Mizu-no-Kamuy ~KushiroWetland, Akan, and Mashu~ Tourism Area
Encounter the spirit of water, Mizu-no-Kamuy
This is a region of majestic and varied nature. Lake Akan is the world’s only natural habitat for large spherical marimo, Lake Mashū boasts a water clarity that is world class, and Kushiro Wetland is home to the red-crowned crane which is a designated special natural monument. All this nature is tied together by the cyclical flow of water. The immense fog that occurs in the open sea off Kushiro in the Pacific Ocean, flows into the caldera of Lake Kussharo. With nowhere else to go, it gathers and becomes a sea of clouds. This fog wets the forests of the caldera and becomes water again, once more starting its journey back to the ocean. Winter brings frost to the three caldera lakes: hoarfrost (ice coated trees, pack ice in the water, air hoar), and it is possible to see several different forms of 'ice' such as frost flowers and diamond dust. Along with rain, fog, snow and ice, as well as the hot springs, it is possible to experience water in all its seven variations here.
Bountiful water is one of the special charms of this region, and there is also the idea of living in harmony with nature that comes from the indigenous Ainu peoples. Ainu culture believes that 'Spirits' dwell in all things and it is from the name for the god of water that the word Kamuy comes.
This 'Mizu-no-Kamuy' the deity of water has furnished this impressive, plentiful natural habitat, and with the history and culture of co-existing with this nature, touches us deeply, stimulating all our five senses.
The Characteristics of this Area
It is a cool climate as summer sees the effects of the sea fog rolling in off the Pacific, so even in mid summer most days are under 20 degrees. Winter is bitterly cold with the surface of Lake Akan and Lake Kussharo freezing over. Snowfall in inland parts such as Akan and Teshikaga is heavy, while areas close to the sea like Kushiro tend to be lighter.
There are 3 caldera lakes (Akan, Mashū, Kussharo) . There is also the Akan River that flows from Lake Akan, and the Kushiro River that flows from Lake Kussharo through Kushiro City and into the Pacific. It is also the only region in Japan with two National Parks: the Kushiro-shitsugen National Park, and the Akan-Mashu National Park.
Every area has a rich Ainu culture, with each one being distinct and varied. For example, Lake Akan has Hokkaido's biggest Ainu kotan (village), and the Marimo Festival brings Ainu from all over Hokkaido.
Robata-yaki originated in Kushiro and is freshly caught seafood cooked on the open fire at the harbour. Also with the sockeye salmon from Lake Akan, as well as Mashū melon growing at the northern limits, it is a region of many foods.