Each year during the winter months, Hokkaido's Lake Shikotsu Ice Festival brings a dose of colorful magic to this corner of..
Lake Shikotsu is a popular outdoors spot in Shikotsu-Toya National Park. Compared to nearby Lake Toya, Lake Shikotsu is less developed and offers wonderful opportunities to explore its unspoiled nature. This caldera lake formed due to volcanic activity and is the second deepest lake in Japan. The clear blue waters, surrounded by a lush mountainscape, mirror the expansive sky and shine in every season.
During the warmer months, the lake is a lovely place to hike, BBQ, paddle boat, kayak, canoe, bike, and fish (specifically red salmon and trout). Its natural beauty also makes it a perfect camping spot. Camp at Morappu on the lake’s eastern shore or Bifue on the opposite side and fall asleep to the sound of lapping water. The lake is also home to a number of small hot spring spots where you can relax during any season.
Located on the lake’s eastern shore, Shikotsu Kohan is a small, tourist-centered town complete with a visitors center. From here, you can rent boats or bicycles and also join a sightseeing cruise to enjoy up-close views of the serene area.
Marukoma Onsen rests on Lake Shikotsu’s northern banks and is both a ryokan and hot spring spot for day visitors. The onsen’s open-air baths, which are situated along the lake’s coast, act as extensions of the lake and have rustic stone appearances.
Mount Tarumae is the lake’s main mountain and offers great hiking opportunities. From its summit, which is a short, but steep hike, you are treated to magnificent panoramas of Lake Shikotsu and the surrounding nature.
Lake Shikotsu Ice Festival is an annual event that takes place from the end of January to mid-February at Shikotsu Kohan. The lively celebration includes ice sculptures, an ice rink, an ice slide, and magical nightly illuminations.
The best way to travel to Lake Shikotsu is via car. Bus travel is also possible, but may have limited departure times and outreach to certain areas. From Sapporo Station, the car ride is about one hour; from New Chitose Airport, it is about 45-50 minutes. You can also opt to take a bus from New Chitose Airport to Shikotsu Kohan. These buses depart about 4 to 6 times a day and take about 50 minutes to an hour.
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