Home > Japan, Travel > Japan Hokkaido Trip 北海道 – Day 6

Japan Hokkaido Trip 北海道 – Day 6

After Breakfast, we proceed to Lake Akan.  Today we will pass by several famous Lakes in Hokkaido, they are Lake Saroma (the largest lake in Hokkaido), Lake Notoro (bathing the coast in a carpet of crimson), Lake Kussharo (largest massive caldera lake) and Lake Akan (the home of Marimo).  We will have lunch in Okhotsk Ryu-hyo Museum at Abashiri.

Bye Bye to Monbetsu. 88 to Hotel Staff and Boss.

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ABASHIRI 纲走

Abashiri city is located in the Northeast part of Hokkaido with a population of about 40k people, not far from Shiretoko and Akan national parks.  The city’s main tourist attractions are its Prison Museum, Okhotsk Ryuhyo Museum and the Drift Ice which can be observed in the Okhotsk Sea during winter time.

Abashiri is a dry city with no tall mountains, but many hills.  Its temperatures in winter often fall below -20 degrees C.

Beautiful Hills along the way

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LAKE SAROMA 佐吕间湖

Lake Saroma with a shoreline of 91 km is the heart of Abashiri Quasi-National Park, is the largest lake in Hokkaido and the third-largest in Japan after Lake Biwa and Lake Kasumigaura.  It is separated from the Sea of  Okhotsk by a 20-km long sandbar which letting sea water into the lake at low tide.  This water mixes with the fresh water from the river, making it a brackish water lake.  The lake is mesotrophic, is known for various kinds of aquaculture (oyster, scallop, smelt, laver and etc).

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Lake Sarome, the Largest lake in Hokkaido

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Lake Saroma View from Bus

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Souvenir Shop at Lake Side – Lake Saroma

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BBQ Scallop

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OKHOTSK RYU-HYO MUSEUM 鄂霍次克流冰馆

Okhotsk Ryu-hyo Museum at Mt. Tento-zan

The Okhotsk Ryu-hyo Museum is located at the top of Mt. Tento-zan 天都山 which is 207m high, in a suburb of Abashiri.  This museum also provides a simulated drift ice experience in a room where the temperature is set at -15° C and the history of sea drift ice (ryu-hyo) that flows into the Sea of Okhotsk from Russia.

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Okhotsk Ryu-hyo Museum 鄂霍次克流冰馆

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We enjoyed a spectacular view of the Sea of Okhotsk and Lake Abashiri and  in 360-degree panorama from the observatory at third, fourth or fifth levels.

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From Mt. Tento-zan – Sea of Okhotsk view

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From Mt. Tento-zan – Lake Abashiri

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From Mt. Tento-zan – Beautiful view

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Today, our lunch is at this beautiful Okhotsk Ryu-hyo Museum while enjoying the beautiful scenery.

Seafood Japanese Lunch

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ABASHIRI PRISON MUSEUM 纲走监狱博物馆

Abashiri Prison is Japan’s first maximum-security prison which was built in 1890, mid-Meiji era, due to its special location.  On the north is the Sea of OkhotskLake Abashiri is on the south and Lake Notori is on the West.  A big river drifted at the foot of the mountain, it is hard for anyone to escape and is easy to keep an eye on prisoners.

The prison was closed in 1984.  Visitor may see during those times prisoners suffering with their daily life with fear, such as cold winters with thin bedding and very little heat and etc.

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LAKE NOTORO 能取湖

Lake Notoro

Lake Notoro, a lagoon is separated from the Sea of Okhotsk by a sandbar located at Abashiri.  It is one of the only places in Japan with glasswort.  The glasswort is green in color throughout most time of the year, but from September to early October the colonies of glasswort growing along the shore change color, bathing the coast in a carpet of crimson.

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MOKOTOYAMA OBSERVATORY

We stop at Mokotoyama Observatory to have a view on Lake Kussharo.

