This is Edmond from Hokkaido Government Representative Office. I heard about a famous bread shop in Obihiro called “Mugioto (麦音)” and wanted to check it out, therefore, I woke up early to head there for breakfast.
The special feature of this bread shop, is that it has a garden terrace, where you will be able to enjoy your bread with a beautiful view of their garden. During the summer, it is really popular and will be pretty packed with people trying to get a seat in the garden terrace, so do head early if you want to get a good spot to enjoy your meal.
Interior of “Mugioto” bread shop
Bread from “Mugioto” at the garden terrace
View from the garden terrace at “Mugioto”
After my breakfast, it is time for my drive trip towards the beautiful nature scenic spots in Eastern Hokkaido. First, I dropped by a photo spot in Tokachi called “Shirakaba Namiki (白樺並木)”, where you will be able to take beautiful pictures of two symmetrical rows of trees growing along the road.
Next it is off to the highway and along the way there were so many trees with beautiful autumn foliage that I just have to take out my camera to take some pictures.
Photo spot, “Shirakaba Namiki (白樺並木)”
Photos of autumn foliage along the highway
I first headed to the “Kushiro Marsh Observatory”. You will be able to view the entire marsh’s beautiful scenery from the top of the Observatory. On the 2nd floor, there is a small exhibition area, where you can learn about the various wildlife that resides in the marsh. The souvenir shop also sells a variety of pretty animal straps symbolizing Kushiro, such as red-crested cranes and owls.
Exterior of “Kushiro Marsh Observatory”
View from the observatory of the “Kushiro Marsh Observatory”
Exhibition area of “Kushiro Marsh Observatory”
Next, it is back to the car and I am off to “Lake Mashu (摩周湖)”!! Along the way, there was a pair of red-crested cranes walking around in one of the fields that I passed by.
Pair of red-crested cranes
After driving for about 2 hours, I finally reached “Lake Mashu”! This lake is a caldera lake in Hokkaido which attracts many tourists due to its deeply dense blue waters. It was one of the most beautiful lakes that I have seen in my life. From the observatory, you will be able to see the beautiful panoramic view of the entire lake. Aside from the lake, you can see the vast mountainous landscape that surrounds the entire area.
Beautiful view of the blue waters of “Lake Mashu”
Mountainous landscape surround the “Lake Mashu” area
All that traveling made me hungry and I headed to a cute resutaurant outlet called “Poppotei”, which is situated right outside JR Mashu station. The ramen at this shop is known for not only being delicious but also very “insta-worthy” for pictures.
Delicious “Insta-worthy” ramen
After lunch, I headed to my next destination, “Lake Kussharo (屈斜路湖)”, the largest caldera lake in Japan. This is the biggest lake that I have seen so far in all my travels to Japan. The lake is also full of wildlife and you can see many ducks and birds living in their natural habitat.
There is even a small hot spring, where you will be able to soak in and enjoy the beautiful view of the lake. You will also be able to enjoy a “Sunayu/Sand bath (砂湯)” experience, along its shores, where if you dig out the sand, there will be hot, warm waters beneath it for you to create your own hot spring.
View of “Lake Kussharo”
Mini hot spring, with the view of “Lake Kussharo”
Various wildlife living around “Lake Kussharo”
“Sunayu” along the shores of “Lake Kussharo”
To get a panoramic view of the entire lake, I drove up to “Bihoro pass”, where there is an observatory to see the entirety of the lake.
View of “Lake Kussharo” from “Bihoro Pass”
As the sun was setting and the temperature getting cold, I decided that it is time to head towards “Lake Akan (阿寒湖)”, where my hotel was located. After arriving, as it was already during the night, I was unable to get a clear view of “Lake Akan”. However, I heard that there was an on-going night illumination walk event called “Kamuy Lumina”.
“Kamuy Lumina” is a night-illumination event that is staged in Hokkaido’s Akan-Mashu National park, on the shores of “Lake Akan”. The night forest around “Lake Akan” is lighted up with beautiful illuminations and tells the story of the culture of the Ainu people, the indigenous people. You will be guided through the forest by an owl, known as the “kotan-kor-kamuy”, which is the guardian god of the Ainu villages.
“Kamuy Lumina” is a limited event that ran from 5th July to 17th November 2019. The schedule for 2020 is yet to be confirmed.
“Kamuy Lumina” event at “Lake Akan”
An owl guiding the way through “Kamuy Lumina”
Various animal illuminations at “Kamuy Lumina”
If you were unable to catch “Kamuy Lumina”, I recommend heading to the “Akanko Ainu Kotan”, which I went to after I finished my “Kamuy Lumina” walk.
The “Akanko Ainu Kotan” is one of Hokkaido’s largest Ainu settlements that comprises of 36 buildings. You will be able to purchase various Ainu souvenirs and crafts at the various shops available. The highlight of this place is the “LOST KAMUY” interactive show at the “Akanko Ainu Theater Ikor”. The show will allow you to get a glimpse of Ainu culture and at show finale, they will invite all the audiences to dance alongside with the performers.
Aside from the show, you can also register for hands-on Ainu culture craft workshops, where you will be able to make you own “mukkuri (traditional Ainu musical instrument)”, try hands-on woodcarving and needlework. Do note that reservations will be required one day in advance.
Entrance to “Akanko Ainu Kotan”
“Akanko Ainu Theater Ikor”
“Lost Kamuy” show at “Akanko Ainu Theater Ikor”
“Lost Kamuy” show on-going
Audience dancing together with the performers during the “Lost Kamuy” show
Finally, I headed back to my hotel and today I am staying at “Akan Yuku no Sato Tsuruga”, along with some luck, they were kind enough to give me an upgrade and I got a huge room all to myself. It is also a hot spring resort, just perfect to soak away in the hot baths after a whole day out in the cold.
Hotel room for the night at “Akan Yuku no Sato Tsuruga”
I am looking forward to the morning to see the beautiful “Lake Akan”, which I heard so much about!