Located in southwest Hokkaido, close to Sapporo, Lake Shikotsu is the second-deepest lake and second-largest caldera lake in Japan. Surrounded by volcanoes on all sides, the lake is a popular recreation area for locals and visitors looking to enjoy the outdoors, wildlife, hot springs, and beautiful scenery.
There are many ways to enjoy Lake Shikotsu. Go bird-watching at Shikotsu Wild Bird Nature Path or the Yacho-no-Mori bird sanctuary. During the summer, popular activities include fishing, boating, snorkeling, scuba diving, kayaking, hiking, cycling, and camping. During the winter, popular activities include snowmobiling, snow rafting, and sledding. Hot springs (onsen) can be enjoyed year-round.
Visit independently or as part of a guided hiking, mountain biking, snow-activity, or Ice Festival tour to Lake Shikotsu. Visitors looking to explore more of the area can join a guided tour with additional stops at Lake Toya and the Toya-Usu UNESCO Global Geopark.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Lake Shikotsu is ideal for nature lovers, outdoor enthusiasts, and adventure travelers.
- Don’t forget your camera to capture stunning vistas around the lake.
- Onsen hotels around the lake are open to nonguests.
- Be sure to dress appropriately for the weather and activity.
How to Get There
Lake Shikotsu is located inside Shikotsu-Toya National Park, about 27 miles (43 kilometers) south of Sapporo and 25 miles (40 kilometers) west of New Chitose Airport. For those not visiting as part of a tour, it’s easiest to get there and around by car. By public transport, take the train from Sapporo to Chitose Station, then transfer to a bus to Lake Shikotsu. Buses are also available from New Chitose Airport.
When to Get There
When to visit Lake Shikotsu depends on which activities you want to do. Several popular festivals take place nearby, including the Lake Shikotsu Festival in late July, the Lake Shikotsu Autumn Leaves Festival in early October, and the Lake Shikotsu Ice Festival in late January to mid-February.
Lake Shikotsu Ice Festival
Every year, water from Lake Shikotsu is sprayed to create stunning ice sculptures, which are lit at night, for the Lake Shikotsu Ice Festival. In addition, the festival includes a variety of activities such as ice skating, sledding, and tubing. On weekends and public holidays, there are additional special events, including drumming performances and fireworks displays.