Plants & Animals

Akan-Mashu National Park

Akan-Mashu National Park’s vast forests, lakes and mountains are the foundation of its ecosystems, and home to a variety of flora and fauna.

The mixed forests at the bases of Mount Meakan and Mount Oakan comprise needle-bearing and broad-leaved trees. These include the Sakhalin fir, Yezo spruce, Erman’s birch, katsura and areas of Sakhalin spruce. Rare marimo algae balls grow in Lake Akan, while Labrador tea plants grow in abundance around sulfuric Mount Io (Atosa-Nupuri).

The park’s animals include Japanese deer, brown bears, red foxes, Japanese sable and a host of avian species. Birds such as goldcrests, coal tits, black woodpeckers and great spotted woodpeckers live in the coniferous forests, while large grey herons and various duck species reside around the lakes and reservoirs. In winter, migratory birds such as whooper swans can be seen on Lake Kussharo, and white-tailed eagles can be spotted around lakes and ponds within the park.



Marimo is a species of freshwater green algae found in a number of lakes in Hokkaido and Honshu. The marimo that grow in Lake Akan have been designated a National Special Natural Monument due to their beautiful spherical shape. Lake Akan's round marimo only form under specific ecological conditions, dictated by a precise balance of sunlight, clean water, wind and wave momentum. The largest marimo have been reported to grow up to 30 centimeters in diameter.

Marimo algae

Labrador Tea

Labrador tea (Ledum palustre var. diversipilosum) is a hardy relative of the rhododendron. It is found in Hokkaido and subalpine and alpine areas of Honshu. The plant commonly grows along rock-strewn slopes and wetlands and can thrive in areas with volcanic gases where other plant species cannot. From June to July, Labrador tea blooms in large numbers around Mount Io due to the impact of fumaroles (vents around volcanoes that emit sulfurous gases).

Labrador tea

Meakan Kinbai

Meakan kinbai (Potentilla miyabei Makino) is a rare alpine plant that grows on the sun-facing slopes of Mount Meakan, blooming in August. Endemic to Hokkaido, it was first discovered on Mount Meakan, but thrives in other alpine areas of Akan, Shiretoko and the Dasetsuzan mountain range. Kinbai means "gold plum," in reference to the plant's yellow flowers, which resemble plum blossoms. The Meakan kinbai is an endangered species.

Meakan kinbai


Red Fox

The red fox lives in various parts of Akan-Mashu National Park and is found in other parts of Hokkaido and across the Northern Hemisphere. The red foxes in Hokkaido are typically larger than the foxes that live on Honshu, Japan's main island.

Red fox

Japanese Deer

The forest zones of Akan-Mashu National Park are an important habitat for the Japanese deer. The deer in Hokkaido are some of the largest in Japan; stags can weigh over 200 kilograms in the fall, and antler length can exceed 90 centimeters. For centuries, the indigenous Ainu living in Hokkaido have relied on the animal as a major food source.

Japanese deer

More Plants & Animals