Akan Mashu Nationwide Park – Lake Kussharo Journey Information • Simply One Cookbook


Discover Akan Mashu Nationwide Park and Japan’s largest caldera lake – Lake Kussharo on this journey information.

Lake kussharo with stone beach in the foreground

Hokkaido is the biggest prefecture in Japan, masking 32,221 sq mi (83,454 km²), which is twice as giant as all the Kyushu island! The northern island is characterised by expansive mountains, farms, and huge open plains that stretch so far as the attention can see. Whereas the central and western areas, corresponding to Sapporo, Otaru, and Hakodate, are common vacationer locations, the jap areas are sometimes left untouched, boasting surroundings that’s equally, if no more, stunning and breathtaking than that of the remainder of Hokkaido.

View overlooking Lake Kussharo

Regardless of residing in Sapporo for over 4 years, I had by no means visited the jap aspect of Hokkaido attributable to its relative inaccessibility. Buddies and colleagues usually advised me about the great thing about the world round Lake Akan, well-known for its Marimo algae, wildlife, sizzling springs (onsens), and dirt volcanoes. So, I packed my luggage and launched into a 2-day street journey, which I’ll share with you!

Let’s dive into half considered one of this two-part information to Japanese Hokkaido in Akan Mashu Nationwide Park!

What’s Akan Mashu Nationwide Park

Akan Mashu Nationwide Park, established in 1934, is likely one of the longest-established parks in Hokkaido. The park is famend for its crystal-clear lakes, onsens, and unparalleled views. Nonetheless, earlier than being designated as a park, it was house to the Ainu indigenous group. Whereas the Ainu inhabitants has dwindled, you’ll be able to nonetheless expertise their historical past and traditions on the Ainu Kotan village, which I’ll delve into additional within the subsequent publish.

Lake Masshu

The core of the nationwide park is shaped by the Akan Caldera, Kussharo Caldera, and Mashu Caldera, which had been all created by a collection of eruptions from the Chishima Volcanic Zone. The park is split into two principal areas: Kawayu and Akan. Kawayu encompasses the gorgeous Lake Kussharo and Lake Mashu. In the meantime, Akan consists of equally spectacular Lake Akan, Lake Onneto, which is located southwest of Lake Akan, and quite a few different small mountains and lakes.

Mountains of Akan Mashu National Park

When is the most effective time to go to Akan Mashu Nationwide Park

The nationwide park reveals its charming attraction year-round, with every season providing its distinctive surroundings.

From June to September, it’s all about absorbing the summer season greenery and stepping into all types of outside enjoyable. It’s prime time for hitting the mountain trails, taking within the epic views, and simply typically having fun with the nice outside.

Wooden pier with swan boats at the end at lake Kussharo

Come late September and October, it’s just like the mountains and lakes determined to throw on their fancy autumn jackets—all decked out in golden yellows, oranges, and deep crimson reds. It’s a complete leafy takeover!

And when December rolls round, brace your self for a winter wonderland! The freezing temps work their magic, turning every part right into a snowy paradise. Mountains put on cozy snow blankets, and lakes freeze over, opening the door for all types of winter enjoyable, like making an attempt your hand at some ice fishing. It’s chilly however oh-so-magical!

Methods to get to Akan Mashu Nationwide Park


From Sapporo, it takes roughly 4 and a half to 5 hours to achieve the park. One route takes you thru the middle of Hokkaido, passing by means of Obihiro. One other route takes you barely additional north, by means of Asahikawa. Each routes take roughly the identical period of time, nevertheless it’s value noting that tolls can price greater than 6000 yen a method (USD $40 in 2023).


In case you don’t get pleasure from driving lengthy distances, touring by airplane stands out as the most handy choice. When departing from Sapporo, you will have two airports to select from: Okadama Airport and New Chitose Airport. From both of those airports, you’ll be able to fly to Memanbetsu Airport or Kushiro Airport.

From Memanbetsu Airport, you’ll be able to take a taxi to Nishimemanbetsu Station. Then, board the KR Sekihoku Most important Line to Abashiri Station, which takes roughly 25 minutes and prices 540 yen. From Abashiri Station, switch to the JR Senmo Line to Kawayu Onsen, which is a 2-hour journey and prices 1,890 yen.

In case you’re arriving at Kushiro Airport, you’ll be able to board the Akan Airport Liner bus, which can take you on to Lake Akan in 70 minutes. This bus operates solely 4 to 5 instances a day and prices 2,190 yen for a one-way ticket.


From Sapporo, you’ll be able to take the Ozora Restricted Specific to Kushiro Station, which is a couple of four-and-a-half-hour journey and prices 9,990 yen (USD $67 in 2023). From Kushiro Station, you’ll be able to then board the Akan Airport Liner bus, as talked about earlier.