Mokotoyama Observatory

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Lake Kussharo View from Mokotoyama Observatory – Beautiful

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Mokotoyama Observatory Carpark

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Lake Kussharo View from Mokotoyama Observatory

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Life Volcano view from Mokotoyama Observatory

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Lake Kussharo View from the Bus

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LAKE KUSSHARO 屈斜路湖

The Largest Massive Caldera Lake in Akan National Park

  

Lake Kussharo is Japan’s largest massive caldera lake in Akan National Park, eastern Hokkaido, covering nearly 80 km2, is 117.5m deep.  It is the largest lake in Japan to freeze over completely during winter.  In the center of the lake lies Japan’s largest lake island, with an area of 5.7 km2 and a circumference of 12 km.  The blue of the waters of the lake is distinctively beautiful.

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Lake Kussharo

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Numerous hot springs can be found around the perimeter of the lake, and sunayu or “sand baths”, wherein warm water rises to the surface of holes dug into the lake shore, have become a must-see tourist attraction.  Moreover, the lake has become famous for “Kusshie”, the gigantic, mysterious and unidentified creature thought to lurk in its waters, and Japan’s own version of the Loch Ness Monster.

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Enjoy Free Hot Spring at the Lake side

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Activity at Lake Kussharo

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LAKE AKAN 阿寒湖

Lake Akan


Lake Akan is a beautiful crater lake in Akan National Park.  This volcanic lake has a circumference of 261 km, is 420m above sea level, and is 44.8m deep at its deepest point.  There are 47 islands in the lake, including Oshima, Kojima, Yaitai and Churui, whose scenery has a different, unique beauty every season.

Lake Akan – Special Sky View

The lakeside hot spring resort of Akan kohan is the only town around the lake.  It has several ryokan, some of which have hot spring baths with views of the lake on their upper floors.  Several hotels open their baths to non-guests during the day for typically 500 to 1500 yen.

Lake Akan Hot Spring Hotels

Sight seeing boats leave Akan kohan for 1-hour cruises of the lake, which include a stop at the Marimo Exhibition Center on one of the lake’s islands and a ride into the more remote sections of the lake.

Lake Akan – Sight Seeing Boats

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MARIMO 毬藻

Lake Akan is home to Marimo, a rare green algae species that forms itself into beautiful green balls.  Left alone for a few centuries, Lake Akan’s marimo can reach the size of soccer balls.  The algae have been designated a National Special Natural Monument.

Marimo

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ABORIGINES – AINU

The Ainu are people with cultural and racial background which is very different from that of the ethnic Japanese.  They have been populating Hokkaido, northern Tohoku, the Kurile Islands and Sakhalin, but today only a small population remains mainly in Hokkaido.

Ainu dress in the traditional Ainu clothes

In the Meiji Period (1868-1912), the Ainu received the status of “former aboriginals“, but suffered under official discrimination for some years.  In 1997, a new law was passed which provides funds for the research and promotion of Ainu culture.

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AINU KOTAN

Street Lined by Souvenir Shops Specializing in Ainu Handicrafts


Ainu Kotan is a small Ainu village in Akan kohan, which is basically a street lined by souvenirs shops specializing in Ainu handicrafts.  Ainu folk art mainly centers on wood carvings, with numerous items available such as knick-knacks and beautiful jewelry with animal and bird motifs and the traditional Ainu Jew’s harp, known asmukkuri“.

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Beautiful Ainu Handicrafts and Marimo Soft Toys

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Ainu Folk Art mainly on Wood Carving

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Ainu Folk Art mainly on Wood Carvings

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Street Lined by Souvenir Shops Specializing in Ainu Handicrafts

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God of Wealth

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AINU MEMORIAL MUSEUM

At the end of the street there is an Ainu Memorial Museum displaying traditional Ainu crafts, clothes and daily life utensils.  Traditional Ainu performances are held in a hall next door.   Visitors can watch ancient Ainu dance and listen to performances of the traditional Ainu Jew’s harp.

