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Akan National Park - Akan, Onneto [E]
 
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tinou
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PostYou have posted in this forum: Wed Jun 20, 2007 10:44 am Back to top

As to follow on Sanji's post, I would like to recommend some good hiking opportunities in the Akan National Park Area.

Meakan-Dake

This hike is accessible from Akan-kohan or from Lake Onneto and Meakan Youth Hostel. You could for example start from the Meakan-onsen. This onsen is accessible by bus from Akan-Kohan only between July 1st and August 31st, that's why Sanji is so right when he said a car is your best asset to visit the park. You can even have an earlier start by staying at the nearby Youth Hostel.

However it is strongly recommended you double-check with the Tourist Information Center about the volcano conditions. Meakan-dake is an active volcano and emissions of sulphur fumes are common on the rim and its vicinity. You can actually hear it from the bottom of the track. These fumes are toxic and if inhaled in high quantity you could feel dizzy, so be careful.

The first part of the hike is a gentle climb through a forest of red pines. It then get steeper but the views are getting better as you pass through the brush dwarf pines. Between the 4th and the 6th stations, Lake Onneto is particularly visible.



From the top of the moutain, you can see up to Daisetsu-zan National Park to the West, and Akan National Park to the East (including Akan-ko, Mashuu-dake, Oakan-dake and even Shari-dake).





From here you have mainly two options:

- Hiking down to Onneto Lake via the path leading to the saddle between Akan-Fuji and Meakan-dake. This is the best option if your time is short or if you're tired from the ascent (or if you stayed at the Youth Hostel and want your belongings back!). Besides you can enjoy more views on Lake Onneto.

- Hiking back directly to Akan-kohan by taking the Shiroyu-yama Shizen Satsuro track, passing through a desolated volcanic landscape. If you choose this option be aware that this is quite a long way back to Akan-kohan, and after the fun of walking on the moon-like caldera, the trail goes through a thick forest of Sakhalin fir for a couple more hours and after that it's 5 more kilometers on a 4-wheel track. However this is an unique experience of walking on a volcanic area, one of the very few places on Earth where you can enjoy it as a simple hiker (just like the Tongariro Crossing in New Zealand).

Either way you should include the ascencion of Akan-Fuji as a side trip, which takes roughly an hour there and back from the saddle. It is a steep climb but the views are worth it as you can see the whole caldera from a different perspective.



Meakan-dake offers great views and a fantastic opportunity to approach an active volcano. In Hokkaido only Asahi-dake in the Daisetsu-zan National Park offers the same kind of experience, but it's a steeper and longer climb than Meakan-dake, especially if you don't rely on the lift at Asahi-dake onsen or approach it from the North via Kuro-dake.

Tomorrow I'll talk about the male counterpart of Meakan-dake: Oakan-dake.

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tinou
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PostYou have posted in this forum: Thu Jun 21, 2007 3:02 pm Back to top

Oakan-dake

As Meakan-dake is an active volcano, the path leading to the summit might be closed if the sulphur fumes are too strong. An alternative day hike is Oakan-dake which is also a volcano, but a dormant one.

The single peak of Oakan-dake (Pinneshiri in Ainou) means it's a male mountain, while Meakan-dake is its female counterpart.

Access: easy access from Akan-kohan using a 10 minutes bus ride from the Akan Bus Terminal. If you want an early departure then you can walk to the trail entrance, about 35 minutes north of Akan-kohan.



The hike: you need roughly 5 hours to make it up there and back down to the trail entrance. it starts from the shore of Lake Akan and first passes through brush forest and soon you'll come accross Lake Jiro and Lake Taro. It's wise to bring a bear bell or to make noise while hiking as the risk of bumping into a bear is a real one especially around these fishy two small lakes.

It is then an ascent through the forest until the 3rd station. The path then becomes extremely steep, especially between the 4th and 5th station. If rains is likely to fall, it might be wise to turn back as the path down would turn really slippery.

