Venture off the beaten path, deep into the island of Hokkaido. Travel between the park’s caldera lakes of Kussharo, Akan and Mashu, explore primeval forests and relax in hot springs. In the long snow season, the landscape transforms into a winter wonderland. Home to settlements of indigenous Ainu people, this national park offers endless cultural discovery. Read more about Akan-Mashu National Park.
Akan-Mashu National Park, like all of Japan's national parks, has no entrance fees, no opening and closing hours, and a permit is not required to enter or stay in the park. The national parks of Japan differ from national parks worldwide in that the land within the national parks is not exclusively designated for national park use and is made up of private property as well as public and protected areas. Visitors are free to enter and leave at any time.
Perhaps the greatest allure of Akan-Mashu National Park is the cherished landscape characterized by three caldera lakes—Kussharo, Akan and Mashu—the beauty of the park's volcanoes, and primitive, primarily subarctic coniferous forests.
Mt. O-akan and Mt. Me-akan rise serenely in the background of Lake Akan and Lake Onneto. The pristine Lake Mashu is famous as one of the world's clearest lakes, and a beautiful view of Lake Kussharo awaits from the surrounding mountains. Kaminoko Pond is steeped in a mystic aura and the ever-changing forest scenery impresses in every season.
Lake Kussharo is Japan's largest caldera lake. In winter, the lake freezes over completely and ice-pressure ridges of over 10 kilometers can form on the surface ice. In local tradition, these ridges are attributed to gods crossing the lake.
Lake Akan is situated on the west side of the Akan caldera and is famous as a habitat for marimo. Visitors can take a trip across the lake in a tour boat, enjoy fishing, and bathe in nearby hot springs.
The Mashu Caldera was formed approximately 7,000 years ago by an enormous volcanic eruption. Inside the caldera is Lake Mashu, which is one of the most transparent lakes in the world. It is known for the thick fogs that frequently occur above the lake's surface, creating a mysterious atmosphere. On the southwestern side of the caldera is Mt. Nishibetsu, a treasure trove of alpine plants.
Mt. Me-akan is located to the southwest of Lake Akan. This volcano remains active to this day. Near the peak, visitors can view the volatile crater and the volcanic gases rising from it.
Located on the southern shore of Lake Akan, Akanko Onsen is lined with large hotels and makes for a good base for a wide range of sightseeing activities. Visitors can see marimo and bokke bubbling mud or take a sightseeing cruise in warmer months. In winter, enjoy skiing in the mountains and skating on the lake.
The largest Ainu settlement in Hokkaido, Ainu Kotan is located in the Akanko Onsen hot spring district. At the Lake Akan Ainu Theater Ikor, visitors can watch a traditional Ainu dance that has been designated an Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO.
In the past, Mt. Iwo was mined for sulfur. The mountain has more than 1,500 vents, both large and small, from which white plumes of gas constantly rise.