Mashuko, Akan National Park
When visiting Lake Mashuko, the Ainu god smiled at me. I could admire the lake and Kamuishu Island, which are almost always fogbound. I shared the day’s good luck with Hiroshi from Kyoto. This round-faced student visited Hokkaido just to see Kamuishu, which is like a beauty spot on a woman’s face. The oval-shaped small island is the peak of the lava hill in the lake.
In Ainu kamuishu means an old woman who became a god. According to an Ainu legend a strong tribe chief was killed in a war, and his mother was running about to escape in dark fields and mountains with her grandchild. But the mother lost the child and ranged through the woods looking for the beloved one. Finally she arrived at the shore of Mashuko, where she asked for Mt Kamuinupuri’s permission to rest. While taking a rest she transformed herself to an isle because of fatigue and sadness.
ashuko is a crescent-moon crater lake with its steep encircling wall. Mt Kamuinupuri (Divine Mountain in Ainu) towers above the shore. The maximum depth of Mashuko is 212m. There are two inflowing streams, but no observable outlet. It is believed that water seeps out through porous bottom sediments, since the water level remains fairly constant. In 1931 the transparency of 42m ranked among the clearest lakes surpassing that of Lake Baikal. The clarity has, however, decreased substantially. It was no more than 18m in 2002.
I walked along the shore and enjoyed the beauty of birch forests. When I returned, a thick mist surrounded the lake. It was a temporary good luck.