Posted Fri Mar 12 2021
Unfortunately, I had some rainy days during the tour. The rain on the second day in Hokkaido was the heaviest of them all. I had planned a canoe tour in the morning that day, but it got cancelled due to the forecasted heavy rain.
Therefore, after the breakfast, I first headed to the Kushiro Marsh Observatory, but had to rush back to the car when the heavy rain started. Sad of course, but the day did not end horribly after all.
I was disappointed that I had to give up canoeing and that I could not spend time exploring the Kushiro Marsh Observatory Deck. Cheering myself up, I drove to Touro station, hoping that the rain clears up on the way. Luckily, the rain got much better and I was able to hike up to the two observation decks.
I spotted many birds resting and hunting fishes on the Lake Touro. After passing the lake, I hiked up a mountain to reach the Sarubo and Sarurun Observation Deck. For me who's not a fan of hiking up on the first place, it was a little hard. However, I could see that it was all worth it when I saw the beautiful view.
On the way and back, I was welcomed by many dragonflies. They are everywhere on the ground, so be careful not to step on them! They somehow think they are hiding well and do not move at all even when you get close to them with your foot.
I did not have time to see it, but you can visit the Kottaro Marsh Observatory if you have some time left.
After the hiking, I drove to the Lake Akan. It was already dark, so I did not see much of the lake. The main purpose of coming here was to experience the Ainu culture.
In the end of the street, there is the Ainu Kotan Village where about 200 Ainu people live. There were many shops selling the Ainu artifacts, and the street has an unique atmosphere of the Ainu culture.
In the Ainu Kotan Village, you can enjoy the Ainu performances in the theater which I definitely recommend. Their performance is influenced heavily by the nature and you can clearly see how they cohabited with the nature back in time.
The great performance made me buy one of their traditional instruments called "Mukkuri". It is still waiting for me to be practiced. Despite of how easy it seems and how simple the instrument is, it is quite hard to play, exactly because it is made so simple. How can you make different tones only by the moves of your tongue and the strength of pulling the string.
Trying the traditional Ainu food was one of the main attractions in the Ainu Kotan Village. I had dinner at Poronno that offers the traditional Aimu food. My favorites are rataskep and pocche-imo (or munini-imo).
Rataskep is something similar to a potato salad just with a pumpkin. Pocche-imo is a savory and chewy pancake made with potato flour. Poronno also serves a pizza made with Pocche-imo, which I also recommend.
One of other interesting dishes is mehun. Mehun is a salted fish entrails. I was not a fan of this unique dish, but you should definitely try it at least once if you dare to try something you are not used to :)
After all the fun in the Aimu Kotan Village, I proceeded to the Lake Mashu that boasts the clearest water in the world. Stay tuned for my next article on the Lake Mashu and Shiretoko!