Mount Meakan: Why Getting Here For The Remarkable Volcanic Ponds are Totally Worth It!

Mount Meakan: Why Getting Here For The Remarkable Volcanic Ponds are Totally Worth It!

Mount Meakan or Meakandake is also known as Akandake (or Mount Akan).
At 1499 meters high, it is the highest mountain in the Akan Volcanic Complex.
The closest neighbour is Mount Akan Fuji (at 1476 meters).
The good news is that both of these mountains are connected to each other.
So, you don’t have to descend to the foot and then come back up for Mount Akan Fuji.
You can have “one stone kill two birds” with a little detour.

How To Get To Mount Meakan

Unfortunately, there are no bus service from Lake Akan to Mount Meakan.
The most convenient way to get here is by car.
I would recommend renting a car if you are planning to visit Hokkaido more freely.

I would suggest that you stay around Lake Akan.
Download our Hotellook App to compare for the best deals around the area.
From Lake Akan, it will take you 18 minutes via Route 240 and 949 by car.

When Is The Best Time To Visit Mount Meakan

Mount Meakan is open for hiking from middle of May to middle of October.
The best time to hike would be the middle of September to middle of October, as you can enjoy the colorful scenery of the autumn leaves.
And the temperature at the peak would be just nice at a high 11 Celsius.
I will strong advise you to bring your raincoat along as rain volume are higher from Augutst to October.

It will be too cold for hiking in December, and it will be very dangerous for hiking until end of April. Snow will start melting in May and greenery will start sprouting.
If you like greenery, hiking in the middle of May to early August would be a good idea.

Hiking Mount Meakan

The hike begins from the Nonaka Onsen Mountain Entrance.
There is an onsen (hot spring) that you can enjoy after the hike.
It makes a good reason to start here so that you know once you have completed the hike, you get a good dip at the hotspring.

Altogether there are 9 stations.
For the stations at the lower altitude, you can enjoy the shade of the pine trees.

As you reach the 5th station, if you look back to the direction from where you came, you will see the beautiful Lake Onneto.
Depending on what time it is, the direction of the sun and the angle that you are viewing Lake Onneto, the color of the lake is different.
That’s what makes it special!

As you slowly ascend up to the 6th station, you will find that the trees are getting shorter and shorter.
Then, there will be more shrubs and flowers and it will slowly fizzle out as you ascend.
Leaving you with volcanic gravels.
Be careful as it is easy to slip and fall. Walking stick will help!

meakan 6th station
Mount Meakan 6th Station: Shrubs and Flowers

Right up at the 7th station, you will be able to see Lake Akan.
It takes about 2 hours 30 minutes to reach the summit at 1499 meters.

At the summit, there is a crater.
You can walk around it or you can just stroll along it from the 9th station to 8th station.
Inside the crater, you will see two ponds.
The blue pond.
And very rare, the red pond.

Mount meakan red pond
Very Rare Sight of Mount Meakan Red Pond

In the past, there was a smaller blue pond but it has dried up due to geothermal activity.

Take a good rest at the summit and enjoy the view.
Taking a 360 view, you should be able to see Lake Akan, Mount Oakan, Fuji Akan, Mount Rausu, and Mount Shari.

It takes about 2 hours to descend to the Lake Onneto.

Mount Akan Fuji

Mount Akan Fuji Viewed From the Peak of Mount Meakan
Mount Akan Fuji Viewed From the Peak of Mount Meakan

Before you fully descend to the foot of the mountain, you might want to consider a little detour to Mount Akan Fuji.
As you depart from the 8th station towards the 5th station, there is an ascend path to Mount Akan Fuji.

You can take another 30 minutes of detour to ascend Mount Akan Fuji.
Then, have your lunch at the peak and looking back at Mount Meakan.
Enjoying the view of the Mount Meakan before taking another 30 minutes to descend back to the detour junction.
Do not expect to see the crater of Mount Meakan as Mount Meakan is taller than Mount Akan Fuji.

Well, I leave it up to you to decide if you want to take this 1 hour detour to Mount Akan Fuji.
My take is since you are there, you might as well conquer another peak, right?

Lake Onneto

Lake Onneto in Akan Mashu National Park is an acidic lake.
There are no fish in it, except for salamanders and crayfish that can survive under such harsh conditions.

Lake Onneto Cobalt Blue
Cobalt Blue Waters in Lake Onneto

It is considered one of Hokkaido’s Three Great Lakes together with Lake Okotampe and Lake Shinonome.
It is great because of the beautiful colors of the lake.
In the morning, when the sun shine diagonally, the surface of the lake turns to cobalt blue.
It is a marvelous sight!

Lake Onneto Observation Deck

After the descend from Mount Meakan (to the trailhead), proceed to the Lake Onneto Observation Deck (optional).
Despite the map says it is an observatory, do no mistake it as a observation tower.
In fact, it is a wooden deck by the lake.

Wooden Observation Deck Lake Onneto
Wooden Observation Deck in Lake Onneto

You can either walk over from the trailhead to the observation deck.
Or, you can walk back to Nonaka Onsen, get your car and drive back here (which I would recommend as you would have been probably tired by now).

Nonaka Onsen

From the trailhead, you would have 2 choices.
One; take the path to the Lake Onneto Observation Deck
Two; walk back to the Nonaka Onsen which is your starting point.

I would suggest Option2.
Enjoy your deserving dip at the Nonaka Onsen hotspring first.
On your way back, drive up to the Lake Onneto Observation Deck for the sunset view.

