Hokkaido Day 6: Lake Akan & Long Drive to Furano
We drove southwest from Lake Kussharo to Lake Akan, a large crater lake known for marimo (an algae that grows in the shape of a ball — some can grow as large as soccer balls). There’s a boat tour to cruise around the lake and go to the Marimo Exhibition Center to see the marimo, but we had a long drive ahead of us, so we just stopped at the only town on the lake, Akankohan, for lunch.
Before stopping for lunch, we drove around (to accommodate Baby M’s nap). We saw Mount Oakan to the east of the lake and Mount Meakan to the southwest (both are volcanos — Meakan is still active). Akankohan is a cute town, with a few restaurants and coffee shops on the main street, as well as an Ainu village (Ainu are the indigenous people of northern Japan) — a street lined with stores selling traditional Ainu crafts. We had assorted tempura for lunch, stopped at a 7-Eleven for some iced coffee (really good!), and then hit the road.
A few hours later, we finally arrived in Furano, in central Hokkaido, known for its magnificent flower fields (especially lavender) in the summer and great skiing in the winter (in fact, I think Furano is a bigger winter destination). After checking into our hotel, we went to a quaint French restaurant for dinner. Halfway through dinner, Baby M decided she had finally had enough of sitting (we were in the car for a long time, by baby standards) and threw a tantrum. Luckily we were the only patrons there… but needless to say, we quickly took her back to the hotel to crawl around and then put her to bed.
The onsen at our Furano hotel (the only place we spent two nights) was the smallest and crappiest of our trip. It was basically one large hot tub, with only six showers, so Mom and I had to wait our turn. This onsen was especially disappointing because it concluded our Hokkaido onsen experience (our Airbnb apartment in Sapporo didn’t have an onsen).
Summary of our Hokkaido self drive: Whirlwind Tour around Hokkaido
Lake Akan cruise: http://www.akankisen.com/_eng/
Furano Tourism Association Official Website: http://www.furanotourism.com/en/
Bistro Le Chemin: French restaurant in Furano — excellent food (although portions small) and ambience, but service slow.
Furano Prince Hotel (same chain as our previous hotel on Lake Kussharo): Very rundown hotel that looks great from the outside but definitely needs some major remodeling inside. Our room was on the second floor, and while there was an elevator for the luggage (seriously, why build a half-height elevator?!), there wasn’t one for people (and there were three or four floors). Also, the carpet in the hallways and our room was threadbare with questionable stains. For anyone who has seen “Hot Tub Time Machine,” this hotel reminded me of the super rundown ski lodge in the movie.
This was our second most expensive hotel of the trip but definitely the crappiest (at least our hotel in Otaru was cheap!). I assume prices were high due to the summer flower season, but still!