Visiting Lake Akan was the second most disappointing thing that happened to us this entire trip (50% due to rain and 50% due to the marimo exhibits).
After our visit at the Kushiro Crane Reserve, we drove about 1 hour 20 mins from Kushiro to Lake Akan. The weather wasn’t on our side that day as it was raining throughout the entire drive. Furthermore, we were rushing to be in time for the hourly Lake Akan cruise which would bring us to see the Marimo (green moss balls).
We literally ran to the counter to purchase the tickets (1,900Y) for the cruise ride. Any second later, we would have missed the 15:00 ferry and not have enough time to wait one more hour for the next cruise.
The cruise had a capacity of about 100 to 150 but there were barely 30 people during our session. I guess the rainy weather probably turned away a lot of people.
Expectation (Top); Reality (Bottom)
Rain, Grey skies, clouds blocking the mountain , colour-less water. baaah. bad weather sucks.
Series of unappealing photos:
The deck was empty most of the time due to the rain.
Anyway, to add things to the misery, the video that they were playing inside the cruise did not have any english subtitles. However, the announcement on the PA system had english and it says that you can purchase Marimos as souvenirs within the cruise but that supposed “gift shop” could not be found at all..
The boat goes one round along Lake Akan (crater lake) and we were promised “Marimo Viewing” as part of the 1,900Y ticket.
Marimo was something I am pretty fascinated with as it looks interestingly cute. Something like a giant green golf ball. Furthermore, it is something that was only found in Lake Akan, Lake Mývatn (Iceland) and Estonia.
Before visiting this place (you could blame it on the lack of research), I was expecting to see these Marimos from within the lake. Something like a stairs leading down to the base of Lake Akan and we could see Marimo in its natural habitat.
With higher expectations, it often comes with greater disappointments. This was what we saw at the Marimo Exhibition and Observation Center (alighted from the cruise to an island somewhere across the lake) – Marimo balls.. in a Fish Tank.
You have no idea how shocked we were to realise that this fish tank with balls of Marimo .. was the only thing we paid 1,900Y for. We could have given up the cruise ride because of the bad weather but we went ahead because we wanted to see the (impressive) Marimos (inside the Lake).
Anyway, my friend was commenting that if this fish tank was all that of Marimos that we could see.. what value does it have being on the island which we had to pay 1,900Y to get there? They could have move the entire collection to the main land since this centre didn’t have any value-add by being at that location. Any aquarium or tank could do this exhibit as long as they transport the Marimo there..
This was probably the most “wow” exhibit at the centre. A giant Marimo (size bigger than a bowling ball) which probably took year, decades or even centuries to reach this size.
There wasn’t a gift shop at the center either.. Where am I to buy my Marimo souvenirs?
The souvenir shop was found opposite the ticketing counter when we arrive back on land. Which means.. I didn’t have to pay 1,900Y and take the cruise to buy Marimos. Furthermore, as we traveled, there were other gift shops in Hokkaido that sold the Marimos too.. We didn’t have to travel all the way to Lake Akan for them..
(Biased) Conclusion: you can skip Lake Akan if the weather is bad. I preferred Lake Toya a lot more than Lake Akan. The Marimos exhibit was not really worth it and Marimos souvenir can be bought at other souvenir shops in Hokkaido too.