Breathe the Warm Summer Air in the Wilds of Hokkaido
In the summer, Hokkaido is a rugged playground for hikers, walkers and anyone with a love of the great outdoors. Explore primeval forests, cycle around caldera rims with views of beautiful crater lakes and gain a deeper appreciation for Indigenous tradition and culture. Make Hokkaido your summer adventure destination of choice.
Our journey begins in Shiretoko, a two hour drive from Hokkaido’s Memanbetsu Airport, which is a 100 minute flight from Haneda.
- 1Shiretoko Peninsula
- 2Shiretoko Five Lakes
- 3Lake Mashu
- 4Kushiro Marsh
- 5Mt. Meakan
- 6Akan Ainu Kotan
Into the Open
Spend your first day experiencing the wilderness of the Shiretoko Peninsula—home to abundant wildlife in the ocean, land and sky—by foot and from the water. Board a sightseeing boat and dramatic rock formations and waterfalls that are only accessible from the ocean. After disembarking, explore Shiretoko with an experienced nature guide to gain a deeper understanding of this area of natural beauty. The area was designated a World Heritage Natural Site due to its standing as “one of the richest integrated ecosystems in the world,” as judged by UNESCO.
Around the Lakes
Continue your exploration of Shiretoko's pristine natural environment with a trip to Shiretoko Five Lakes. Highlights here include views of the Shiretoko mountain range reflected in the clear lake waters (weather permitting) and exploration of the dense virgin forests that surround the lakes. Your guide can offer fascinating insight into this natural landscape and the wildlife that inhabits it; look out for bear claw marks or the foot and hoof prints of the forest's two- and four-legged residents. Switch to two-wheeled transportation and cycle to Kamuiwakka Waterfall, where hot natural spring water gushes from an active volcano.
The Colors of Water
On day three, enjoy downhill mountain biking around the rim of Lake Mashu, a caldera lake. Begin at the Uramashu Observatory and cruise down the sloping paths while taking in the lake’s beauty. Lake Mashu is one of several large caldera lakes in Akan-Mashu National Park. Mashu stands apart from the others in terms of water transparency—it is the clearest lake in Japan, and the water color has been given its own name: Mashu blue. The tour also includes the mystical Kaminoko-ike Pond, a small body of water fed by Lake Mashu and colored a striking cobalt blue.Rest your legs and relax at night with delicious fresh seafood and a hot springs bath.
Day four begins on the water with a canoeing adventure on Kushiro-shitsugen—the vast marshlands and national park about 50 km south of Lake Mashu. This is not an area of swift currents and white water. Instead, the gentle flowing lazy river offers an opportunity for slow life adventure in beautiful surroundings. Expect shifts in the scenery as you paddle along the waterways; as you move, the geography switches from gentle riverbanks to steep cliff walls. Keep an eye out for some of the local wildlife, including red-crowned cranes and kingfishers.
Gazing into the Volcano
Ramp up the pace on day five with a trek to the summit of Mt. Meakan. Mt. Meakan is a highly active volcano that forms part of a larger volcanic group spreading across Akan-Mashu National Park. From June, the snow begins to melt, and the slopes come alive with colorful alpine flora. Once you reach the peak, expect panoramic views of smoky volcanoes and vast caldera lakes. Meakan Onsen is at the trailhead, and Lake Onneto marks the end of the trek. At night, spend a well-earned rest at the Onneto Campground where the crystal-clear Hokkkaido skies provide the perfect backdrop for stargazing. Note that the trek is challenging and best suited for advanced hikers.
On the final day, head to the Akan Ainu Kotan to discover the culture and traditions of the Ainu—the Indigenous people of Japan’s northern reaches. The Ainu have a deep and profound respect for nature, a belief you may begin to share after your time spent in the Hokkaido wilderness. Many Ainu cultural practices are centered around kamuy, the spirits of the natural world. While at the Akan Ainu Kotan, ask the Ainu-language name and the role within the spiritual realm of the mountains and wildlife that you encountered during your trip. Take an English-language tour of the facility to discover more about the fascinating culture and its relationship to the landscape you have explored.
Hokkaido has a global reputation as a winter activity hub, but the summer also provides plenty of opportunities for action-packed enjoyment. From hiking, trekking and cycling among vast plains and sprawling mountain ranges, to canoeing and cruising on winding rivers and vast oceans, Hokkaido should be your summer adventure destination of choice.
The contents of this page are meant as an example to use in creating your travel plans and do not represent a package tour. Lodgings, travel, guides, and all other accommodations must be arranged for by the traveler.