Learn about History and Conservation in Hokkaido’s Mystical Forest

Take a walking tour through a serene, lakeside forest in a national park

In Japan’s northernmost prefecture of Hokkaido rests Akan Mashu National Park, which is rich in lakes and rivers. This ecologically fascinating caldera zone is home to abundant life, including mammals, such as Yezo sika deer, brown bears, and red foxes, as well as birds and insect species―not to mention multiple volcanoes and the Ainu indigenous group. The “Mystical Forest (Hikari no Mori)” is located within the Akan Mashu National Park and near Lake Akan, which also features a hot spring.

During your guided walk through the Mystical Forest offered by Tsuruga Adventure Base “Siri,” you can go to places in the forest you are allowed to enter only when accompanied by a certified guide, and your guide will teach you about the history of the Lake Akan hot springs (Lake Akan Onsen) as well as about conservation efforts dedicated to protecting this natural wonder. Japanese Judas trees, which are said to be over 800 years old, tower amid the plants distributed in this area. Also, if you are lucky, you can look out and catch sight of the diverse animals that call the forest home, such as owls, eagles, deer, bears, flying squirrels, sables, and red foxes.

This activity is not to miss for any nature lovers or explorers at heart. When you are done, soak in the local hot springs or explore the indigenous Ainu culture, all conveniently located near Lake Akan.

Access: From Haneda Airport, go to Kushiro Airport, about 2 hours. Then drive for about 1 hour to the Tsuruga Adventure Base meeting point.

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