Top things to do

Top Choice Lake in Kawayu Onsen

Mashū-ko

Considered by many to be Japan's most beautiful lake, Mashū-ko once held the world record for water clarity. The island in the middle was known by the Ainu as the Isle of the Gods. A road runs along the western rim.…
Top Choice Village in Akanko Onsen

Ainu Kotan

This collection of 36 households is actually the largest Ainu village in Hokkaidō. Residents make a living promoting their culture: dancing on the stage at Ikor, cooking pochie (fermented potato dumplings) in restau…
Top Choice Ainu in Akanko Onsen

Poronno

Poronno, inside the Ainu kotan, has the most interesting menu of the restaurants in town specialising in Ainu cuisine. You can try yukku ruibe (frozen, preserved venison) and dried salmon or pizza with pochie (ferme…
Top Choice Lake in Kawayu Onsen

Kussharo-ko

Japan's largest caldera lake is a rich blue on sunny days. A small volcano peeks out from the centre, creating the island Naka-jima – best viewed from the Bihoro Pass.
Ainu in Kawayu Onsen

Marukibune Restaurant

OK, the food here isn't dramatically different from what a Japanese diner would serve, but you can get a donburi (rice bowl) topped with Hokkaidō venison and gyōja niniku (alpine leek), the local aromatic that has a…
Cafe in Akanko Onsen

Onsen Kōbō Akan

This is brilliant: a cafe with an ashi-yu (foot bath) so you can soak your feet while sipping coffee (¥250). There's food available, too; try the 'zari-bonara' (pasta carbonara with zarigani – freshwater crayfish; ¥…
Museum in Akanko Onsen

Akan Kohan Eco-Museum Centre

At the eastern edge of town, this centre has exhibitions on local flora and fauna, including marimo in aquarium tanks. It also has hiking maps in English and info on trail conditions and bear sightings.
Volcano in Kawayu Onsen

Iō-zan

This hissing mountain (512m), a couple of kilometres south of Kawayu Onsen, is stained sunshine-yellow in patches from sulphur. Locals steam eggs in the hot volcanic vapours for a speciality known as onsen-tamago. C…
Cafe in Kawayu Onsen

Orchard Grass

This cafe is inside historic Kawayu Station (1936), which retains much of its original character – in the form of high, wood-panelled ceilings, antique pendant lamps, stained-glass windows and an iron-and-tile stove…
Live Performance in Akanko Onsen

Ikor

There are several shows daily of traditional singing and dancing at this theatre inside the Ainu kotan. At 9pm nightly, from May through November, performers stage a fire festival, which begins 30 minutes earlier wi…