What is a national park?


It is an area designated by law as an area with outstanding natural landscapes that represent Japan and should be protected and used appropriately.
 Unlike parks in the city, the entire area is a park of tens of thousands of hectares.
 In Japan, 34 national parks have been designated (as of March 6, Reiwa 6), from Hokkaido in the north to Okinawa in the south.

It is also known as a representative nature conservation area in Japan, and not only the landscape but also the characteristic ecosystem is preserved, and it is also a habitat for various animals and plants.
 It has long been known as a tourist destination and recreation area, and there are many mountains that are popular for climbing, and there are many places with high-quality hot springs and accommodations.

In a nutshell, it is a very good place that the government recognizes it.

Further reading:National Parks of Japan(Ministry of the Environment of Japan)

Features of Akan Mashu National Park

◆Designation December 4, 1934

Celebrating its 90th anniversary in 2024, it is one of the oldest national parks in Japan.
Daisetsuzan National Park became a national park in Hokkaido, and outside Hokkaido, Chubu Mountains, the Seto Inland Sea, and Unzen Amakusa National Park became national parks at the same time. At the beginning of the designation, it was “Akan National Park”, but it was changed to its current name on August 8, 2017.

◆area approx.91,413ha(Land area)

Including the surface of the lake, it exceeds 100,000 hectares. It straddles 11 cities and towns.

Akan Mashu National Park Area Map
(From materials provided by the Ministry of the Environment)

◆Reason for Designation ~Volcanoes, forests and lakes create a rich and pristine landscape~

Akan Mashu National Park is home to three calderas: Akan, Lake Kussharo, and Mashu.
A caldera is a landform formed by the collapse of the ground as a result of volcanic activity. This means that at one time there was a lot of volcanic activity.
In recent years, there has not been enough volcanic activity to change the topography, but there are four active volcanoes.
The appearance of the mountain is very powerful, and the fumaroles that rise up are one of the attractions.

In addition, the entire area is covered with forests, and if you climb the mountain and look around, you can see the subarctic forest unique to Hokkaido spreading out below. This is also an attraction.

And then there’s the lake. Lake Akan, Lake Kussharo, and Lake Mashu are all large caldera lakes. In addition, you can see large and small lakes such as Onneto, Panketo, and Kaminokoike. The scenery is stunning, which is also an attraction.

Volcanoes, forests, and lakes, the scenery that weaves together these three attractions is truly a natural landscape and natural environment that represents Japan.

That is why the area has been designated a national park.

Protection Regulations

It is precisely because of the outstanding nature that we must protect it properly. To do this, it is necessary to regulate development that affects the natural environment.
On the other hand, Japan is a small country, and forestry and fishing are carried out even in national parks. There are also hot spring inns in the hot spring area. In the south of Honshu, there are also natural environments that are built on the premise of human activities, such as so-called “satoyama”. We cannot ignore these things and exclude all human activities.

Therefore, in Japan’s national parks, “zoning” has been practiced for quite a long time. Places where pristine nature remains should be protected with strong regulations. In places where forestry is carried out in places where there is human use, such as at the foot of a mountain, a certain amount of industry should be allowed to be carried out on the premise of preserving the natural environment. That’s how we’ve responded.

Similarly, in Akan Mashu National Park, strict regulations have been put in place as “special protection zones” such as Mt. Meakan, Mt. Oakan, the Marimo habitat of Lake Akan, and Lake Mashu, and the area around the hot spring town is designated as a “special area,” and a system is applied to ensure that the balance between protection and local industry is maintained.

Rules and manners for using Akan Mashu National Park

Akan Mashu National Park has maintained its beautiful appearance with the cooperation of everyone. In order to protect the wonderful nature and leave it for future generations, please enjoy it while observing the rules and manners.

※For details on regulations, please contact the respective nature conservation officer’s office of the Ministry of the Environment.

 〇 Please refrain from collecting living things (Fishing is possible if you purchase a recreational fishing ticket and follow the rules.) and damaging (trampling, breaking, etc.).
 Collecting all kinds of animals and plants is prohibited in mountainous areas such as Mt. Meakan and Mt. Oakan, in the northern part of Lake Akan, Onneto Yunotaki Falls, Lake Mashu, etc.
 In other areas, many rare plants are also prohibited from being collected. (Lichens and mushrooms are also treated as plants under the law.) 

〇 It is also prohibited to install or build man-made objects without permission.
 Not only large-scale ones, but also small-scale ones such as small signboards and tents set up outside designated areas such as campsites.

〇 Actions that cause changes in the terrain, such as mining soil and minerals, are also prohibited.

〇 Vehicles (including light vehicles and snowmobiles) are prohibited from entering outside the road and parking lot in a wide area.
 There are also a number of lakes and marshes where motorboats are prohibited from entering. Please be careful not to enter the restricted area.

〇Do not leave garbage outdoors. Even if it is likely to return to nature, be sure to take it home.

〇 Do not deviate from the mountain trail. In order not to cause vegetation damage due to trampling and to prevent climbers from getting lost.

〇 Wash your mountaineering boots and spats before entering the mountain. It is very effective in preventing the introduction of non-native plant seeds into the mountains.

〇Please refrain from feeding wild animals.
In order not to affect the ecosystem and not to get zoonotic diseases (diseases and parasites)

〇Please take measures against brown bears and bad weather.
Make sure you have enough equipment and information gathering, and try to reduce the risk of accidents as much as possible.