The track is divided into 10 stations, but you can consider you cleared 80% of it as you reach the 5th station. From the 5th station to the summit, it's a gentle ascent through a forest of dwarf pines. The views get really better, and you can see Meakan-dake, Lake Akan and even until Daisetsu-zan National Park on a clear day to the East, and several small caldera lakes (Lake Panketo and Lake Penketo) to the West. Shari-dake and Mashu-dake may also be visible from the top of the mountain.





Once you're on the summit, the only way back is via the same track you followed to come here. It's a bit longer ascent than the Meakan-dake and the views are somewhat less spectacular. However, if Meakan-dake is closed, this is still a rewarding experience of hiking Akan National Park.

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PostYou have posted in this forum: Wed Apr 15, 2009 2:21 pm Back to top

The Akan National Park (阿寒公立公園, Akan kokuritsu kōen) is a volcanic area covered with forests, with several volcanic peaks and craters. It is located in the eastern region of Hokkaido, an area called Dōtō (道東).

Three caldera lakes are also found there: Lake Akan, famous for its marimo algae balls, Lake Kussharo, a resort area with many onsen on its shore and Lake Mashu, a foggy and mysterious crater lake said to be the home of Ainu’s gods. This large park - more than 900 square kilometers - attracts between 6 and 7 millions visitors every year, mostly during the summer period.

To enjoy the park, you will need to overnight in it at least 2 nights - and this will only give you a short overview of the area. Visitors usually stays on the shore of Lake Akan, in Akan Kohan, on the shore of Kussharo-ko or in Kawayu Onsen.


source : JNTO - click here for a printable version








water

Lake Onneto



water

Lake Akan



hotsprings

onsen Onneto yu no taki



A GREEN

Ainu-village



ferry

Lake Akan ferry



M GREY

Meakan-Dake



A GREY

Akanfuji



O GREY

Oakan-dake








Access

By car
Strongly recommended, a car will allow you to reach most of the interesting spots in the Akan National Park. From 2-3 persons, it probably will also be the cheapest way to visit the area. Also, a car gives you more flexibility to adapt your visit to the weather (it is not worth to go to Lake Mashu on a foggy day, but you might prefer to visit an onsen rather). Driving is fairly easy in Hokkaido. Note that there can be a lot of snow in winter, and that distances can be quite important (that is, outside the park).

By train
Only one line, JR Kushiro Line, is crossing through the Akan National Park, linking Kushiro (south) to Abashiri (north). In the park, trains stop at Kawayu Onsen, between Lake Kussharo and Lake Mashu. Kawayu Onsen is a good base for visiting the park, but trains are very infrequent. From Kushiro, it takes 96 minutes (1600 yens, 4 trains per day). From Abashiri, it takes 106 minutes (1790 yens, 6 trains per day).

By bus
Akan Bus provides infrequent scheduled bus service between Kushiro and Lake Akan (4-5 buses/day) and between Lake Akan, Kawayu and Abashiri via Lake Mashu (2-4 buses/day).

You can find the time table of the buses between :


There is also a bus making a sightseeing tour between Akan Onsen - Lake Mashu - Kawayu Onsen - Iosan mountain - Memanbetsu Airport - Utoro - Shiretoko Five Lakes, with enough short stops to visit a little of each place. This can be a very interesting way to travel if you are in hurry and do not want to drive... It is probably the best option if you do not have a car.

Alternatively, some hotels provide free transportation from the surrounding cities for their guests! This seems to be the case for the following hotels:
  • in Lake Akan Onsen : New Akan Hotel & Akan View Hotel (from JR Kushiro Station and from JR Obihiro Station)
  • in Kawayu : Misono Hotel (from JR Kushiro Station)

Reservation is required, check this page for details and contact the hotel directly.