The general public transport inside and across the park is proscribed and should differ relying on the season. Due to this fact, I extremely suggest renting a automotive while you arrive on the park, the station, or the airport.

Lake Kussharo – Sea of Clouds

As I had restricted time to journey, I wished to take advantage of my time within the park. I left within the night and drove for 5 hours earlier than reaching Lake Kussharo.

My hope was to witness the Sea of Clouds throughout dawn from Tsubetsu Move Observatory—a dream of mine, albeit notoriously difficult because it relies upon fully on climate situations. Anyway, I arrived at Lake Kussharo round 1 am, and it was pouring rain. Opting to catch a number of hours of sleep in my automotive, I awakened later to make the drive to the observatory. The street up is slim and darkish, with wild deer roaming, so please watch out should you plan to go. Sadly, my view was obscured by a blanket of grey. It was so cloudy that I couldn’t see greater than 5 meters in entrance of me… I assume my dream continues!

Right here’s an image of what the ocean of clouds ought to appear to be when the situations are proper.

The morning sun and sea of clouds over Lake Kussharo, Hokkaido, Japan
licensed from Shutterstock

Exploring Lake Kussharo

After getting a number of extra hours of sleep, I put aside my disappointment (and fatigue) and determined to start out exploring the lake. By that point, it was cloudy, however visibility was good.

If you go to locations like these, you at all times hope for good climate and clear visibility to completely benefit from the surrounding surroundings. Nonetheless, driving by means of the mountains with morning clouds rolling down the mountainsides, the sound of awakening birds, and scattered rays of sunshine piercing by means of the clouds proved to be simply as stunning. It was a really completely different ambiance from what I had envisioned, nevertheless it was serene and peaceable—an ideal begin to the day.

Lake Kussharo is the biggest of the three lakes within the park, with a circumference of 35 miles (57 km). It’s additionally the biggest caldera lake in Japan, providing varied vantage factors from which you’ll be able to admire its dimension and sweetness. Its title is derived from the Ainu language, “kut-char” (クㇳチャㇻ), which suggests “marsh water outlet.”

Round Lake Kussharo, yow will discover many open onsens which can be accessible to each genders. These onsens are free to enter, and you’ll select to make use of them with or with no swimsuit, relying in your consolation degree.

My first cease was at Wakoto Peninsula, the place you can see a panoramic view of Lake Kussharo and the encompassing mountains. Regardless of the dangerous climate the earlier evening, many individuals had been tenting and having fun with nature. The close by Wakoto Scorching Spring and shared bathhouse are shut by, so you’ll be able to have a calming morning. Sadly, because the amenities had been in use, I wasn’t in a position to take footage.

Lake Kussharo on a cloudy day

Persevering with alongside the jap aspect of the lake, I made two extra stops at onsens, Ikenoyu Open-Air Tub, and Kotan Open-Air Tub. Each are free to make use of and are mixed-gender baths. Ikenoyu is a spacious tub with unbelievable views over Lake Kussharo, whereas Kotan is a little more secluded, providing you with the sensation of bathing within the lake. It’s divided by some rocks into two halves for women and men, with two small huts for altering.

Heading slightly additional up north, I reached Sunayu Onsen, which affords a novel open-air onsen expertise. Alongside the lakeside sandy seashore, should you dig a gap, pure onsen water will seem on the floor so you’ll be able to dip your ft while having fun with the encompassing surroundings. Throughout summer season, you’ll be able to benefit from the heat waters within the lake, tenting and journey one of many pedal boats.

In winter, the geothermal exercise attracts whooper swan colonies, making a picturesque scene that’s common with photographers.

Swan on Lake Kussharo, Hokkaido, Japan
licensed from Shutterstock
Pistachio soft serve at lake Kussharo

Pistachio mushy serve! Irrespective of the time or season, yow will discover mushy serve in all places.

Man praying at Kawayu Shrine
Kawayu Shrine

Mt. Io (Sulfur mountain). As you method, there’s a definite sulfur odor within the air.

Lunch – Miso Venison Ramen

For these studying which have visited Sapporo, you’ll be aware of miso ramen. Near Lake Kussharo is Teshikaga City, house to the flagship retailer, Teshikaga Ramen (which additionally has a store within the well-known Sapporo Ramen Alley). I’ve had the miso ramen within the Sapporo store many instances however one explicit dish caught my eye: miso ramen topped with venison.

You could be questioning, why venison? There are two causes. First, deer have lengthy held a spot in Hokkaido’s culinary custom, because the indigenous Ainu group used to hunt deer for his or her meat and fur to make garments.

