Stay Safe in Japan Update: 21/09/2018, 19:14


More Information

Lake Akan In Hokkaido - Great Outdoors In A Magical Winter World

Lake Akan In Hokkaido - Great Outdoors In A Magical Winter World

Hokkaido 2019.03.29 Bookmark

Akan, Hokkaido, is an area with spectacular scenery created by volcanoes, a lake, and the forest. The area is particularly beautiful in winter, offering unique sights and exciting things to do. We introduce the charm of Akan, an area we fell in love with.

Translated by Sandy Lau

Written by MATCHA-PR

Pin reddit

Akan, Hokkaido - Sparkling Snow and Natural Wonders

Be Enchanted by the Wintry Lake Akan! Experience Hokkaido's Grand Nature

Picture courtesy of Akan Tourism Association

Hokkaido, home to magnificent nature, is a popular travel destination for domestic and international visitors. Within Hokkaido, you’ll find vibrant cities like Sapporo and Hakodate, wide open fields, and dramatic mountain ranges with amazing sights unique to the prefecture.

Lake Akan, a breathtakingly beautiful place, is located about one hour by car north of Tancho Kushiro Airport, or one and a half hours from Kushiro.

Be Enchanted by the Wintry Lake Akan! Experience Hokkaido's Grand Nature

Pictures courtesy of SAP Corporation

Lake Akan is located within Akan-Mashu National Park. The coniferous forest surrounding the area has remained untouched and is very much like a primeval forest. Here, you’ll be able to see precious natural monuments such as marimo, spherical green algae that grow in Lake Akan, or tancho, red-crowned cranes seen only in east Hokkaido.

Be Enchanted by the Wintry Lake Akan! Experience Hokkaido's Grand Nature

If you’ll be visiting Lake Akan, we especially recommend visiting during the winter. You’ll find sights and phenomena that are only possible thanks to the extreme cold here!

In this article, we’ll introduce the charms of the Akan area from the perspective of one of MATCHA's editors, who was deeply moved by the wintry Lake Akan!

Full of Surprises! Lake Akan in Winter

Be Enchanted by the Wintry Lake Akan! Experience Hokkaido's Grand Nature

Picture courtesy of SAP Corporation

Ice of at least 60 cm in thickness covers Lake Akan in winter. The temperature from around January to February sometimes reaches below -20℃. It's due to these frigid temperatures that there are so many different activities to enjoy. This environment is a dream come true for those who want to enjoy the snow.

We’ll introduce six winter activities you’ll want to experience at Lake Akan. Each of them is entertaining, being led by organizations very knowledgeable about Akan!

1. Morning Coffee Tour

Be Enchanted by the Wintry Lake Akan! Experience Hokkaido's Grand Nature

Picture courtesy of SAP Corporation

The first thing we recommend is watching the sunrise from the frozen Lake Akan with Mount Oakan towering over the lake from the east. TSURUGA ADVENTURE BASE SIRI, a group that plans and designs activities in Lake Akan, hosts the Morning Coffee Tour where participants can drink their morning coffee before breakfast.

Meet at ADVENTURE BASE SIRI on the first floor of Lake Akan Tsuruga WINGS before the tour. Please inquire directly for meeting times (*1).

*1: The meeting time will depend on when the sun rises at that time of the year.

Be Enchanted by the Wintry Lake Akan! Experience Hokkaido's Grand Nature

Pictures courtesy of SAP Corporation

The mornings in winter are very refreshing. We stood on the frozen surface of Lake Akan with the morning sun dyeing the area in light pinks and oranges as far as the eye could see. Mount Oakan and the light of the morning sun reflecting in the glittering snow was really impressive.

A Must In Hokkaido! Discover Another World In The Wintry Lake Akan

Pictures courtesy of Akan Tourism Association

You can take some really fun pictures at Lake Akan during the winter! Capture images of the frost flowers, which can’t be seen unless there is no wind and it is -15℃, and water throwing, when you splash hot water into the air and it changes into a spray of water vapor in an instant.

You’ll be able to enjoy the wintry Lake Akan as much as you please. The one and a half hour long tour will pass by in a flash.

Be Enchanted by the Wintry Lake Akan! Experience Hokkaido's Grand Nature

Picture courtesy of SAP Corporation

What’s special about this tour is that you get to drink warm beverages on the ice. The staff will pour you a cup of coffee. It’s nice to be able to enjoy a walk over the ice during the early morning while warming up your body.

For details on the Morning Coffee Tour, please check out this webpage.

2. An Invitation to the Mystical Forest

A Must In Hokkaido! Discover Another World In The Wintry Lake Akan

Pictures courtesy of SAP Corporation

Through the Invitation to the Mystical Forest Tour hosted by SIRI, you can learn about and observe the Akan forest. The forest cannot be entered without permission, but entries are specially allowed with the SIRI guided tours. All the necessary equipment will be provided.

