Monday, 26 September 2016

2016 Hokkaido Trip Day 6 (7 Sep):

Akanko 阿寒湖 (Lake Akan)
Mashuko 摩周湖 (Lake Mashu)
Accommodation: Hotel Kifu Club

Akanko 阿寒湖 Lake Akan
Mashuko 摩周湖 Lake Mashu
We woke up to much better weather and clearer lake so after breakfast, we strolled along the lake and took a cruise to see the Marimo, a kind of algae balls only found in Lake Akan in Hokkaido and Lake Mývatn in Iceland. Cruises take 85 min including a 15 min stop at the Marimo conservation center and depart hourly from the Akanko cruise center or you may opt for motor boat which can do it in half the time. The hotel gave us a 10% off discount coupon which we used for the cruise. I was hoping to be able to see the moss balls in their natural habitat but they were more like in a tank with some Japanese explanations. I guess if you do not have time, you do not need to take the cruise as you can also see it at the exhibition center at Akanko. My friend said they managed to touch the Marimo balls at the exhibition and you can also get Marimo ball souvenirs in little jars to take home.


Marimo Balls


Akanko ink stamp
Marimo Balls Souvenir
About an hour drive away are the Lake Mashu first and third observation platforms 摩周湖の展望 (Mashuko Tenbodai). First observation platform has a carpark (¥400 fee required), souvenir shop with snacks such as cut melon, lunch (simple stuff like ramen) and toilets. Third platform which is 2-3 min drive away is purely for observation. There are no toilets etc. I recommend going to both as both views are really nice on a clear day and they are so near to each other. Third platform seems less touristy as we didn't see any bus parking facilities. Parking for cars is free at third platform. I guess if you want to save on parking you can park at third platform and walk to first platform and back. 

View from 1st Platform
At the third platform, it started getting hazy and within 15 mins, visibility was poor. Another reminder to enjoy the scenery while it lasts and to be at the right place at the right time.

When we arrived at Shiretoko 知床, it was drizzling so we just rested in our room in Hotel Kifu Club ホテル季風クラブ. After splurging on the suite in Akanko, our room in Shiretoko for 2 nights is a cosy 8-tatami room haha. This family-run cosy hotel is a very convenient base for exploring the Shiretoko Five Lakes 知床五湖 (Shiretoko Goko) region. The young lady owner Ayako San speaks some English and they have staff who speak fluent Mandarin (Mainland Chinese students) too. The room, though not big, is clean and has all the standard amenities (toothbrush, toothpaste, cleanser, toner, moisturizer, garment refresher). The public and chartered (no charge) hot spring baths are simple but nice to have in the cold weather.



Dinner on the first night was a cook-it-yourself tempura which we didn't really enjoy cos we don't really like oily food and I couldn't sleep in my yukata because of the oily smell on the clothes (thankfully I always bring PJs).

Dinner: Cook on your own tempura

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