Secondly, there’s a large deer inhabitants in Hokkaido. Whereas there’s no official quantity, it’s estimated to be within the a whole bunch of hundreds. The sheer variety of deer has led to issues with native farms and deforestation. Throughout winter, attributable to a scarcity of meals, these deer eat the mushy inside layer of tree bark, inflicting the timber to wither.

Due to this fact, deer are hunted humanely and sustainably, with the purpose of mitigating hurt to the encompassing forests and farms and sustaining a balanced inhabitants.

Miso Ramen with Yezo deer meat and pork belly

Anyway, the ramen was scrumptious. For those who haven’t tried miso ramen, it’s so wealthy, deep, and packed stuffed with umami. It’s fully completely different from traditional shouyu (soy sauce) or tonkotsu (pork broth) ramen. At first look, I assumed the venison can be robust nevertheless it was surprisingly tender and had a scrumptious gamey taste. I wouldn’t say it’s a should eat however if you’re craving ramen, then it’s value a strive.

Miso Ramen with Yezo deer meat and pork belly

Resort & Spa Resort La Vista Akangawa Kushiro

After all of the touring, I made a decision to examine in to my resort for the evening, Resort & Spa Resort La Vista Akangawa Kushiro, positioned 10 minutes away from Lake Akan. The resort is nestled in Akan’s serene nature, subsequent to the Akan River, making it the right retreat to chill out in. 

Every room comes with its onsen tub with views overlooking the forest and meandering river. There’s additionally a public onsen with an outside tub, sauna, and water tub in addition to three completely different non-public baths at no cost use on the bottom flooring. All the water used to run these onsens is sourced from close by springs.

In room onsen with views outside

The room was spacious with probably the biggest mattress I had ever seen! On the finish of the room, there was an exquisite view of the Akan River, which regularly had wild deer roaming by means of and feeding on the grass. Truthfully, I want I might have spent every week there because it felt like an oasis, which helped me escape my hectic life again in Sapporo.

I can’t say sufficient good phrases about La Vista, from the amenities, plethora of onsens, cozy room and meals, which I’ll get into now.

Dinner at Resort & Spa Resort La Vista Akangawa Kushiro

The eating room is positioned on the bottom flooring, overlooking the Akan River. As you eat, you’ll be able to benefit from the roaming deer and tranquil setting. The menu consisted of native components caught across the space.

Hotel dinner menu
Hotel dinner appetizer of Shima ebi (shrimp), Pacific saury, marinated salmon, fish cake wrapped in deep-fried tofu, whelk, boiled seasoned mushrooms.
Appetizer – Shima ebi (shrimp), Pacific saury, marinated salmon, fish cake wrapped in deep-fried tofu, whelk, boiled seasoned mushrooms.
Simmered Kinki fish
Simmered Kinki fish
Hokkaido beef
Hokkaido Beef with do-it-yourself sauce
Bouillabaisse Hot Pot
Bouillabaisse Scorching Pot
Fried Akan smelt fish
Fried Akan smelt fish
Rice porridge using bouillabaisse hot pot broth
Rice porridge utilizing bouillabaisse sizzling pot broth
Pumpkin mochi and chestnut purin (flan)
Pumpkin mochi and chestnut purin (flan)

The entire meal was unbelievable however there was A LOT of meals, which is an efficient factor! Simply ensure you make sufficient room beforehand. We had been additionally greeted by some wild deer that strolled previous proper in entrance of our window!

Kamuy Lumina – Night time Stroll at Lake Akan

After the scrumptious dinner, I headed out to a particular evening occasion known as, Kamuy Lumina. Impressed by the Ainu tradition, the Ainu legend, “The Story of the Owl and the Jay Chook,” and the pure fantastic thing about the forests in Lake Akan, the enchanting expertise takes you alongside a 1.2km evening stroll. You’re given a ‘Rhythm Employees’ to make use of all through the stroll, immersing you thru lights, soundscape, scenography, and video projection.

Kamuy Lumina entrance

The stroll takes you alongside eight completely different story factors all through the forest, every with a novel setting. I cherished each a part of it, from the lights and projection mapping to the music and story.

Tickets are 3,500 yen (USD 23) on the day or 3,000 yen (USD 20) if booked upfront. You possibly can e-book tickets on-line however your resort can also promote discounted tickets on the resort reception. The narration and story are solely in Japanese however there’s a cell app, the place you’ll be able to comply with the story in English. You could find extra info right here!

After a protracted time out, it was time to benefit from the resort’s onsen and chill out.

I’ll get extra into Lake Akan, Lake Mashu, and the Ainu Kotan (village) because the cloudy skies disappear and the solar lastly comes out! Keep tuned for half two!



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