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Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Akan National Park article)

From Wikitravel

Asia : East Asia : Japan : Hokkaido : Eastern Circuit : Akan National Park
Twisted trees near Lake Mashuko
Twisted trees near Lake Mashuko

Akan National Park (阿寒公立公園 Akan-kokuritsu-kōen) is a large national park in the eastern part of the Japanese island of Hokkaido.


The park's attractions are its three sparkling clear mountain lakes, the eponymous Lake Akan (阿寒湖 Akan-ko) to the west, Lake Mashū (摩周湖 Mashū-ko) to the east and Lake Kussharo (屈斜路湖 Kussharo-ko) between them. The largest settlement nearby is Teshikaga (弟子屈), to the south of Lakes Kussharo and Mashu.

Get in


By plane

The nearest airports are in Kushiro, an hour and a half to the south, Nakashibetsu, an hour to the east, and Memanbetsu, an hour and a half to the north.

By train

The JR Senmō Line (釧網本線) runs north-south across the park on its way from Abashiri to Kushiro, stopping at Kawayu and Teshikaga (Mashu station). There are around 4 trains daily to Abashiri (2 hours, ¥1600) and 6-7 to Kushiro (1:40, ¥1790).

By bus

Infrequent buses connect the lakes to each other and the train station at Bihoro.

Get around

Buses are infrequent and cover only the main routes. A rental car will come in very handy here.

The unearthly hues of the Kaminoko Pond
The unearthly hues of the Kaminoko Pond
  • Lake Akan (阿寒湖 Akan-ko). The best-known of the trio, largely thanks to mysterious fuzzy green algae balls known as marimo , which you can view at the free visitor's center. There is also a small Ainu museum and lacklustre dance performances in the village of Ainu Kotan.
  • Lake Mashū (摩周湖 Mashū-ko). Entirely protected, without a single building along its pristine shores, Lake Mashu can only be viewed from two designated lookout points, known as #1 (the larger and busier of the two, parking ¥410, on the south shore) and #3 (on the north shore, free parking). A deep volcanic caldera lake, the lookout points are suspended high on cliffs above, and the bonzaiesque appearance of the gnarled trees nearby are a testament to the strong winds that seem to blow incessantly. Often blanketed with a thin layer of fog. Starkly beautiful and worth a visit.
  • Kaminoko Pond (神の子池 Kaminoko-ike). Literally "Child of God Pond", this is a small pond in the middle of the forest, reachable only by a long dirt track (no 4WD needed). What makes the bumpy trip worthwhile is that the water in the pond is a truly unearthly shade of transparent sapphire blue. The track is a few kilometers north of the Ura-Mashuko (#3) lookout.
  • Lake Kussharo (屈斜路湖 Kussharo-ko). Also a caldera lake, but a bit livelier than the others as the volcanic peak of Mt. Wakoto (和琴山 Wakoto-san, 266m), jutting out from the southern shore, still bubbles, hisses (and stinks) with geothermal activity. An easy trail runs around the island. Good swimming in the summertime.
  • Mt. Iō (硫黄山 Iō-zan). Literally "Sulphur Mountain", which is a fairly good hint of what you will see and smell if you go poke around the jigoku (hells). 5 minutes north of Kawayu by car.
  • Canoeing along the nearby Kushiro river is a popular if expensive activity, with a 90-minute guided trips from ¥5500.
  • The hot spring resorts of Kawayu (near Lake Kussharo) and Akan Kohan (at Lake Akan) offer, surprise surprise, hot springs.
  • There are many excellent hikes in the region. In summertime at the Akan Kohan ski ground (阿寒湖畔スキー場), there are two interesting short hikes, one 550m, the other 2.2km. The shorter one takes you to a ski slope with an excellent view of Lake Akan, its islands and the surrounding forest. The longer one starts off climbing about 900m up a ski slope before delving into the surrounding forest and taking you past a hot water creek (47 degrees), and several bokke (ボッケ), an Ainu word referring to hot mud caused by volcanism. Another hike from the Kawayu Onsen Visitor's Centre to Iwo-san (2.4km) is a very flat and easy but extremely interesting one starting off in luxuriant forest on a moss path before petering out into desert-like scrub as you approach the poisonous vapours of Iwo-san.


Near Lake Akan, the small village of Ainu Kotan is a tourist trap filled with Ainu handicrafts.

  • Mashūko Youth Hostel (摩周湖ユースホステル). Tel. 01548-2-3098, [1]. A very friendly youth hostel halfway between the town of Mashuko and the lake. Included in the price are free homemade cakes and yogurt after dinner and all-you-can-drink milk in the morning, fresh from the neighboring farm — and you can even go squeeze your own glassful in the morning! HI members pay ¥3360 a night (VISA accepted). Take a Bihoro/Kawayu-bound bus from JR Mashu station to "Youth hostel-mae", or call for free pickup from the station after 4 PM. Recommended.
  • Wakoto Peninsula Campground (和琴半島キャンプ場 Wakoto-hantō kyanpu-jō). Beautifully located on the shore of Lake Kussharo, with Mt. Wakoto steaming right in front. Facilities include free (but very basic) open-air and indoor hot spring baths to soak in. There is also a convenient restaurant nearby with dishes ¥500 and up. Camping costs ¥400 per person per night.
  • Akan yuku no sato Tsuruga[2]. Located on Lake Akan, this modern ryokan hotel has open outdoor baths where you can view the lake, or several indoor baths which are varied and quite nice. There are a variety of rooms for those that prefer Western style, or they have 'semi-Japanese' style as well.
  • You're already almost at the end of Japan, so why not head north to the outermost point of all, Shiretoko National Park?
  • The little town of Bihoro has nothing to see, but the trip there via the scenic Bihoro Pass may be worth a drive.
Routes through Akan National Park
Abashiri  N noframe S  Kushiro
This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also akan



Wikipedia has an article on:




  1. Of or pertaining to the Akan people.
  2. Of or pertaining to the Akan language and other related languages.

Proper noun




  1. A people who inhabit Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire.
  2. The Niger-Congo language spoken by these people.
  3. A group of languages spoken in Ghana.
  4. A volcano in Hokkaido, Japan.

Derived terms

  • Akan States


See also



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