Lake Shikotsu [支笏湖]
Lake Shikotsu and Mt.Eniwa
Lake Shikotsu in winter
Lake Shikotsu ("Shikotsu-ko" in Japanese) is a freshwater caldera lake located about 25 km west of Shin-Chitose Airport, and is also about 35 km just south of Sapporo.
It has about 14 km from east to west and 10 km from north to south in width.
And its shore langth is about 40 km.
The average depth is 265 meters.
It is the second-deepest lake in Japan. (The deepest lake is Lake Tazawa in Tohoku region.)
Because the volume of water is relatively much, this lake doesn't freeze in winter.
There are three active volcanos near this lake.
On the north side, there is the Mount Eniwa (1320 m).
On the south side, there are Mount Fuppushi (1102 m) and Mount Tarumae (1041 m).
Lake Shikotsu was formed by eruption of these volcanos about 40 thousand years ago.
Outdoor onsen at the lakeside
Sunset at Lake Shikotsu
There is a visitor center on the eastern coast, and some hot spring hotels are located at that area.
Sightseeing boats leave from here.
(They are operated from the middle of April to early November.)
And only a few hot spring hotels are around the vistor center and on the northern coast of the lake.
We can find few houses along the other coast, and there are some camp sites in places.
Hyoto Matsuri in the evening
Because there are few rivers that flow into the lake and few people live around the lake, the water of this lake is the purest in Japan.
From late January to the middle of February, Hyôtô Matsuri (Lake Shikotsu Blue Festival) is held.
Many artistic objects of ice made of pure water of this lake are displayed.
The objects appears to be blue in color during the daytime, and are illuminated with colorful lights.
How to get here
By route bus, about 1 hour from JR Shin-Chitose Airport station.
And, from the middle of June to the middle of October, the route bus is operated from JR Sapporo station. (About 1.5 hours)