A national park in Kushiro, Hokkaido, Akan Mashu National Park is one of the two oldest national park in Hokkaido. It was established in 1934, and is famous for its beautiful lakes - Lake Akan(阿寒湖), Lake Mashu(摩周湖) and Lake Kussharo(屈斜路湖). Compared to all the other lakes, Lake Mashu is said to be the clearest one, and the second clearest lake in the world. Let’s take a closer look at Lake Mashu!
Area around Lake Mashu
The lake is shaped like a crater, and there are three observation spots to look at the lake. The reason why the lake is shaped like this is due to the collapse of a volcano. It was then filled with water from snow and rain, turning into Lake Mashu. In winter, the lake freezes over and you can walk on top of it.
It is said the first observatory and the third observatory are where you can see the front of the lake, while Uramashu observatory is where you see the back of the lake. There used to be a second observatory, but it is not in use anymore. Viewing the starry night sky at the observatory is also a popular activity for tourists.You can walk from the first observatory to reach the third observatory which is 3km away, or drive there.
The Uramashu Observatory is located on the northeastern side of the lake, you can have a view from the back of the lake, which includes Mount Mashudake and the Kamuisshu Island (カムイシュ島). It is less popular compared to the first and third observatory, but no less pretty.
- Spot name: Lake Mashu First Observatory
- Street address: Teshikaga, Kawakami District, Hokkaido
- Open: 8.00am till 5.00 pm
- Spot name: Uramashu Observatory (裏摩周展望台)
- Street address: Kiyoizumi, Kiyosato, Shari District, Hokkaido
- Access: Drive down Hokkaido Road 150 to reach the northeastern part of Lake Mashu. It is around 37km away from Kiyosato.
Lake Mashu Access
- Spot name: Akan Mashu National Park
- Street address: 1 Chome-1-1 Akancho Akankoonsen, Kushiro, Hokkaido, 085-0467
- Access:From Haneda Airport, fly to Kushiro Airport or Memanbetsu Airport.From Kushiro Airport, take the Akan bus from the airport till you reach the Kushiro station (around 45 minutes). You can try any of these methods of transportation:
The easiest way to travel in Hokkaido is by renting a car at the airport or the town. By car, you can reach the Akan Mashu National Park around 1-2 hours from Kushiro or Abashiri. Simply use the car navigation system or use a map. After visiting Mashu Lake, it’s easy to visit the other lakes nearby if you have a car, which is why we recommend the car.
You can also reach Lake Mashu by taking the train on the JR Senmo Line. There are 5 to 7 trains in a day. It takes around two hours to reach Kawayu Onsen from Kushiro Station or Abashiri.
Book a Taxi
If you don’t want to drive, book a taxi after taking a train ride to Mashu Station. It takes around 20 minutes to drive from Mashu Station to the Lake Observatory.
If you’re travelling around February or July to October, the bus service for tourists can be found around Lake Mashu and Lake Kussharo. They are infrequent, only around 2- 4 times a day.
To reach the park from Memanbetsu Airport, take the bus to Abashiri then switch to the JR Senmo Line train. You can also visit the Shiretoko National Park nearby.