(Sept 13) The Lake Akan hot springs resort is a small community surrounded by the forests of Akan National Park.
A sightseeing boat that travels around Lake Akan is a popular attraction.
The high point of the cruise is a stop at an island in the middle of the lake…
…which features an exhibit of marimo, spherical blobs of algae that grow in the lake, which the Japanese apparently find fascinating.
Little marimo are sold in jars in souvenir shops all over Hokkaido, so you can take them home and raise them as pets.
I am told that they will grow very large when supplied with fresh water and artificial light. I wouldn’t recommend them for American tourists though. Probably Customs would take a dim view of them.
These things are the inspiration for the popular marimokkori dolls that are also sold all over Hokkaido.
The New Akan Hotel Shangri-La is one of the larger hotels.
In spite of its name, it is a ryokan. There are no western-style hotels in Akanko, and very few foreigners.
The ceiling of the lobby features an elaborate light show.
The video doesn’t do a good job of conveying the scale. Those things on the side are balconies that look down on the lobby, and those are three transparent elevator shafts at the far end.
An outdoor footbath where passers-by can wash their feet in hot spring water.
The water is just pleasantly warm.
If you didn’t bring a towel there is, of course, a handy vending machine.
There are many easy trails running through the woods.
A bokke (a large pool of gently bubbling hot mud.)
The entrance to the Inari (fox god) Shrine is a very steep series of steps running up the side of a hill.
The interior of the shrine is quite small, almost lost among the huge trees, which seems appropriate for a forest spirit.
By contrast, the Mt. Akan Shrine near the center of the town is much larger, able to hold a crowd of people during a festival.
The town also has a small Buddhist temple.
There are a number of small hot spring fountains along the town’s main street, suitable for handwashing.