During the break, you’ll warm your body with hot drinks prepared by the staff. For details on this tour, which runs around two and a half hours, allowing you to enjoy the forest, check this web page.

3. Bokke Forest Snow Walk

Be Enchanted by the Wintry Lake Akan! Experience Hokkaido's Grand Nature

Picture courtesy of SAP Corporation

Lake Akan and the forest around the lake are situated inside the Akan Caldera (*2). There are areas where hot spring water gushes from the ground creating rare mud volcanoes (called “bokke”).

Through the Bokke Forest Snow Walk hosted by SIRI, participants wear snowshoes and walk through the forest and on the lake. This is a rare and exciting opportunity to walk on top of the lake!

*2 Caldera: a large depression in the ground created by volcanic activity.

Be Enchanted by the Wintry Lake Akan! Experience Hokkaido's Grand Nature

Picture courtesy of SAP Corporation

During the tour, you'll be able to amuse yourself by playing on a snow slide created by nature, fitting yourself into a large hollow of a tree several hundred years old, and walking on the frozen surface of Lake Akan! Please check this web page for details.

Be Enchanted by the Wintry Lake Akan! Experience Hokkaido's Grand Nature

Pictures courtesy of SAP Corporation

At ADVENTURE BASE SIRI, located on the first floor of Lake Akan Tsuruga WINGS, you can ask any questions about the tours. They also lend out equipment to those who have applied for the tours here.

All of the guides have a deep attachment to the region and are very knowledgable about the characteristics of the area. You'll surely have a memorable experience by participating in one of these tours.

For details, please check out SIRI’s website.

4. Akan River Night Tour

Be Enchanted by the Wintry Lake Akan! Experience Hokkaido's Grand Nature

Picture courtesy of SAP Corporation

We also recommend the walking tours through the winter Akan forest at night. It will feel as if you’ve entered another world with small animals and bird tracks, mud volcanoes, the murmurs of the river, and sparkling snow illuminated by the moonlight.

The fascinating side of nature that you can’t find during the daytime will be right before your eyes.

A Must In Hokkaido! Discover Another World In The Wintry Lake Akan

Picture courtesy of SAP Corporation

You can enjoy the Akan forest at night through the Akan River Night Tour hosted by the Akan Nature Center. Enjoy the special experience of walking through the woods at night, stepping on the fluffy snow reflecting the light of the moon, and listening to the guide's insightful explanations about the Akan forest.

Please refer to the Akan Nature Center website (Japanese) for details.

5. Fatbike Tour

Be Enchanted by the Wintry Lake Akan! Experience Hokkaido's Grand Nature

Picture courtesy of SAP Corporation

How about riding a fatbike (an off-road bicycle with oversized tires) for a fun sensation of gliding across the snow in Lake Akan?

The local Guide Shop Imoshiri offers fatbike tours both day and night. During the day tour, you’ll will ride your bike and see Mount Oakan and a hot spring village from the lake.

The night tours, which run starting 21:00 and later, allow you to admire the starry sky stretching above the lake. Tour participants are limited to three people per time slot. Please direct your inquiries to the Kushiro Lake Akan Travel Guide website.

6. Snow Mobile and Four-Wheel Buggy Rides

Be Enchanted by the Wintry Lake Akan! Experience Hokkaido's Grand Nature

Picture courtesy of SAP Corporation

The Ice Land Akan program includes leisure activities on top of the frozen Lake Akan. It is offered for a limited time from January 1 to March 31.

Through this experience, you can immerse yourself in unique Lake Akan activities in the winter. You can try crossing Lake Akan on a snowmobile, four-wheel buggy, or banana boat, and enjoying fishing for wakasagi smelt.

Please direct your inquiries to the Ice Land Akan website (Japanese).

Exciting Lake Akan Cultural Facilities

The Lake Akan area is also complete with facilities such as the Akan International Crane Center and Akan-Kohan Eco-Museum Center where you can learn about the life unique to the area. Continue reading to learn about our recommended cultural facilities!

Akan International Crane Center GRUS - See Red-Crowned Cranes

Be Enchanted by the Wintry Lake Akan! Experience Hokkaido's Grand Nature

Picture courtesy of SAP Corporation

Artificial feeding of red-crowned cranes first succeeded in Lake Akan, resulting in the area becoming their wintering grounds. Red-crowned cranes have existed in Hokkaido since long ago but were at one point in danger of becoming extinct due to lack of food and other factors. They are currently registered as a Japanese natural monument.

The Akan International Crane Center, a facility dedicated to researching the behavior of cranes, works to protect the red-crowned cranes that come to this region for the winter.

In addition to exhibits and videos on cranes, the center has an area where visitors can observe the cranes that come for food. During the winter, many red-crowned cranes gather here. Their elegant posture and their behavior are truly fascinating to watch.