Ainu Memorial Museum

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Traditional Ainu Performance Tickets

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Traditional Ainu performance plus 2 of Us

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This Thatched House Used as Storage for Food Items.

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HOTEL

We have always forgotten to snap some photos of the Hotel.

Our Room is Facing Lake Akan with beautiful view of the lake

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Futon were Laid by the Hotel Staff during our Dinner time

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DINNER IN HOTEL

Japanese Dinner

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Sashimi

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FIRE FESTIVAL OF IYOMANTE

Fire Festival of Iyomante or Bear Worshipping Festival are gathering around a bonfire, traditional Ainu dances will be performed, transporting guests to the ancient times of the Ainu.

Bear Worshipping Festival

In addition to this, the normal ancient Ainu dance performances are changed in the fall and held at the open-air site, adding to the full impact of the Iomante Fire Festival.

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Ainu Guide will use this Canoe for the Fire Festival of Iyomante.

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We Joined the Fire Festival of Iyomante

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The Walk Started from Lake Akan

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This is the Guide

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Walked to Ainu Memorial Museum with Our Team

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Bear Worshipping Ceremony

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Ainu People with Traditional Clothes

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Link: Hokkaido Trip Day 1

Link: Hokkaido Trip Day 2

Link: Hokkaido Trip Day 3

Link: Hokkaido Trip Day 4

Link: Hokkaido Trip Day 5

Link: Hokkaido Trip Day 7

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  1. Anonymous
    August 8, 2011 at 12:30 PM

    Beautiful lake scenery and should be a wonderful place to visit.

  2. Jeab
    August 12, 2011 at 11:40 PM

    Love it man!. Nice photos and make me scream… I Wanna GO O o o ๐ ๐ . . . .

  3. Boston Chuan
    September 25, 2013 at 8:49 AM

    Hello, I came about your blog, I’m very keen to know which month you have visited Hokkaido.
    I’m in the midst of planning for my free&easy trip there next year🙂
    Appreciate for your reply🙂

  4. Boston Chuan
    September 25, 2013 at 9:14 AM

    Hi, I was so happened to come across your blog about the Hokkaido trip.
    May I know which month you have went for the trip?
    I’m planning for my free&easy trip there next year and wish to find out which month is the best to visit the place.
    Your reply is highly appreciated🙂
    Thank you!

    • September 28, 2013 at 10:00 PM

      Hi, thanks for visiting our blog. We went Hokkaido in end Jun, nice weather at about 15~25. Have a great trip ahead. Cheers.

  5. Anonymous
    June 29, 2014 at 2:50 AM

    Hi ccyee, since you have been to both Okhotsk Ryu-hyo Museum @ Abashiri and Okhotsk Drift Ice Centre @ Mombetsu, which will you recommend to visit if we have time for only 1? I presume both facilities are similar but perhaps one is better than the other in terms of things to see and do?

  6. Anonymous
    June 29, 2014 at 2:53 AM

    Hi ccyee, since you have been to both Okhotsk Ryu-hyo Museum @ Abashiri and the Okhotsk Drift Ice Centre @ Mombetsu, which one will you recommend to visit if we only have time for 1? I presume both facilities are similar but perhaps one is better in terms of things to see and do?

  7. chen
    June 29, 2014 at 2:54 AM

    Hi ccyee, since you have been to both Okhotsk Ryu-hyo Museum @ Abashiri and the Okhotsk Drift Ice Centre @ Mombetsu, which one will you recommend to visit if we only have time for 1? I presume both facilities are similar but perhaps one is better in terms of things to see and do?

    • July 2, 2014 at 3:20 PM

      Sorry for the late reply. :p
      We like Okhotsk Drift Ice Centre @ Mombetsu. Hope you have a wonderful trip ahead. Cheers

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