Lake Akan has become a hot spot for sightseeing thanks to its gorgeous cool and clear waters which births its famous marimo, a type of moss ball. For lovers of nature, this is a must-see spot on Japan’s northern island. In this article we’ll discuss Lake Akan, it’s surrounding areas and where to stay.

Surrounding Lake Akan

The picturesque Lake Akan is located in the area of Kushiro, the most populous area of eastern Hokkaido, on the banks of Akankohan. Birthed from volcanic activity, Lake Akan was created around 6,000 years ago when a dam was formed, and the water needed somewhere to settle. Thanks to the surrounding Mount Meakan and Mount Oakan, the water is pure and clear due to the heat emanating from underground basins.

This volcanic region around Lake Akan gives the body of water two unique properties. The first of which is its clear water that has distinct freezing properties. During the wintertime, the clear water freezes into a pure white, powdery sheet of ice which gives the area a remarkable view. The second property is the lovely hot springs in the area, letting you soak yourself after you’ve soaked in the beauty of the lake.

The best time to visit Lake Akan is during the summer months. While the rest of Japan is usually hot and humid, the cool breeze coming off the lake makes this area the one of the best places in Japan to cool down. During these months you can take a sightseeing boat around the lake and visit the islands inside the lakes.

These islands in Lake Akan are named Ojima, Kojima, Yaitai Island, Churui Island. Many of these islands are beautiful scenic spots that contain natural hot springs and mud baths. Churui Island is the outlier, containing the Marimo exhibition observation center, only accessible by a boat from Akankohan.

The Famous Lake Akan Marimo

The Lake Akan marimo, or moss ball, are some of the most famous on the planet. Due to the way the lake was formed, the clear nature of it and the tides of the lake, the rare marimo is able to be created on the lake’s seabed. There’re only a few places on earth where the marimo are able to be created this way, with the balls in Lake Akan being some of the largest in the world.

The indigenous people of Hokkaido, the Ainu people, celebrate the Lake Akan Marimo with a three-day festival in the city on the shore line. The festival occurs every year on October 8th to the 10th every year. On the evening of the 9th, the general audience can participate in the Torch Procession, through priority is given to the Ainu people for spots in the procession, so getting in early in a must if you want to join in.

Wind Down at a Lake Akan Hotel

While you can explore the region in one full day, you might want to relax by staying in a Lake Akan hotel. Most of the hotels in the main town of Akankohan have onsen and hot springs facilities in the venues, along with great views of Lake Akan.

Hinanoza Lake Akan

Out of all the hotels in the area, Hinanoza Lake Akan one of the best Japanese-style inn experiences. As a resort, Akan Tsuruga Bessou Hinanoza offers up in room open-air hot springs as well as two public hot springs on the 6th and 7th floors. The Ama-no-za and Umi-no-za rooms have breathtaking mountain views, that can be seen from your own private hot spring. If you want to go all out on your visit to Lake Akan, then going to Akan Tsuruga Bessou Hinanoza should be on your list.

Spot information

  • Spot name: Akan Tsuruga Bessou Hinanoza
  • Street address: 2-8-1 Akanko-onsen, Akancho, Kushiro, Hokkaido 085-0467
  • Access: About 2 hours from JR Kushiro Station by public bus, shuttle bus is available from major JR stations and Kushiro Airport