Lake Akan (Akanko)

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in Akan National Park
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Lake Akan with Mount Oakan
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Lake Akan (, Akanko) is a beautiful crater lake in Akan National Park. It is home to marimo, a rare algae species that forms itself into beautiful green balls. Left alone for a few centuries, Lake Akan's marimo can reach the size of soccer balls. The algae have been designated a National Special Natural Monument.

The lakeside hot spring resort of Akankohan is the only town around the lake. It has several ryokan, some of which have hot spring baths with views of the lake on their upper floors. Several hotels open their baths to non-guests during the day for typically 500 to 1500 yen.

Bokke mud pools
Marimo algae

At the town's eastern end, walking trails lead through the forest and along the lake to bubbling mud pools known as bokke. The trails start next to the Akankohan Eco Museum Center where information on Akan National Park and its wildlife is available.

Ainu Kotan is a small Ainu village in Akankohan, which is basically a street lined by souvenir shops specializing in Ainu handicrafts. At the end of the street there is a small museum displaying traditional Ainu crafts, clothes and daily life utensils. Traditional Ainu performances are held in a hall next door.

Sightseeing boats leave Akankohan for 1-hour cruises of the lake, which include a stop at the Marimo Exhibition Center on one of the lake's islands and a ride into the more remote sections of the lake.

Sightseeing boat
Ainu Kotan

Two mountains near Lake Akan compliment the scenery and offer some longer hiking courses. Oakan (Male Mountain) and Meakan (Female Mountain) are both volcanoes whose eruptions formed the landscape around Lake Akan. Meakan remains active and frequently emits sulphuric fumes. Hikers should check with the tourist information center for volcano conditions.

Important Notice

Due to an increased risk of a minor eruption at Mount Meakan, a no-entry zone of 500 meters is currently maintained around one of the mountain's craters. The no-entry zone results in the closure of several hiking trails. The Lake Akan area is not affected by the closure, otherwise.

Meakan's two trailheads are located on the west side of the mountain. Hikers usually depart from one trailhead and return via the other trail. Oakan has just one trail that starts from the eastern end of Lake Akan. Hiking either mountain takes about half a day. They are not difficult hikes, although sturdy hiking shoes are recommended. The mountain trails are passable between June and October. Outside of these dates, they are likely to be buried under snow.

Mount Oakan

Get There and Around

Lake Akan is about 75 kilometers north of Kushiro. Akan Bus operates 3-4 buses per day between Kushiro and the lake, stopping at Kushiro Airport along the way. Direct public transportation between Lake Akan and the national park's other lakes is virtually non-existent, except from mid July to mid October (July 18 to October 12, 2015) when there are infrequent buses between Lake Akan and Mashu Station (50 minutes, 1500 yen one way).

By car, Lake Akan is about 90 minutes from Kushiro and one hour from the national park's other lakes, Lake Mashu and Lake Kussharo, and Kawayu Onsen.

How to get to and around Akan National Park

Hours and Fees

Akankohan Eco Museum Center

Hours

9:00 to 17:00

Closed

Tuesdays and the day following a national holiday, New Year holidays

Fees

Free

Akankohan Ainu Kotan Museum

Hours

10:00 to 22:00

Closed

November to April

Fees

300 yen (1080 yen for performance)

Lake Akanko Boat Tour

Hours

6:00 to 17:00 (shorter hours in shoulder seasons)

Closed

December to mid April

Fees

1900 yen (85 minute cruise and marimo viewing)
Last updated: June 2, 2014
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