Lake Shikotsu



支笏湖Lake Shikotsu (Shikotsuko) is located in the Shikotsu–Toya national park. This lake as with Lake Toya, is a caldera lake, which was formed from collapses in the earth after volcanic activity.  It has an average depth of 265 metres (869 feet) and a maximum depth of 363 metres (1,191 feet), making it the second deepest lake in Japan. It is encircled by mountains. One being the active volcano, Mount Tarumae, which last erupted in 1981. Most of Shikotsuko is little developed except for Shikotsu Kohan, a small, touristy town with a visitor centre, restaurants, hot springs and a small number of lodgings along the lake’s western shores. 

Lake Shikotsuko CampingFrom here you can rent paddle boats, bicycles and scuba gear to explore the crystal clear waters of Shikotsu. Sightseeing cruises of the lake are offered in glass bottomed boats from mid April to early November. In summer there are camping grounds on the Western and Northern banks and is a great place to camp and relax by the calm waters, have a BBQ, light fireworks and swim in the fresh waters. Hiking is also popular and if you have access to a car you can get to the trailhead of Mount Tarumae. The mountain can be climbed in a steep but short ascent in less than an hour. It is not permitted to enter the crater of Mount Tarumae due to poisonous gases though you can trek around the crater which takes about 2 hours. At the top, the mountain offers impressive views of the deserted crater landscape and over Lake Shikotsuko.

On the northern shore stands MARUKAMA ONSEN.  This inn is open to guests and to non-staying visitors.  The hots springs are located right on the lake waters and offer a relaxing warm bath while enjoying the outside air and beautiful lake views. Conventional hot spring pools are also inside which are gender separated. On the southern shore Morappu Campsite, is located.

Hours and Fees
Marukoma Onsen (for non-staying guests)
HOURS 10:00 to 15:00
COST   1000 yen

Another site of interest is KOKE NO DOMON or MOSS CANYNON. This gulley with a rich variety of plant life lining its walls is located 10 kilometres south of the lake. There is a platform from which to view this moss covered gulley.

Koke no Domon Moss Canyon
HOURS 9:00 to 17:00 (entry until 16:00)
CLOSED  Late October to early June

To get to Shikotsu Lake from Sapporo follow highway 453. This takes about 40 minutes. . In the summer, there is also a bus from Sapporo Terminal. From the New Chitose Airport, it takes about one hour. There are four to six buses daily. It takes about one hour and costs ¥1030. Buses will also stop at Chitose station on the way. It takes about 45 minutes and ¥930 to get from Chitose Station to the lake.

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Hokkaido Guide contributor and editor. Keen photographer with a love of travel, the great outdoors and all things Hokkaido, Japan. Matt Holloway is a professional photographer and holds exhibitions around Sapporo, Hokkaido and Sydney Australia.