Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Wonders of Hokkaido Island

Akan Lake is first of all unique due to marimo algae, they don't grow anywhere else. Marimo looks like green balls from some millimeters to a meter in diameter. Until recently each Japanese who has an aquarium wanted to have such a ball. As a result of such striving marimo has begun to disappear, and now the special environmental program works to save the unique algae. However it does not prevent street vendors from selling little green balls at each corner near Akan. The pictures of marimo can be seen below.
In Ainu village there live about 130 ancestors of the Ainu - those people who had lived here when the Japanese only began to settle on these lands. Today it's not much that has remained from them. 36 families in Ainu Kotan - the biggest commune of the Ainu in Hokkaido. Though the village is authentic, it's fully tourism-oriented, all in souvenir shops where really cool wooden carved goods are sold, unfortunately quite expensive though. And the traders look very exotic - with big beards. 
Kushiro is famous for its cranes - tantyo, about 900 of them live here. The Ainu used to call these birds "Gods of the bogs". 

Ainu village

The carver - an ancestor of the ancient Ainu.

Owls are the symbol of these places, they sit everywhere and watch what happens around.

The unique algae marimo.

Only here they grow - in Akan Lake.

Kushiro - on these plains tantyo cranes live in the season.

Unfortunately in the dead season they can be seen only in the pens.

Another place to visit in Hokkaido - The National Park Shiretoko. It occupies the further north-eastern part of the island. The word "Shiretoko" itself in translation from the Ainu language means "end of the world". And it's true. There's no civilization there. No roads. But there are many bears, waterfalls and impassable thickets.
If you want to go there you'll have to register and get a visa. There are rangers in Japan even in those places where ordinary people would never go, if one is caught without a permitting document the fine will be huge. Even if you aren't caught you'd better register anyway, as it was written in Lonely Planet: "if you, crossing another impassable gully, break your leg, you may only hope that vessels going by will notice you sooner than bears".

Here is located the famous Siretoko Goko - five lakes that look like "God's five fingerprints". The lakes are wonderful indeed.

Don't forget to wash legs in the Sea of Okhotsk.
via vnarod

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