by Francois, staff writer of japan-guide.com
2008/10/06 - Autumn Color Report: Lake Akan
The pursuit of the fall colours has brought a group of the japan-guide staff back to Hokkaido, where schauwecker went earlier this season to see Mount Asahidake, Kogen Onsen, and Sounkyo Onsen. This time we will be exploring the eastern area, and started off today at Akan National Park.
After seeing the spectacular photographs brought back from the other trips so far this year, I was excited to go out on a fall colours report trip myself. Unfortunately, I am forced to admit that the scenery of Mount Akan has left me a bit dissapointed. Rather, to be more precise, it is the colour of the scenery which has made me feel somewhat let down. The lakes and trees were all breathtaking, but the colours of the leafs lacked the vibrancy and richness that I had perhaps over-excitedly anticipated.
We flew out of Tokyo early this morning, and arrived an hour and a half later at Kushiro, a port city on Hokkaido's south eastern shore. Since we had some free time, we decided to check out the city's fish market. I think we were all quite happy that we did, because we found that one of the stalls was selling a variety of seafood by bite-size pieces. We all sat down and enjoyed some of Hokkaido's famous fresh fish for a delicious sashimi breakfast.
After the fish market, we began our drive inland in the direciton of Akan National Park. Even though it is not reputed to be an outstanding site for fall colours, we decided to have a look at the Kushiro Marshlands since we would be passing by them anyways. Even with minimal changing colours, the view was impressive.
As we drove farther inland and the elevation became higher the trees alongside the road began to show more and more colour. I enjoyed the drive up quite a bit. The first place we stopped was Takiguchi, where an inlet of Lake Akan feeds into the Akan River and where the trail up the mountain begins. Because of conerns about the weather we had decided earlier that we wouldn't hike up to the top, but we followed the beginnig of the trail for about kilometer or so, passing by the smaller neighbouring lakes Taro and Jiro. The colours were quite nice, but not breathtaking. Nonetheless, I enjoyed the walk very much, breathing in the fresh air and feeling the crisp coolness of fall on my skin.
Next we went to Lake Akan proper . We had reservations at a hotel in the town that adjoins the lake. These views, too, though nice, were not of the same caliber as those I had seen photographs of from the earlier trips. We walked alongside the lakes and through the forest, where volcanic activity results in bubbling pits called Bokke.
As we wondered about the state of Lake Akan's autumn colours, we came to the conclusion that either we had come too early, this year was simply not good for the colours, or that the area was not in fact an exceptional site seeing spot for koyo. Perhaps even all three. We inquired in town at the Akan Tourism Information Office about the predictions for the peak of the fall colours in the area, and were told that we were in fact in it, and that the peak is to occur a couple days later, this Wednesday on the 8th.