Get a firsthand look at the fiery volcanoes that created the islands of Japan at Mt Tarumae. This particularly active volcano rises from the shore of Lake Shikotsu in Western Hokkaido and provides an easy and popular hiking trail that lead to the top, where you can explore the rim of the crater.
It takes about half an hour to reach the crater itself and a couple hours to explore the rim, including Higashi-dake, which is the highest point and offers spectacular views of the lake below. As you explore, don’t be tempted to venture inside the crater itself; noxious gases fill the caldera around a growing and unstable lava dome that has grown so high that it rises above the edge of the crater.
The best time to hike Mt Tarumae in Shikotsu-Toya National Park is during the summer—from mid April to late November—when the slopes are not covered with snow. To get there, take the bus from Sapporo to Lake Shikotsu, and then take a taxi to the trailhead.