Japan’s clearest lake Shikotsu-ko (支笏湖) 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.

Lake Shikotsu Visitor Center

(支笏湖ビジターセンター) 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.

More info shikotsukovc.sakura.ne.jp

Lake Shikotsu Sightseeing Boat

(支笏湖観光船) A 30-minute circuit lake cruise departs from Shikotsuko Onsen. Enjoy the clear bottom of a lake on the boat.

More info www.shikotsu-ship.co.jp

Shikotsuko Ice Festival: Hyoto Matsuri

Held at the lakeside of Shikotsuko Onsen in mid-winter, Hyoto Matsuri (氷濤まつり) boasts the blue ice sculptures such as caves and mountains. They are lit up with colorful lights at night. Weekend fireworks start at 6.30pm.

Getting There

Chuo Bus 3 runs from New Chitose Airport to Shikotsuko Onsen (50min; ¥1050) via JR Chitose Station (40min; ¥950).