In the western part of Akan-Mashu National Park, Akanko Onsen (阿寒湖温泉) area is Eastern Hokkaido’s classic tourist destination that has picturesque lakes, coniferous forest, volcanic mountains, pleasant onsen and the lakeside Ainu kotan (village).
Lake Type Caldera Lake
Surface Area 13.25 sq-km
Highlights Akan Sightseeing Cruise, Akanko Ainu Theater Ikor
Tourist Information & Bike Rentals Akan-ko Marimukan Tourist Information Center (阿寒湖まりむ館観光インフォメイションセンター): Tel 0154-67-3200 / 1st floor of Marimukan building, 2-6-20 Akanko Onsen-cho / 9am-6pm / en.kushiro-lakeakan.com
The triangle-shaped Akan-ko (阿寒湖: meaning unshakable in Ainu) is best known for its marimo (マリモ: spherical moss) into the lake. Marimo have been preserved from 1921, the north shore is only accessible by sightseeing cruises or special tours.
01 CRUISE & MARIMO VIEWING
Akan Sightseeing Cruise
阿寒湖汽船 / 15 Apr-30 Nov / 85min / ¥1900 / www.akankisen.com
The sightseeing cruise on Akan-ko takes you to the Marimo Exhibition and Observation Center (マリモ展示観察センター) on the tiny island of Churui-to (チュウルイ島) in the north of the lake, passing through the mouth of the waterfall Takiguchi (滝口).
02 MUSEUM & HIKING
Akan Kohan Eco Museum Center
阿寒湖畔エコミュージアムセンター / 1-1-1 Akanko Onsen / 9am-5pm / Closed Tue / FREE / Wi-Fi / business4.plala.or.jp/akan-eco
This eco museum center at the eastern edge of town provide information and advice about Akan-ko area, including high-quality videos, volcanic conditions and marimo in tank. In winter snowshoes and cross-country ski rentals are available (¥500 for two hours, ¥1000 for a day).
From the Eco Museum Center, a short leafy trails lead to the mud volcano pool of Bokke (ボッケ) on the shore.
まりも湯 / 9am-10pm May-Dec, 10am-9pm Jan-Apr / Closed 2nd & 4th Wed Jan-Apr / ¥450
The town’s only sento (bathhouse) is small and inconspicuous, but locals and tourists like this 100% onsen. There is no locker.
04 AINU CULTURE
Akanko Ainu Theater Ikor
イコロ / One to five times a day / Closed New Year’s holiday / ¥1080 per performance / www.akanainu.jp
The worth seeing 30-minute performance demonstrates the koshiki-buyo (Ainu song and dance). From late April to late November, the Iomante Fire Festival is staged at 9pm.
AKANKO ONSEN MAP
Akanko Onsen (simply called ‘Akan-ko’ on bus timetables) bus center is located on Route 240. It has a convenience store (6am-midnight). Most buses are operated by Akan Bus (阿寒バス: www.akanbus.co.jp).
Akan Bus operates regular buses from Kushiro Station stop 15 to Akan-ko (3-4 daily / 1hr 50min), stopping at Kushiro Airport (1hr) and Akan-cho.
There are also intercity buses from Kitami and Asahikawa (via Onneyu and Sounkyo), and seasonal buses to Mashu Station on the JR Senmo Line.