These cuddly, fluffy things are real and all naturally found in Akan Lake of Hokkaido, Japan! They looked soooo squishy 😀 They’re alive! Well, a spiritual moss ball?
These cuddly looking moss balls are not just cute, they have serious values to the locals.. The indigenous tribes use them to perform rituals (marimo matsuri). Below are some photos showing how it is done.
Marimo takes FOREVER to grow. Like 3-5mm per year; 100 years to grow to 10cm. They are naturally formed at the bottom of Akan Lake. The wild marimo are endangered due to pollution and also over ‘harvesting’. These little fellows are pretty sensitive. Too much of anything they die. Thanks to the local’s relentless efforts, marimo now has its own museum and graces 90% Akan souvenir stores. Safe to say that the ‘farmed’ marimo are not endangered anytime soon.
Marimo viewing happens in the middle of Akan Lake *LOL* So ferry ride is a must 😀 I love ferry rides. If you take the cheapest ride like me, there’s only 15min of visit time in the marimo exhibition and observation centre. If you want extra time with these fluff balls, I recommend that you take the more expensive private speedboat.
- You can buy a marimo to bring back home 😀 They have small ones that are in a 100ml jar.
- If you’re into quietness or hikes, staying overnight next to Akan is well worth it. There’re spots to see fireflies if you’re in season 😉
- Accommodation in this area is pricey, book ahead will likely save you a buck or two.
- Weather is rather unpredictable, even in high summer, I highly recommend that you bring a wind breaker or something warm and waterproof.
Where was I?
Churui island on Akan Lake, Hokkaido Japan
What ferry did I take?
Sight seeing cruiser 85min http://www.akankisen.com/_eng/
*Include 15min at the Marimo exhibition and observation centre
Ferry ride JPY1,900 per adult includes a marimo
How to get here?
Either 2.5 hrs bus from JR Kushiro train station or 1.5 hrs by driving.
No trains available.
E.g. Akan Bus (www.akanbus.co.jp) or you can get a bus pass from the bus terminal next to the main bus stop. I highly recommend the bus pass if you plan to do a return bus trip between Kushiro and Akan Lake.
**As you get out of the Kushiro station, turn left. The bus terminal is next door to the Super Hotel (bright yellow)
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Camera: Canon 5D mark 3, Samsung S3 or Sony Z3+ (I can’t remember which phone I used)