Land area: 90,481 ha
Designated on December 4, 1934
A range of volcanoes and surrounding natural forests compose picturesque scenery. Beautiful lakes rest at the base of volcanoes that are still fuming. Akan National Park enjoys beautiful landscapes full of variety. While rare kinds of mammals and birds live in the forests, there are fascinating alpine plants, some of which have "Akan" in their names, growing in clumps on high mountains.
Akan National Park is a scenic park located in eastern Hokkaido which includes three calderas, Akan, Kussharo and Mashu. As some of the volcanoes in the park are active, there are many spots where hot water gushes out as hot springs. Along with its natural beauty, this is another reason of the park's high popularity.
Akan caldera is composed of mountains including Mt. O-Akandake (1,371 m) and Mt. Me-Akandake (1,499 m), lakes including Lake Akanko, Lake Penketo and Lake Panketo and thick forests surrounding them.
Kussharo caldera is a world-class caldera with a 26 km major axis and 20 km minor axis. It contains Lake Kussharoko, from the south-eastern part of which flows the Kushirogawa River, one of the most famous rivers in Hokkaido.
Mashu caldera is a smaller caldera with a 7.5 km major axis and 5 km minor axis. Lake Mashuko, a crater lake in the caldera, is known as one of the most transparent lakes in the world. It is very popular among Japanese tourists because of its mysterious beauty. The lake is as deep as 212 m and there is no river flowing into or out of it.
The vegetation in this area includes both coniferous and broad-leaved trees and the park is famous for its beautiful scenery of mixed forests. The primeval forest of coniferous trees extending from Lake Akanko, and the forests of broad-leaved deciduous trees by Lake Kussharoko and on the somma of Lake Mashuko are especially beautiful.
On the mountains, communities of alpine plants can be seen. They include many rare species which have the word "Akan" in their names such as meakankinbai (Potentilla miyabei). Another noteworthy plant is marimo (Cladophora aegagropila) which grow in Lake Akanko. It is a kind of alga grown in fresh water and those seen in Lake Akanko have a unique character of forming beautiful spheres. As marimo growing in other areas do not form spheres, those in Lake Akanko are very famous for their rareness. Visitors can see them in the Marimo Exhibition & Observation Center on an island in the lake.
The park is the habitat of mammals such as brown bears and chipmunks, and many rare birds such as endangered black woodpeckers. Lake Akanko is also one of the places where kokanees, landlocked sockeye salmons, originated.
As there are some spots where hot water gushes out from hot springs by Lake Kussharoko, some parts of the lake are left unfrozen in winter, where whooper swans spend the winter. In 1930s, there was an eruption at the bottom of the lake and it almost wiped out the fish. However, signs of fish can be seen in the lake in recent years.