Akan National Park
Volcano-born caldera lakes interwoven with forests – an unforgettable scene
Akan National Park is located in the central portion of Eastern Hokkaido, spanning one city and nine townships with a total area exceeding 90,000 hectares. This park is particularly notable for its calderas (depressions formed due to volcanic activity). The activity of the Chishima Volcanic Zone created three lakes: Lake Akan, Lake Kussharo, and Lake Mashu. Each of these tranquil lakes has a unique character. The surrounds include forests nicknamed “wild bird paradise” which are home to about 150 bird species, active volcanic mountains which still vent smoke, and hot springs created by the very same volcanoes. This magnificent scenery of this land instills a sense of respect for the workings and wonders of nature in all who visit.
Lake Akan lies within the Akan Caldera. The magnificent scenery here includes volcanic mountains such as Mt. Oakan and Akan National Park’s highest peak of Mt. Meakan, the beautiful lake surface and surrounding marshes, and virgin forests of Yezo spruce and Sakhalin fir. Among these truly striking surroundings, the lake is even more famous for spherical aquatic plants known as marimo, which have been designated as a Special Natural Monument of Japan. Visitors can learn more about the wondrous marimo at the Marimo Exhibition and Observation Center on Churui Island within Lake Akan.Lake Kussharo, Japan’s largest caldera lake, lies within the Kussharo Caldera. Geothermal heat keeps Lake Kussharo warm even in winter, creating a natural wintering environment for the whooper swan. However, in the deep cold of February, the lake surface freezes over, creating remarkable ice formations known as omiwatari. Another eye-catching sight is Mt. Io, which translates to “Mt. Sulfur”. This mountain is also known as Mt. Atosanupuri in Ainu, which translates to “Naked Mountain”. Clouds of smoke billow forth from this active volcano, creating an unforgettable sight which perfectly illustrates the beauty of nature’s raw power. The Kawayu area at the foot of Mt. Io contains a one-in-the-world large colony of Ledum hypoleucum flowers, normally best viewed around late June to early July.Lake Mashu, best known as the world’s clearest lake, lies within the Mashu Caldera. Strikingly pure, deep blue waters fill the caldera almost to the brim, creating an absolutely breathtaking sight. You’ll want to visit each of the observation decks (Daiichi Deck, Daisan Deck, Ura Mashu Deck) to fully appreciate the beauty of Lake Mashu. Before going sightseeing, stop by the Eco Museum Centers to learn about Akan National Park’s natural environment and find out the best places to see. The Akan Kohan Eco Museum Center specializes on the western region of Akan National Park, centered on Lake Akan. The Kawayu Eco Museum Center specializes in the Kussharo Caldera. Both are excellent places to learn something new and pick up useful information.
Have you ever heard of “bokke”? In Ainu, it means “come to a boil”, and by extension refers to mud volcanoes. You can find one just 500 meters from the Akan Kohan Eco Museum Center. This is a unique chance to feel the “breathing” of a volcano. Around here, conifers such as Yezo spruce and Sakhalin fir intermingle with broadleafs such as lobed elm and Japanese rowan, forming vast forests which serve as habitats to a wide variety of wildlife. The sightseeing road “Mizuumi no Komichi” (“Lake Path”) also makes for a beautiful stroll.
Daisetsuzan National Park
Daisetsuzan National Park is Japan’s largest national park, with an area approximately equal to that of the entire prefecture of Kanagawa. Fields of alpine flowers come into bloom during the fleeting summer, and swiftly-arriving autumn covers the mountains in bright crimson. Countless animals make their habitats here.
Kushiro Shitsugen National Park
Kushiro Shitsugen National Park is home to Japan’s first Wetlands of International Importance designated under the Ramsar Convention. This region is a habitat to remarkable species such as the red-crested crane, a Special Natural Monument of Japan, and the Siberian salamander, said to be “survivors of the ice age”. Let’s visit the homes of this wonderful wildlife.
Shiretoko National Park
Shiretoko National Park is a World Natural Heritage Site. Visit a land untouched by human hands – encounter a world of wild animals and enchanting beauty.