If you take my suggestion, from the trailhead, as you walk along the way, enjoy the view of slim tall pine trees shading you towards Nonaka Onsen.

Nonaka Onsen Hot Spring Relax Benefit to health
Dive into the Nonaka Onsen to relax after your hike

Once, you are back at the Nonaka Onsen, I would highly recommend that you take a dip.
You deserve it!
Furthermore, it is highly affordable at 350 yen.
There is a gender-segregated indoor onsen, and an outdoor unisex onsen.
Normally, I will go with the indoor hot spring! But that’s my choice!
The good thing about indoor hot spring is that you don’t easily catch cold as your rise from the hotspring.
If you go for the outdoor hotspring, and if it gets windy and chilly, you can catch cold as you rise from from hotspring.
The good thing about the outdoor hotspring is that it is much more relaxing, and not as boring as staring at the four walls of the indoor hotspring.

As a rule to any hotspring in Japan, you have to shower first before going into the hotspring.
After you have cleaned up, then you can go for a dip.
My advice, don’t jump in right away.
The spring temperature is around 42 Celsius. It is not boiling but it is definitely hot!

Have you seen a putting a frog in hot water? Yeah, it will jump straight back out!
Instead, put in your feet, accommodate to the temperature.
Then walk in, stand for a few minutes.
Finally, slowly lower yourself, to submerge up to your neck.
On the last step, wring your towel, and put it on top of your head.

Going into onsen is not only relaxing, but also beneficial to health.
The onsen contains sodium, calcium, magnesium and potassium (already sounding like supplements) that claims to help:

The health benefits only works by dipping in it, not by drinking it ya!
Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Onneto Hot Falls

Onneto Hot Falls or Yu No Taki is not only a waterfall where hot spring flows, but it is the only place in the world where manganese deposits are still growing on land.
Manganese dioxide is formed by the reaction to bacteria and micro-organism.

What manganese dioxide is for

We may not realize it but manganese dioxide are in most of the things we use everyday.
It is mostly used as an additive to iron, bottles, animals feeds and so on.
Even the dry battery that you use to power up your torch light has manganese dioxide inside.

How To Get To Onneto Hot Falls

Onneto Hot Falls is located 1.4 km southeast of Onneto Lake.
You can park you car at the car parking lot near to the campground at the South of Onneto Lake, and follow the signs to the Hot Falls.
It takes about 45 minutes to complete the 2.8km round trip.

Is It Worth Visiting Onneto Hot Falls?

It is worth it if you have extra time and energy left after the above destinations are completed.
The most worthy reason for visiting is to be at the only place on Earth where manganese dioxide is not mined but growing naturally.
It is really a wonder of the nature.
You can see manganese dioxide are formed like black mud under the flowing hot water.

Moreover, tours do not bring people to Onneto Hot Falls.
That makes you the very few gazetteers that step foot on this rare location.
And that itself is really something you can brag on! =)


DO NOT BATH in the Onneto Hot Falls
The high content of manganese in the water is not safe for bathing

0800 Morning

Depart From Hotel

Use our Hotellook Apps to look for Hotel in Lake Akan.
It is just 18 minutes away via Route 240 and 949 by car.

0820 Morning

Nonaka Hot Spring

Park your car here and start your hike

1100 Morning

Summit of Mount Meakan

See the Blue Pond and the rare Red Pond
Enjoy the view of from Mount Meakan:
Challenge yourself and see if you can find
Lake Onneto, Mount Akan Fuji, Lake Akan

1130 Morning

Descend to the Ridge and Hike Mount Akan Fuji

This is optional, but recommended since you are already here, why not conquer another peak

1200 Afternoon

Summit of Mount Akan Fuji

Have lunch and enjoy the view Mount Meakan peak

1230 Afternoon

Descend from Summit of Mount Akan Fuji

Go back to Mount Meakan descend path

1300 Afternoon

Mount Meakan 5th Station

You should be on the right track if you reach the 5th station by now!

1430 Afternoon

Trailhead Onneto Campground

If you are energetic, you can walk to the Onneto Observation Deck (optional).
I will put it as the last destination though.

1545 Evening

Nonaka Hotspring

Walk through the pine trees and back to your starting point.
Enjoy Your Dip At The Nonaka Hotspring

1700 Evening

Drive To The Onneto Campground Parking Lot

This is optional. Trek to the Onneto Hot Falls.

1730 Evening

Onneto Hot Falls

The only place on Earth where Manganese Dioxide “grows” naturally.

1800 Evening

Onneto Observation Deck

Return to your car and drive to the Onneto Observation Deck
Enjoy the Cobalt Blue of the Lake against the Sunset

1830 Evening

Return to Hotel in Lake Akan

Use our Hotellook Apps to look for Hotel in Lake Akan.

In Summary …

Mount Meakan
  • Easy to Climb
  • Access
  • View


I am rating Mount Meakan highly as it offers an exceptional view. There is always something for you as you hike. From the base station, to the peak, back on the descend, there are plenty to offer. You can see not just one volcanic pond, but two. Best part, it comes in different color: blue and red. You have the option of hiking the next peak so that you can look back at the first peak you hiked. When you come back down, there is a calm Lake Onneto with a rare gem cobalt blue color. Simply extraordinary. If that is not extraordinary enough for you, trek to the Onneto Hot Falls, where it is the only place on Earth where manganese dioxide (the stuff that your battery is made of) “grows” naturally instead of being mined. When you have finished your hike, there is a prize waiting for you – a dip in the healing hot spring of Nonaka Onsen. 
I just dont see how you can get bored with this hiking adventure!

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