This museum was created by Zenko Adachi to showcase his passions Japan, art and gardens. A rich businessman from humble beginnings, he wanted to give something back to his rural home town Yasugi. The museum houses his art (including numerous works by Yokoyama Taikan) and pottery collection and is surrounded by an elaborate formal Japanese garden. As you walk around the museum is is hard to tell where the gallery ends and the garden begins. The art work is presented in a very accessible way, it is not some test of your knowledge of art history and style, he just wants you to look at and enjoy his collection. Pick your favorite picture and you might win a prize. The garden seeks to represent the perfect landscape and at time is borderline "tellytubbie". But the overall effect is entrancing; the carefully selected stones with glistening moss, the verdant perfectly round bushes, the distant waterfall, the borrowed landscape and the carp leaping into dragon form. Do not rush it.
Home to the cutest algae in the world
There are frequent boat cruises on the lake, both during the day and at night. The longer trips include a stop at the marimo observatory and it is here that you can view marimo in captivity. Marimo or Aegagropila linnaei is a floating algae that due to the unique environmental conditions in lake Akan forms adorable moss balls. Back on shore there are a wide variety of marimo souvenirs for purchase.
The trail starts from Meaken Onsen. To get there we opted for 20 minute taxi ride from Akanko. An early start to avoid afternoon cloud is recommended, we started out at 8.30 and already Japanese hikers were descending.
The starting point is easily recognized as there is a large collection of warning signs and a hikers register. Initially the trail winds through forest that becomes shorter and shorter until only dwarf pines remain. The last section zigzags up red volcanic rock taking around half an hour to arrive at the crater's edge.
In my opinion this is an easy volcano to climb, only 2hrs from trailhead to crater, not too steep and very little volcanic scree. But it is certainly rewarding, active with clouds of stream and sulfurous gases, the classic volcanic landscape and views of lakes Onneto, Akan and Kussharo.
To return we took the Shiroyu-yama Shizen Satsuro Trail which leads back to Akanko. The first section is a botanists dream passing through the different vegetation types as the path descends. Due to the passing of a typhoon the night before, there was added adventure with numerous fallen trees to climb over or around. On reaching the forestry track we followed signs for Hakuto-zan observatory. This leads to a fine view point for Akan lake if you are very fortunate. The path then descends past a number of Bokke, volcanic bubbling mud pools. When you reach the ski piste it is only a couple of kilometers into town.