Lake Akan Tsuruga Wings Resort: Nature Adventures in East Hokkaido, Japan

Sunrise, Lake Akan, Hokkaido, Japan

Lake Akan at sunrise, on a winter morning “coffee hike”

We’re walking across on the frozen surface of Lake Akan in Japan’s eastern Hokkaido region. Just after six in the morning, the sun begins to peek over the hills on the far side of the lake, painting the sky gold and rose. As we walk past the vivid orange and lime green tents where ice fishers are starting their day’s work, we spot two of our guides, in equally vibrant orange parkas, around a folding table at the edge of the lake. It’s time for coffee.

This early morning “coffee hike” is just one of several outdoor adventures available to guests at Lake Akan Tsuruga Wings Resort, a lakeside hotel, hot springs, and restaurant complex on Japan’s island of Hokkaido. Here’s the scoop on this nature-focused resort.

Lake Akan Tsuruga Wings Resort

Located in the town of Lake Akan, known as Akanko Onsen in Japanese, Lake Akan Tsuruga Wings Resort is one of several lodgings that line the shore of this caldera lake, serving as a gateway for visitors exploring the waters, mountains, and forests of the surrounding Akan-Mashu National Park. The town is also home to Japan’s largest remaining Indigenous Ainu community.

The hotel itself is part of a large complex that includes both the “Wings” resort and its sister property, Akan Yuku No Sato Tsuruga. Guests in both hotel buildings can use the facilities in either location.

Artwork, Lake Akan Tsuruga Wings Resort, Hokkaido, Japan

Lobby art at Lake Akan Tsuruga Wings Resort

Soaking in the Hot Springs

One of the highlights of a stay in the Lake Akan region is a relaxing soak in an onsen, or traditional hot springs bath. The hotel complex has several onsen options, which are segregated by gender, as bathing is done in the nude.

There are smaller onsen in the “Wings” building, as well as more spacious baths on the first and eighth floors in the adjacent hotel. The latter two onsen alternate between male and female use, switching on odd or even days. Before you enter, be sure to check the schedule and note the sign (in English) indicating whose turn it is to bathe where!

Both of the large onsen include multiple soaking tubs of different temperatures, saunas and steam facilities, along with areas for showering, washing, and dressing. The first-floor baths feature outdoor, rock-lined pools where you can soak overlooking the lake, particularly refreshing during the winter months, when the chill air contrasts with the hot water. The eighth-floor tub area offers broader lake views.

Guest room, Lake Akan Tsuruga Wings Resort, Hokkaido, Japan

Guest room, Lake Akan Tsuruga Wings Resort

Guest Rooms and Amenities

Lake Akan Tsuruga Wings Resort offers a number of different rooms types, with the lakeside units pricier than the rooms looking toward town or the surrounding hills.

The largest, which the property describes as the “d

The “Japanese twin rooms” are furnished with beds on low platforms, set on a tatami floor, along with a sitting area with a low sofa next to the windows.

Furnished with tatami mats and a traditional low table, the “

Amenities common to all the rooms include Wi-Fi, LCD TVs, tea kettles (with tea and instant coffee provided), mini-fridges, and safes.

Each guest can choose to don Japanese-style loungewear known as samue, stocked along with slippers in the guest room closet, to walk to the onsen or use as pajamas. Some guests turned up for breakfast in their samue as well. Mesh bags for carrying your towels or other onsen or sauna supplies are also provided.

Breakfast tray, Lake Akan Tsuruga Wings Resort, Hokkaido, Japan

Sampling Japanese breakfast items


The main dining room serving both Tsuruga Wings and its sister property is an expansive lakeview space, offering elaborate buffet meals at breakfast and dinner. The space is so large, in fact, that the restaurant provides a laminated map, detailing where you’ll find different foods. While the dining area can feel a little chaotic, the food is varied and delicious. 

The largest section offers Japanese dishes, which range from grilled fish, tofu, soups, rice, and a variety of fresh and pickled vegetables in the mornings to fresh sushi, stews, more grilled fish and meats, plus even more vegetable options in the evenings.

Another section serves up stir fried dishes, noodles, dumplings, and other Chinese-style options, while the “western food” counters are stocked with pastries, yogurt, fruits, and eggs at breakfast along with dishes like spaghetti at dinner. There’s even a separate kids’ area with additional options for the youngsters. You can help yourself to teas, coffee, juices, and sodas, and the bar menu includes Japanese beer and many choices of sake.

A fun touch: Robot carts cruise the dining room whisking away dirty dishes.

Dining room, Lake Akan Tsuruga Wings Resort, Hokkaido, Japan

The dining room is so large, they provide a map.

Nature Adventures

Another highlight of a stay at Lake Akan Tsuruga Wings Resort are the nature adventures that the resort offers. Based on the hotel’s main floor, Tsuruga Adventure Base SIRI runs a series of outdoor activities that enable you to explore the area’s natural environment.

During the warmer months, you might hike through the nearby forests or to the bokke, mud “volcanoes” that bubble up from the ground. You can also try nordic walking or take a guided trek to one of the local mountains.

In winter, you might spot deer as you snowshoe through the woods, go ski touring to a secluded waterfall, or watch the sunrise — as we did — on an early morning walk across the frozen lake.

In any season, there will be coffee and tea, and when you return to the resort, a peaceful soak in the onsen. Now that’s my idea of Hokkaido bliss.

Ski touring, Lake Akan Tsuruga Wings Resort, Hokkaido, Japan

On a ski touring adventure near Lake Akan

Getting There

Lake Akan is located in eastern Hokkaido, roughly 300 kilometers (185 miles) from Sapporo, Hokkaido’s largest city. The hotel can assist guests in arranging transportation from Sapporo or from elsewhere around the region.


Rates at Lake Akan Tsuruga Wings Resort vary with the season, starting at about US$125 per person for packages including accommodations, breakfast, dinner, and use of the hot springs. You can book your stay through Note that as of April 2024, the hotel is officially merging with the sister property, Akan Yuku No Sato Tsuruga, which shares the same location and amenities. This property is also on if you choose to go there instead.


Hotel feature by Vancouver-based travel, food, and feature writer Carolyn B. Heller. Photos © Carolyn B. Heller. JTB Corp. Hokkaido Branch, in partnership with Lake Akan Tsuruga Wings Resort, hosted my stay and nature adventures for review purposes.

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