Lakes Kussharo, Mashu and Akan
There are three popular lakes in Akan National Park. Lake Kussharo is known as the largest caldera lake in Japan. Lake Mashu is the clearest lake in the world and famous for its mysterious deep blue color, and Lake Akan is famous for its “Marimo”, the rare algae species that grow into large green balls. Many tourists visit this area during their trip in Hokkaido since there are also other tourist attractions such as small beautiful lakes, typical large green fields, volcanoes and hot springs.
Lake Kussharo, Bihoro Pass
On a fine day you should go to the observatory deck on the top of Bihoro Pass to enjoy a wonderful panoramic view of Lake Kussharo which is known as the largest caldera lake in Japan. You will also be able to enjoy a great view during the drive from Bihoro Pass to Lake Kussharo.
Additionally, it must be a good experience for you to be relaxed in the hot springs around the lake. Sunayu Beach is famous for its hot spring water just below its surface, and many tourists dig a hole on the beach to make their own hot spring bath. Kawayu Onsen, located between Lake Kussharo and Lake Mashu, is also a very popular hot spring among the tourists.
Lake Mashu, Kaminoko Pond, Mt. Iou
Lake Mashu is known as the clearest lake in the world. It is also called “Foggy Lake Mashu” because it is frequently wrapped in fog from June to August, but its surface with the mysterious deep blue color called “Mashu blue” appears on a fine day. Actually, I had to visit this lake three times to see its blue color during my trip in June.
Kaminoko Pond is filled with the clear underground water from Lake Mashu. Although it is located near the Ura-Mashu Observatory in the other side of the 1st and 3rd Observatories across the lake, it is worth visiting, since here you can see its reflective surface like a mirror and impressive old trees lying on the bottom.
Mt. Iou is an active volcano located between Lake Mashu and Lake Kussharo. There are many yellow, sulfurous vents that emit steam and gases, and you can enjoy the different type of landscape in this area.
Lake Akan, Lake Onneto
In order to enjoy Lake Akan many tourists take a sightseeing boat to see the natural forest around the lake and the mountains such as Mt. Oakandake and Mt. Meakandake. During the boat cruise tour you visit Churui Island on the lake to see “Marimo”, the rare algae species that grow into large green ball.
You should also enjoy walking in a hot spring town along the lakeshore and “Ainu Kotan”, a small village which has many souvenir shops specializing in Ainu handicrafts. During my visit I enjoyed not only the local dishes at “Nabekyu” but also the hot spring at “Marimo-yu”, the public bathhouse for regional residents.
Lake Onneto is about 30 minutes’ drive by car from Lake Akan. I strongly recommend you visit this beautiful lake because it changes its color depending on the season, the weather and an angle. Furthermore, it offers a great view of both Mt. Oakandake and Mt. Meakandake.
Tawadaira is a typical farm in Hokkaido where you can enjoy a 360-degree panoramic view of the horizon. It does not take an hour to get there from Lake Mashu, and you should visit on a fine day. I think it must be also a great experience for you to watch the sunset or the starry sky here.
Many tourists rent a car at Kushiro Airport or Memenbetsu Airport. There is a website which shows you the detail to get there.
Let me introduce my travel route in 2015 for your reference. After staying at Betsukai-cho Fureai Camp Site, I moved to Nijibetsu Auto-camping Ground to visit not only Akan National Park but also Kushiro Marsh. Please note that the travel route below is a little complicated because I often had to interrupt or change the schedule of a day trip depending on the weather.
|1||around Kushiro (car): rainy||Red-crowned Crane Nature Park
Akan International Crane Centre
|2||Betsukai -> Shibecha (car)
around Lake Kussharo (car)
Lake Kussharo, Sunayu Beach
|3||around Mt. Iou (car): rainy||Mt. Iou||Shibecha (Nijibetsu)|
|4||around Lake Akan (car)||Lake Akan
|5||around Kushiro (car)||Hosooka Observatory in Kushiro
Kawayu Hot Spring
|6||around Kushiro and Lake Mashu (car)||Canoeing through Kushiro Marshland
Hiking to Cape Kirakotan
|7||Shibecha -> Next (car)|