Oakan-dake Dayhike

雄阿寒岳 | Pinne-sir

Posted on Mar 10, 2020
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Posted on Mar 10, 2020

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Reading time: < 1 min

11km

Distance

6hrs

Time

922m

Ascent

1370m

Highest point

6/10

Difficulty

Best season icon (Hokkaido Wilds)
May-Oct

Best season

The centerpieces of the Akan-Mashu National Park are the two volcanic peaks of Meakan-dake (one of Japan’s 100 Famous Mountains) and Oakan-dake. Separated by Lake Akan with its popular resort, in Ainu they were known respectively as the Female Mountain and the Male Mountain, and this nomenclature has carried over into their Japanese names as well. Oakan-dake (雄阿寒岳1370m) is a classically shaped volcanic peak rising steeply out of a sea of primeval forest. While no longer active like its partner, it nevertheless gives a very worthwhile climb past some pretty small lakes and up through forests and alpine zones to a panoramic rocky summit.

We visited this route on Oct 16, 2019

Photos by Rob Thomson

Last updated Mar 11, 2020

Route Map

Need to know details

Location

The Akan-Mashu National Park 阿寒摩周国立公園 is in east Hokkaido, midway between the major cities of Kushiro on the Pacific coast and Abashiri on the Okhotsk coast. Oakan-dake lies east of Lake Akan a few kms along Route 241 east of Akan Lakeside village 阿寒湖畔. The hiking route up Oakan-dake starts here.

General notes

In Ainu the mountain is called pinne-sir man mountain. The nearby resort of Akan Lakeside 阿寒湖畔 has shops, onsen, accommodation and a campsite. The lake is famous for its spherical green balls of algae known as marimo. There is also an Ainu Kotan (village) with regular dance performances and shops selling woodcarvings. Despite the touristy nature of the place, behind the scenes it is an important centre for the transmission and development of contemporary Ainu culture. Some of the upmarket tourist hotels have displays of the work of the talented woodcarvers based here. The summer hiking season is from mid-May into October.

Route Timing
Up | 3hrs
Down | 3hrs

Bank on just over 3 hours from trailhead to summit, and then just under 3 hours on the way down, for a total of 6 hours.

Route

The trail is well defined. The trailhead 雄阿寒岳登山口 is at 420m elevation a few meters down a signed track that turns north off Route 241 a short way west of the junction with Route 240 to Teshikaga. The path crosses the outflow of Lake Akan then skirts round a couple of small lakes, Taro-ko 太郎湖 and Jiro-ko 次郎湖, then into mature forests without too much climbing for the first hour or so. Then it begins to get steeper and as you gain height the forest thins out into birch and haimatsu dwarf pine up to a shoulder in about another hour. From here it is generally less steep but when you reach the old crater there is a final section with some ups and downs before reaching the summit after another hour. Return by the same route.

Transport

Public transport:

There is a bus stop nearby (Takiguchi 滝口, location) that is served infrequently by the Akan Bus service between Kushiro and Akan Lakeside (0154-37-2221). See the timetable information here (in Japanese). In reality, it’s probably more practical to get a taxi from the Akan Township. It’s only about 4km (5 minutes) from the township to the trailhead. Akan Nature Center (阿寒ネイチャーセンター, TEL: 0154-67-2801) also offers bicycle rental, but they’ve only got four bicycles on offer. Booking ahead is very highly recommended.

By car: 

Turn off Route 241 here, at a small signed turning a few km east of Akan Lakeside. A short way down the track there is a small parking area with public toilets.

Hut(s)

None

Physical maps

Yama to Kogen Chizu 山と高原地図, No.1 Rishiri, Rausu (Shari, Akan) 利尻・羅臼. Published by Shobunsha 昭文社. 1:50000 hiking maps in Japanese with marked routes and course times.

GSI Topo Map: Oakandake (雄阿寒岳) – map no. NK-55-31-16-1

NOTE: The GSI 1/25000 topo map(s) above can be purchased for 350yen each from Kinokuniya bookstore next to Sapporo Station or online (in Japanese).

route safety

The upper slopes and summit are very exposed to the wind and the appropriate bad weather gear should be taken. The usual bear precautions should be followed.

Weather forecast

Windy.com weather forecast for Oakan-dake

Onsen nearby

There are many onsen facilities back at Akan Lakeside. For an onsen with a view of the lake, try the New Akan Hotel (ニュー阿寒ホテル, location, 1300yen). Their onsen is open from noon till 5pm. For something a little cheaper, try Marimo-yu (まりも湯, location, 500yen). They’ve got a basic natural indoor onsen. Google Maps says Marimo-yu is ‘permanently closed’ but word is they’ll be re-opening in spring 2020.

Extra Resources

In Japanese: Hokkaido Natsuyama Gaido 6, 北海道夏山ガイド 6 道東・道北・増毛の山々 (Hokkaido Shimbunsha). These guides are updated every few years.

Guide Options

If you’d like to hike this route and/or explore other areas of central Hokkaido with a local certified guide, then contact Jun Ishiguro. He’s a JMGA (Japan Mountain Guides Association) mountain guide on the board of directors of the Hokkaido Mountain Guides Association (HMGA). As a senior figure in the Hokkaido guiding scene, and with extensive experience, he can tailor trips to your needs. See a full list of English-speaking Hokkaido Mountain Guides Association (HMGA) guides on the HMGA website here

Show Full Route Notes Close Route Notes

Route Trip Notes

Unlike our climb of Meakan-dake a few days before, we were lucky to have a clear day for the ascent of its partner. The small lakes near the bottom were fringed with spectacular autumn colours, with the sunshine also bringing out the different mineral hues in the water. Mindful of the climb ahead, though, we pressed on and up through the steeper sections, enjoying the expanding view over Lake Akan and Meakan-dake behind us. Buzzards wheeled above us, as they had on my last time here.

It was colder on top, with ice coating the rock formations as the path undulated around the small overgrown crater up to the summit marker. The views to the east included the small lakes of Penketo ペンケトー and Panketo パンケトー, only really visible from here (penke and panke are a common pairing in Ainu, often corresponding to upper and lower, while to means lake). There was nobody else around so Rob flew his new drone around for a bit of practice, taking it out as far as he dared in case it was caught by a sudden gust. After a spot of lunch it was time to head back down, pausing this time to linger in the sun by the lakes, watching the numerous good-sized trout patrolling below the surface.

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Oakan-dake Dayhike Difficulty Rating

Category

Grade

Points

Strenuousness

Vertical Gain

A

40

Time ascending

C

3

Technicality

Altitude

A

10

Hazards

D

Navigation

D

Totals

53/100

GRADES range from A (very difficult) to D (easy). Hazards include exposure to avalanche and fall risk. More details here. Rating rubric adapted from Hokkaido Yukiyama Guidebook 北海道雪山ガイド.