Kushiro/Akan/Akkeshi/Nemuro Activities at the Mystical Lakes

Hokkaido is home to countless lakes. Lake Onneto, Lake Akan, and Lake Mashu in the Akan-Mashu National Park are among the most beautiful. Each has its own unique scenery and activities to enjoy. Do more than just see the sights! Here are some tips on how to enjoy these three lakes in Akan-Mashu National Park.

Lake Onneto—One of Hokkaido’s Three Mystic Lakes

Lake Onneto is about 2.5km in circumference. Its name means "old swamp" in the Ainu language. The most attractive feature of the lake is the color of the lake's surface—it changes depending on the season and time. In autumn, you can see the reversed reflections of the autumn leaves on the surface, and in winter, you can see the ice bubbles, a phenomenon in which gas emitted from the surface of the lake is trapped in the ice, a sight that can overwhelm one with a sense of mystery. The colors also change depending on where, and from what angle you look, exhibiting a wide range of expressions. The blue color of the lake is called "onnetto blue," making it a place often visited by photography enthusiasts looking to capture the mysterious color.

*During winter (from early December to mid-April), the road to Lake Onneto is closed, making it a roughly 2km walk from Nonaka Onsen.

Hiking is a highly recommended activity at Lake Onneto. The lake is surrounded by a forest where only red spruce trees grow, a rarity in Hokkaido. Hiking here through the mystical atmosphere created by the 300-year-old trees and alpine vegetation is a valuable experience. You can also enjoy a stroll through the pristine forest and bathe in the forest atmosphere. Forget the hustle and bustle of the city and refresh your mind and body.

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Find Marimo Moss at Lake Akan

Lake Akan, with a circumference of approximately 26 kilometers, is famous for being a habitat for the filamentous balls of green algae called marimo.

Frost flowers blooming on the surface of the lake in mid-winter

In mid-winter, you can see the natural phenomenon known as frost flowers, in which frost crystals on the lake bloom in flower-like formations. It is a volcanic area, meaning there are also hot springs in the vicinity.

Lake Akan is a great place for boat cruises. Take the Akan Kanko Steamer and enjoy the magnificent scenery from on the lake. The streamer stops at Chuluwi Island, a small island on the lake. The island is home to the Marimo Exhibition and Observation Center, where you can learn about the ecology of marimo moss. The steamer usually operates from late April until the end of November, but the start date is subject to change depending on the conditions of the ice on the lake. Departure times and the number of trips made vary depending on the season, so be sure to check in advance.

Lake Akan is also a popular fishing spot. It is home to a wide variety of fish species, including sockeye salmon and rainbow trout, but it is the white-spotted char that anglers are most interested in. The lake is known as the "holy land of white-spotted char" and attracts many anglers from overseas. It has its own regulations, such as fishing periods and fees. Fishing Land Akan offers various services such as fishing tickets, boat fishing, and transporting anglers to fishing spots. Abide by the rules and local manners to get the most out of your fishing experience.

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Lame Mashu—the Most Translucent Lake in Japan

Lake Mashu is one of the most transparent lakes in Japan and the world. The beauty of the lake on a clear day is especially impressive. In winter, when its surface is half frozen and has turned a sapphire blue, it is a particularly spectacular sight. Nearby you will find Jinoko Pond, which was formed by subterranean water gushing to the surface. The clarity and beauty of the Kaminokoike pond also make it worth a visit.

Snowshoeing is a great winter activity at Lake Mashu. The lake can only be reached by car up to the first observatory during the winter. You can snowshoe beyond that point to enjoy the glimpse of the scenery that cannot be seen from a car, and traverse a silver world filled with only the sounds of nature. You may see herds of deer and ravens moving along the cliffs of the lake. It is also possible to see the "fog ice" that forms when fog in the air freezes on the trees. Some of the courses have fewer elevations, making them great for beginners.

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