Japan’s clearest lake Shikotsu-ko (支笏湖), in the eastern part of Shikotsu-Toya National Park, is plunges as deep as 363m. This mysterious lake is never freeze in winter and its convenient access from New Chitose Airport. Shikotsuko Onsen (支笏湖温泉), the charming village on the eastern shore, has accommodation, shops and restaurants.
Highlights Sightseeing Boat, Marukoma Onsen
Tourist Information & Bike Rentals Lake Shikotsu Visitor Center (see below)
01 VISITOR CENTER
Lake Shikotsu Visitor Center
支笏湖ビジターセンター / 9am-5.30pm Apr-Nov, 9.30am-4.30pm Dec-Mar / Closed Tue Dec-Mar / FREE / shikotsukovc.sakura.ne.jp
On the lake shore of Shikotsuko Onsen, this visitor center has an informative exhibition of nature and ecosystem with a short film. You can rent a bike (1-day ¥500 / deposit ¥2000) and excursion to its surrounding area. A birdwatcher’s trail starts from the nearby century-old Yamasen Railway Bridge.
Lake Shikotsu Sightseeing Boat
支笏湖観光船 / 8.40am-5.10pm mid Apr-early Nov / ¥1620 / www.shikotsu-ship.co.jp
A 30-minute circuit lake cruise departs from Shikotsuko Onsen. Enjoy the clear bottom of a lake on the boat.
03 ONSEN & SLEEPING
Marukoma Onsen Ryokan
丸駒温泉旅館 / Tel 0123-25-2341 / 7 Horobinai / Day bathing 10am-3pm / Day bathing ¥1000 / www.marukoma.co.jp
Founded in 1915 at the northern shore of the lake, the secret Marukoma Onsen has two pleasant open-air baths: super panoramic bath and calm rocky bath. Hot water quality is perfect. It offers higaeri nyuyoku (day bathing; 日帰り入浴 11am-3.30pm / ¥1000) and lunch for nonguests. King of Sweden stayed here in 1990.
04 ICE FESTIVAL
Shikotsuko Ice Festival: Hyoto Matsuri
氷濤まつり / 9am-10pm last Fri of Jan-mid Feb / ¥300 / hyoutou-special.asia
Held at the lakeside of Shikotsuko Onsen in mid-winter, Hyoto Matsuri boasts the blue ice sculptures such as caves and mountains. They are lit up with colorful lights at night.
Chuo Bus 3 runs from New Chitose Airport to Shikotsuko Onsen (50min / ¥1050) via Chitose Station (40min / ¥950) on the JR Chitose Line.