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Hokkaido Lake Akan and Lake Mashu Journey Information • Simply One Cookbook

Discover the great thing about Lake Akan and Lake Mashu and find out about wealthy cultural heritage and historical past of the Ainu individuals.

Sunset over Akan Mashu National Park

Be part of me on half two of my two-day journey throughout East Hokkaido, the place we’ll uncover the wonders of Lake Akan, Lake Kussharo, and Lake Mashu.

On my first day at Akan Mashu Nationwide Park, I made probably the most of some dangerous climate by touring Lake Kussharo. Relaxed in some onsens, and feasting on native Akan meals on the lodge. If you happen to missed out on the primary half, you’ll be able to catch up right here!

For my second and last day in Akan, I used to be greeted with superb climate. I toured the three lakes – Akan, Kussharo, and Mashu – whereas taking within the beautiful surroundings. I’ll additionally delve into the historical past and tradition of the Ainu, the indigenous individuals of Japan, and stand up shut with Akan’s well-known marimo algae! It’s one other day packed filled with journey (and driving), so let’s get into it!

Sunset over Akan Mashu National Park

Lake Akan Cruise

After testing and saying goodbye to the lodge, I made my approach to the Lake Akan space. The lake is located inside the Akan Caldera, which was shaped by the collapse of land following volcanic eruptions hundreds of years in the past.

Lake Akan Onsen sign and natural hot spring water

On the shores of Lake Akan lies Akanko Onsen, a small city crammed with motels, sizzling springs, and eating places. You too can discover the Akankohan Eco-museum Heart, the place you’ll be able to uncover details about effervescent mud swimming pools often known as “bokke” and the park’s distinctive wildlife. Nevertheless, because the climate was sunny, I made a decision to go for the sightseeing cruise. The cruise value 2,000 yen (13 USD) for adults and 1,040 yen (7 USD) for kids (in 2023).

Lake Akan sightseeing cruise boat

The 85-minute cruise takes you across the Akan caldera. Passing by way of the picturesque Takiguchi space and stopping at Churui Island, the place you’ll be able to observe the well-known marimo algae up shut.

Lake Akan sightseeing cruise boat

The boat supplies each indoor and outside seating and has merchandising machines so you’ll be able to seize a drink whereas having fun with the surroundings. 

Inside seating on the Lake Akan Sightseeing cruise

You may admire the attractive nature up shut, and it modifications with the seasons.

On clear days, you’ll be able to witness the lively volcanoes, Mount Meakan and Mount Oakan, towering over the lake. Each volcanoes erupted in 2008, however the eruptions weren’t extreme and shouldn’t deter you from visiting the park.

In direction of the top of the cruise, you’ll have a 15-minute cease on the Marimo Exhibition Heart, the place you’ll be able to study all concerning the spherical algae, Marimo.

Marimo Algea

The underside of Lake Akan is inhabited by marimo, which frequently grows as much as 20 to 30 centimeters in measurement! Traditionally, individuals used to gather marimo from the lake, posing a risk to its existence. Nevertheless, in 1920, it turned a protected species, and in 1940, there was a marketing campaign to safeguard the algae. In 1950, the native Ainu individuals initiated a three-day marimo competition. Culminating with a ritual wherein a senior Ainu, aboard a small picket boat, returns the marimo one after the other, with care and gratitude, into the lake. This competition continues in the present day, usually held in October because the autumn leaves start to fall.

In any case, the cruise provides a 15-minute cease on the Marimo Exhibition Heart so that you can study extra concerning the algae and take some footage.

Lake Akan with Mount Oakan in the background

Lake Akan Ainu Kotan

Close to the sightseeing cruise, you’ll discover Ainu Kotan, a small village with round 120 Ainu settlers from 36 households. Guests can discover the varied outlets promoting handmade items, find out about Ainu tradition, and dine at conventional eating places. Upon arrival, you’ll instantly discover conventional music and distinctive structure, which transports you to the world of the Ainu.

Conventional Ainu Meals

I finished by Marukibune to get some lunch. Right here, they provide soup curry, and ramen, however what caught my eye was the standard Ainu meals.

Marukibune Shop exterior at Lake Akan Ainu Kotan

I made a decision on the Yasei Don (venison rice bowl), which was priced at 2,200 yen (15 USD). Venison has a protracted historical past in Hokkaido’s delicacies, and it held explicit significance in Ainu historical past as deer served as one in all their foremost sources of meals and fur for clothes. The donburi consisted of tender venison, greens, and egg, making a scrumptious mixture. The venison was extremely tender, the greens supplied a slight crunch, and the egg added richness and luxurious to the dish. One of the best ways to explain it’s a mix of oyakodon and gyudon.

