Time Required: 5 h 40 min. Distance: 12.4 km
Passing by Lake Taro and Lake Jiro at the foot of Mt. O-akan, this course takes you through a dense belt of conifers, and from Mt. O-akan’s fifth station, you will walk a ridge that cuts through an area of dwarf stone pines. The only route for climbing the mountain is a very long one, so compared to Mt. Me-akan, Mt. O-akan is more suited for experienced climbers. At the top, however, you will be rewarded with a grand vista looking over Mt. Me-akan, Lake Penketo, and Lake Panketo as well as a view reaching as far as Lake Kussharo, Mt. Sharidake, and the Shiretoko Mountain Range.
Takiguchi, where the trailhead is located, is near the headwaters of the Akan River that flows from Lake Akan. This spot is famous for its rhododendrons (Rhododendron dauricum and Rhododendron brachycarpum) and autumn foliage. After starting down the trailhead and advancing for about ten minutes, you will come to Lake Taro where you can see schools of large carp. Go on for another ten minutes to find the placid Lake Jiro, which has no rivers flowing into or out of it.
The hardest part of the trail runs just below Mt. O-akan’s fifth station, but if you push through, the steep slope suddenly levels off into a wide-open area. Here, from the fifth station, you will have a fantastic view of the high mountain scenery carpeted mostly by dwarf stone pines, but you can also see other fauna including keyflowers (Dactylorhiza aristata), Weigela middendorffiana, and Ledum palustre ssp. diversipilosum. Continuing on, the trail is gentler and spotted with outlooks of Lake Akan and Mt. Me-akan, with the seventh station having an especially excellent view. Push on just a little further to reach the summit.
On the east side of Lake Akan, Mt. O-akan (1,370 meters) means “the male mountain,” or Pinneshiri, in the Ainu language. From the summit, you can look down on Lake Akan, Lake Penketo, and Lake Panketo, and catch a glimpse of Lake Kussharo through gaps in the surrounding forest. You can even see Mt. Sharidake and the Shiretoko Mountain Range off in the distance. From this spot, you get a true sense of the forests, lakes, and volcanoes that embody the magnificent nature of the Akan-Mashu National Park.