Festivals & Events
Originally conceived in 1950 to inspire people to help save the endangered marimo algae of Lake Akan, the Marimo Festival and 1,000-torch parade continue to enthrall visitors every autumn. It's a rare chance to witness the customs of the indigenous Ainu people and hear their folk songs.
Lake Akan is 60 kilometers from Kushiro Airport. It can be accessed by car or by bus from Kushiro Station. The festival is held along the main street, Akan-ko Onsen-gai.
There are bus services from Kushiro Station and Kushiro Airport. From the station, take a bus to Akan-ko Hotori Bus Stop. Akan-ko Onsen-gai is a five minute walk.
Marimo are green balls of algae with a velvety appearance that resemble moss balls
It takes 100 years for marimo to grow to their full size
Marimo in Lake Akan are by far the largest in the world, growing to a diameter of 30 centimeters
Volcanic activity formed Lake Akan 6,000 years ago
After you witness the solemn blessing of the marimo by Ainu priests, things become livelier with the start of the 1,000-torch parade and the impressive display of traditional dances by Ainu communities from all over Hokkaido. Follow the festivities with a hot spring bath under the stars at one of Lake Akan's luxurious ryokan.
Even if you can't make it to Lake Akan in October, you can still take a pleasant cruise to see marimo at the Marimo Exhibition and Observation Center on an island in the middle of the lake. Further afield, Akan-Mashu National Park has an abundance of beautiful spots and wonderful wildlife, well worth a day or two of your time.