Yasei don with venison, vegetables, egg and rice

Conventional Ainu Craft

All through the kotan, you’ll discover varied shops with grasp artisans promoting their intricate wooden carvings of bears, birds, people, and different topics. These are extremely wanted all over the world as authentic Ainu artwork.

To achieve additional perception into the world of Ainu, you can even watch a conventional Ainu dance, which is Hokkaido’s solely designated necessary intangible cultural heritage of Japan. At Ainu Theater Ikor, you’ll be able to watch a 30-minute efficiency of conventional dances, music, and folklore tales. Sadly, no pictures or movies are allowed contained in the theater. 

The efficiency is barely accessible in Japanese, and the doorway price is 1,500 yen for adults and 700 yen (5 USD) for kids.

Alternatively, you’ll be able to attend the Misplaced Kamuy efficiency, which tells the story of the Ainu individuals and the Hokkaido wolf utilizing dance and digital artwork. The doorway price is 2,200 yen (14 USD) for adults and 700 yen (5 USD) for kids.

Ainu Residing Memorial Corridor Poncise

Lastly, you’ll be able to expertise the lifetime of the Ainu by visiting the Ainu Residing Memorial Corridor Poncise (a small home). The thatched-roofed home shows artifacts, clothes, and on a regular basis gadgets that present perception into historical instances, providing a way of how the indigenous individuals lived.

Bihoro Go

Because the clouds disappeared, I made my manner as much as Bihoro Go subsequent to Lake Kussharo. The drive took simply over an hour, with the winding roads slowly ascending the mountains, which had been crammed with bikers and different vacationers seeking to get a glimpse of the spectacular surroundings. 

View from Bihoro Pass of Lake Kussharo

From the observatory at Bihoro Go, you’re greeted with a panoramic view of Kussharo Caldera, which is the biggest caldera lake in Japan.

I like to recommend taking a hike to the highest of the observatory to get one of the best view of the encircling panorama.

View from Bihoro Pass of Lake Kussharo and Bihoro observation deck

From this vantage level, you’ll be able to see the lake’s central island, Nakajima, Wakoto Peninsula, which we briefly visited within the earlier submit, and all the surrounding nature on the park.

The observatory additionally has a relaxation home with varied eating places and outlets.

Throughout my go to, I sampled the favored ageimo (deep-fried potato) and loved some customary ice cream. This time, it wasn’t soft-serve; it was ice cream flavored with Kuma bamboo grass!

For all of the early birds on the market, in case you go to between June and October and the circumstances are proper, you may additionally be lucky sufficient to witness a sea of clouds within the early morning.

Lake Mashu

The final cease of my two-day journey was Lake Mashu, which was roughly a 40-minute drive from Bihoro Go.

There are a number of totally different observatories round Lake Mashu Caldera, however I started with Lake Mashu Observatory No.1.

Lake Mashu

Right here, you should purchase items on the memento store or cease for a snack and a few espresso.

If you happen to climb the steps, you’ll attain an remark deck the place you’ll be able to sit and chill out whereas taking within the view of the lake.

To the fitting, you’ll be capable to see Mount Kamui, which is alleged to be an lively volcano. To not fear, although, because it hasn’t erupted within the final 1,000 years.

View from Bihoro Pass of Lake Kussharo

After some rest, I made my approach to Observatory No.3, only a few minutes by automobile. It was simply time for sundown and it was by far, one of the lovely I had seen.

Within the distance, you’ll be able to view everything of Akan Mashu Nationwide Park, with Iozan (Mt. Ito) and its steaming volcanic vents, often known as fumaroles.

You’ll discover that the edges of the volcanoes are stained white because of the billowing sulfur.

It couldn’t have been a greater approach to conclude the journey, and it jogged my memory why I really like Hokkaido a lot. The japanese aspect is commonly ignored by guests, so I hope this conjures up you to discover it whenever you’re in Japan!

In order that was my two-day journey round Akan Mashu Nationwide Park! What did you assume? Whereas I managed to journey throughout the park in simply two days, there may be a lot extra to discover. For many who love the outside, there are numerous mountain climbing trails across the mountains (however watch out of untamed brown bears) and so many extra observatories. 

The hotter months are nice for having fun with the luscious greenery, whereas the winter months flip the park right into a winter wonderland, crammed with snow-capped mountains and whooper swans. Irrespective of the time of yr, Akan Mashu Nationwide Park is price a go to!

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