balls to the lake’s wildlife on land and off, you’ll know exactly what to look out for when arriving at the lake.

Autumn colors

Autumn colors
Autumn colors

While the hues of Hokkaido transform together throughout the seasons, the autumn leaves of the woodland surrounding Lake Akan are in particular a sight to behold. Anyone visiting between the months of September and November shouldn’t miss the chance to scramble up a hill for a birdseye view over the multicolored forests below or follow a trail for a close-up look. For one of our recommended spots, head to the southeastern corner of Lake Akan where you’ll find the small adjoining Lake Taro. The rapids running off the lake here storm through low hanging blankets of trees in spectacular shades of red, orange, and yellow.

Facility Name
Akan National Park
Address
Hokkaido Kushiroshi , Teshikaga Town, Kawakami gun, others
Introduction
This is the most historic national park in Hokkaido, and consists of three caldera lakes including Japan’s largest caldera, Lake Kussharo, and the active volcanoes of Mt. Meakan and Mt. Iou. A unique ecological system has been formed through the impact of the lakes and volcanoes. Near Kawayu Onsen hot springs, which uses the source of Mt. Iou, and Lake Akan hot springs, located on the south side of Lake Akan, there are popular spa towns crowded with many tourists throughout the year. The Akan Lake Eco Museum Center within the region introduces the nature of Akan National Park, offers tour guides, and lends skis and snowshoes in winter.
Information Sources:
NAVITIME JAPAN
Facility Name
Lake Mashu
Address
Hokkaido Kawakamigunteshikagachou
Parking Lot
Available
Introduction
The mysterious caldera lake also called “Lake Mashu of Mist” has a circumference of 20 kilometers and depth of 212 meters. The water level of the lake remains unchanged although the lake has no rivers flowing in or out. The lake is characterized by its high water transparency because impurities do not flow into it. The Ainu people call the lake Kintan Kamuy-to (Lake of the Mountain Gods) and has long been idolized by them.
Information Sources:
NAVITIME JAPAN
Facility Name
Akankohan Eco-Museum Center
Address
Hokkaido Kushiroshi Akanchouakankonsen 1-1-1
Phone
0154674100
Hours
9:00-17:00
[Summer period 8/1-8/20] 9:00-18:00
Closed
Tuesday (The next day in the case of Public holiday)
Fees
Free admission
Parking Lot
Available
Credit Card
Not available
Introduction
Akankohan Eco-Museum Center introduces you to the lush nature in the Akan National Park Akan area. The Akan Marimo (round green algae) has been designated as a Special Natural Monument. The resting room has a big fireplace and is good for a rest after walking around the lake. You can hire the snowshoes and cross country skis. You can enjoy a walk on the Bokke nature trail which is behind the museum.
Information Sources:
NAVITIME JAPAN
Facility Name
Lake Kussharo
Address
Hokkaido Kawakamigunteshikagachou
Introduction
Lake Kussharo is located in the Akan National Park in Eastern Hokkaido. It is the largest caldera lake in Japan and also the largest freshwater lake in Japan to freeze over completely in winter. On the south side the Wako Peninsula juts out and in the lake is Nakajima Island. It is said that about 500 swans migrate to the lake during the winter months and it is a popular spot to take photos.
Information Sources:
NAVITIME JAPAN
Facility Name
Taroko
Address
Hokkaido Kushiroshi Akan-cho National Forest 2129 Hayashihan
Phone
0154673200
Business hours
Visit free
Information Sources:
NAVITIME JAPAN

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PLACES IN THIS ARTICLE

  • dummy image

    Taroko

    Lake
    Hokkaido Kushiroshi Akan-cho National Forest 2129 Hayashihan
  • Lake Mashu image

    Lake Mashu

    Lake
    Hokkaido Kawakamigunteshikagachou
  • Lake Kussharo image

    Lake Kussharo

    Lake
    Hokkaido Kawakamigunteshikagachou
  • Akankohan Eco-Museum Center image

    Akankohan Eco-Museum Center

    Tourist office
    Hokkaido Kushiroshi Akanchouakankonsen 1-1-1
  • Akan National Park image

    Akan National Park

    Park
    Hokkaido Kushiroshi , Teshikaga Town, Kawakami gun, others
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