Akan International Crane Center GRUS

View Information
museum

Akan-Kohan Eco-Museum Center - Discover Marimo!

Be Enchanted by the Wintry Lake Akan! Experience Hokkaido's Grand Nature

Picture courtesy of SAP Corporation

Marimo are a type of green algae that only grow in Lake Akan. At the Akan-Kohan Eco-Museum Center, you can see real marimo and learn about their features.

A Must In Hokkaido! Discover Another World In The Wintry Lake Akan

Picture courtesy of SAP Corporation

On the floor of the facility is a giant map of the Akan area seen from above. You’ll feel as if you have an entire view of Akan from the skies when you stand on top of it.

The museum also has other displays of animals and plants that inhabit the Akan area. You’ll be able to make various discoveries on Akan’s natural environment here, so feel free to pay a visit.

Akan-Kohan Eco-Museum Center

View Information
travel_agency

Ainu Village - Learn about Ainu Culture

Be Enchanted by the Wintry Lake Akan! Experience Hokkaido's Grand Nature

The Ainu are an indigenous people of Hokkaido. Long ago, they used to come to the Akan area to hunt.

At present, there is an Ainu Kotan (Ainu village) with up to 36 households in Lake Akan. Here, you’ll find several shops selling beautiful wood carvings and other craft items, and you can also observe how they make these goods.

Be Enchanted by the Wintry Lake Akan! Experience Hokkaido's Grand Nature

Picture courtesy of SAP Corporation

The Lake Akan Ainu Theater Ikor is a facility located in the Aino Kotan that promotes the history and culture of the Ainu people. In particular, the theater strives to educate about Ainu culture through the Ainu Ancient Ceremonial Dance, performances of traditional instrumental music, and other activities that visitors can try firsthand.

Be Enchanted by the Wintry Lake Akan! Experience Hokkaido's Grand Nature

Picture courtesy of SAP Corporation

Be Enchanted by the Wintry Lake Akan! Experience Hokkaido's Grand Nature

Picture courtesy of SAP Corporation

The Lake Akan On-Ice Festival is an annual event where visitors can encounter the Ainu perspective on nature through their fire ritual. The festival also features winter fireworks shown every evening.

The event is held every day for approximately one month from early February. Be sure not to miss out on this festival when going to Lake Akan in the winter!

Lake Akan Ainu Theater Ikor

View Information

Lake Akan’s Seasonal Beauty

Be Enchanted by the Wintry Lake Akan! Experience Hokkaido's Grand Nature

Picture courtesy of Akan Tourism Association

The Lake Akan area boats outstanding beauty through all the four seasons, not only winter. Mount Oakan (1,371 m), one of Akan's most iconic mountains, and Mount Meakan (1,499 m), the mountain that towers over the opposite side of the lake, are popular with hiking enthusiasts.

These mountains have hiking trails with many things visitors can look forward to, including a majestic view from the summit.

Be Enchanted by the Wintry Lake Akan! Experience Hokkaido's Grand Nature

Picture courtesy of Akan Tourism Association

What you’ll be able to see from the summit of Mount Meakan, an active volcano, is an otherworldly sight resulting from the geological features of the volcano. In the summer, you can enjoy several activities including hiking and guided tours.

Be Enchanted by the Wintry Lake Akan! Experience Hokkaido's Grand Nature

Picture courtesy of Akan Tourism Association

The colorful leaves along the Akan River are its greatest charm during the fall. Make sure to take a picture to make it a memory of a lifetime.

If you want to know more about the charms of Akan throughout the year, please visit the Akan Tourism Association on the first floor of the Akanko Marimukan Tourist Information Center at Akanko Onsen. The staff who are all passionate about Akan's great outdoors will kindly assist you in multiple languages.

Access to Lake Akan and Akanko Onsen

Akanko Onsen is about 60 minutes by bus or car from Tancho Kushiro Airport. We recommend taking the convenient Akan Airport Liner that operates in accordance to the arrival and departure flights. For details, please check out this website.

If you wish to go to Kushiro, Kitami, Asahikawa, or Sapporo from Lake Akan, we recommend taking the inter-city express bus. Check this website for the timetable of the express bus.

Head to Lake Akan in Hokkaido!

We suggest a trip to Lake Akan if you want to fully enjoy the snowy scenery. Discover the majestic nature with outdoor activities, walking through the forest, watching the red-crowned cranes, and seeing marimo and frost flowers.

Visitors can also enjoy the hot springs at a hotel on the banks of the lake while gazing out at the magnificent landscape. An unforgettable trip awaits travelers who come to Lake Akan in Hokkaido.

Supported by SAP Corporation

The information presented in this article is based on the time it was written. Note that there may be changes in the merchandise, services, and prices that have occurred after this article was published. Please contact the facility or facilities in this article directly before visiting.

Related topics

Pin reddit