Eastern Hokkaido: Akan-Mashu National Park

The Akan-Mashu National Park encompasses 3 lakes in Hokkaido. They are Lake Akan, Lake Kussharo, and Lake Mashu. These 3 lakes were created by calderas and as such are surrounded by hot spring towns.

Lake Akan
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              Lake Akan is the most popular destination of the three lakes, as there are so many things to do. There are 2 mountains; Mt. Me-akan and Mt. O-akan.  You can easily do one day hikes up these mountains.  There is also a small Ainu village in the town surrounding Lake Akan. Here you can see and buy handmade trinkets and statues carved from wood, made by the local Ainu. You may even see some of them carving in the stores as you shop! Enjoy the Ainu museum and replica house while you rest from shopping. Take a 85 minute sightseeing ferry out onto the lake in the summer and fall. If you are lucky enough to be at Lake Akan in the winter, enjoy ice fishing on the frozen lake. There are many tent’s set up and you pay for renting one tent, fishing gear, and bait. Once you are there you can stay as long as you want with free refills of bait. With the small wagasagi (type of small fish) you catch, you can take it to the small restaurant nearby and they will make tempura for you for free (part of the rental fee). If you aren’t interested in ice fishing they have snowmobiles to rent. There are pre-made courses you drive on.
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Ainu Village at Lake Akan.
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Carved wooden trinkets and statues at Lake Akan.

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Ice Fishing on the lake. You can bring your own gear and tent and fish for free.
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Fishing in the rental tents. The small bowl holds the live worm bait and the ice holes are pre-dug-out.

Lake Kussharo
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View from Bihoro Pass

              Lake Kussharo is mainly know for it’s hot springs. There are many outdoor hot springs and a very special sand beach. It is called Sunayu beach. This sand beach is warmed by natural hot spring water. You can dig a hole in the sand and soak your feet in very hot water. This beach is also has a campsite. In the winter 99% of the lake freezes over and the only portion that doesn’t freeze is a few meter from the shore where all of the water is warmed by the natural hot springs. Because of this, you can see many whooper swan in the shallow unfrozen water. You are able to feed them and they are quite friendly. To see a view of the entire lake, drive up to the Bihoro Pass Observatory.
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Sunayu beach where people dig holes to soak their feet in natural thermal waters.
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Whooper swan in the lake in the winter.

Lake Mashu
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View from the 3rd Observatory

              Lake Mashu is the last of the three lakes and located quite close to Lake Kussharo. There are 3 observatories in different parts of the lake. They are called the 1st 2nd & 3rd Observatory. The 1st and the 3rd observatories are located at the rim of the caldera. Beyond seeing the lake at the observatories, you can take a hike starting at the 1st observatory to Mt. Mashudake. The entire trail is on the rim of the caldera so you can always see the lake. 

Colette English