Marimo Festival まりも祭り

Marimo Festival
Marimo Festival

An unusual traditional festival honoring the quirky marimo algae of Lake Akan

Initially 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.

How to Get There

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, Akanko Onsengai.

There are bus services from Kushiro Station and Kushiro Airport. From the station, take a bus to Akanko Hotori Bus Stop. Akanko Onsengai is a five-minute walk.

Quick Facts

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

Dances and parades led by Ainu priests

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.

The mysterious marimo

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 visit.

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