The park has two major areas. The south-west one, including Lake Akan and smaller Lake Onneto, and the the north-east one, with Lake Kussharo and Lake Mashu, as well as the onsen town of Kawayu. To travel from one area to the other, you will need to go out of the park through the town of Teshikaga (also called Mashu Onsen).

A typical journey in the park could be the following:
  • start from Akan Kohan town in the western area, go to Onneto Lake (and if possible to Onneto Onsen);
  • return to Akan Kohan on Lake Akan;
  • go through Teshikaga to the two view points on Mashu-ko;
  • go down to Io-zan mountain and Kawayu Onsen;
  • finish on the shore of Kussharo-ko.

This route is more or less followed by the Akan Bus Panorama, so accessible even to those without car.





Onneto Lake (オンネトー, from Ainu word for “old lake”)

Access: reached in about 20-30 minutes by car from Akan Lake. If you don’t have a car, it is perhaps best to skip this part of the trip: there seems to be only 1 bus per day going to Onneto Lake.

In untouched surroundings, this beautiful lake is said to change color with the seasons and the weather, and is called "Goshiki-numa" - five-color pond - by local people. There is a walking path leading visitors to the best viewpoints of the lake, with beautiful views on active volcano Me-Akan-dake (1499 m, Female Mountain). This volcano is famous among hikers, but might be closed for safety reason (sulfur fumes). It is also the highest peak in the park. Onneto lake is really worth a stop.

Image 140   Image 1267   Image 1265   Image 1266



From there, you can walk to the onsen Onneto yu no taki (オンネトー湯の滝), which is reached by following a nice 1.6 km trail in the forest, leading to a waterfall where a small bath has been built. This onsen is just under the waterfall (in fact, the fall is more like water running down along steep rocks: but since that water is hot, the sight is quite impressive); there is a small changing area next to the bath. Bathing is mixed here, but many wear swimming costume, especially when the bath is crowded (which can happen often in summer). Climb to the top of the waterfall, there is a beautiful view on both the onsen and the forest. This onsen is very unique as it contains large amount of manganese oxide, formed by microorganisms present in the water.


Akan Kohan (阿寒湖半) and Lake Akan (阿寒湖, Akan-ko)

Image 1264On the south shore of Lake Akan, this town is not really charming. There are big, concrete hotels along the shore and relatively few attractions. It is still a good base to visit the west part of the National Park. Walking along the shore is recommended, especially in early morning. If you walk from the town to the east, you will reach the Akankohan Eco Museum Center at the end of a town and an onsen for feet only. Continue to walk along the shore, there is a nice 30-minute path crossing through a primeval forest of pines, from where you will be able to get nice views on the lake and the town, and see some bubbling mud, bokke (ボッケ), formed because of the volcanic activity of the area.

Ainu-village (アイヌコタン): a small folk village, located inside Akan village, where visitors will find mostly wood carved souvenirs and local artifacts. Can be worth a stop, although mostly aimed at selling omiyage. See this page for details.



Image 1268Akan Lake is famous for the marimo algae (毬藻), also called Cladophora ball, Lake ball or Moss ball. Although this green algae is found in many lakes of the northern hemisphere, only in Lake Akan do such balls reach up to 30 cm of diameter, displaying a characteristic velvet color. See this Wikipedia article for more details. Marimo are strictly protected now, but you can see some of them in the Akankohan Eco Museum Center (phone 0154-67-2785, open from 9:00 to 17:00 or 19:00 in July/August, free entrance), located at the east end of the village.

Finally, a cruise on the lake is a must-do (from end of April to middle of November). Note that the lake is frozen a large part of the year, usually until May!

For more information on Lake Akan and the surroundings: Akan-ko Onsen Tourist Association, phone 0154-67-2254, open from 9:00 to 18:00.




Arrow Check the part 2 - Mashu, Kawayu Onsen for the second part of the trip...


Last edited by sanji on Wed Apr 15, 2009 2:21 pm; edited 6 times in total

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