Lake Toya is one of Hokkaido's most popular tourist destinations. There is so much to see, including hot springs, which is why it is crowded year round with tourists from all over Japan and abroad. This article introduces some recommended spots to visit around the area.
What is Lake Toya?
Lake Toya is a crater lake that can be found in southwestern Hokkaido. Possessing incredibly clear waters, it is a round lake with a diameter of about 10km. It is surrounded by majestic scenery created by the grand nature of Hokkaido, including volcanic mountains like Showa-shinzan and Mt. Usu. It is about 1.5 hours by train from New Chitose Airport and about 2 hours and 10 minutes by car from Sapporo. Conveniently located, it is easy to visit other tourist destinations like Otaru, Hakodate, and Niseko from there.
Hokkaido Shikotsu-Toya National Park Silo Observatory
Located along the national road on the west bank of Lake Toya, this is a wonderful spot to see the lake from. You’ll get a panoramic view of Lake Toya shimmering blue with the smoking volcanic mountains of Showa-shinzan and Mt. Usu in the background. It makes for a great picture! The observatory has a gift shop where you can purchase standard Hokkaido souvenirs, as well as original products. Many tourists also take a break at the restaurant there.
Another appeal of Lake Toya is the opportunity to enjoy relaxing ferry rides with a view of the beautiful lake and mountains. On the lake, you’ll find islands like Benten-jima - an island with a shrine dedicated to the matchmaking deity, Benten - and Kannon-jima, which has a temple dedicated to the deity of economic fortune, Kannon. Between late April and the last day of October, the ferry stops at Naka-jima - in the middle of the lake - for 30 minutes. Naka-jima is a nature-rich island covered with virgin forests where you may be able to see Hokkaido spotted deer or swans.
Fare: 1,420 JPY/adult, 710 JPY/child (both incl. tax)
This is a ropeway that connects a station at the foot of Showa-shinzan with one at the top of Mt. Usu. It takes six minutes one way. On the ride, there is a 360-degree panoramic view of the surrounding nature, including Uchiura Bay, Mt. Yotei, Lake Toya, and Showa-shinzan. The Usu Crater Basin Observation Deck, which can be accessed through a path at the top of the mountain, is a popular spot to see the basin that was created by the 1977 eruption. It is a powerful scene thanks to the steam that’s still pouring out.
Regular fare (round trip): 1,600 JPY/adult, 800 JPY/elementary school age (both incl. tax)
Toyako Visitor Center Volcanic Science Museum
This is a facility that displays information about Lake Toya and volcanoes. There are free exhibits of the flora, fauna, nature in the surrounding areas. The Volcanic Science Museum next door has information regarding nearby volcanoes. At this museum, you can learn about the volcanic activities of Mt. Usu, which has erupted numerous times, such as in 1977 and 2000, through videos and experiential equipment. The huge 3-sided screen that shows scenes from these eruptions is particularly powerful.
Entrance fee for the Volcanic Science Museum (donation): 600 JPY/adult, 300 JPY/elementary and junior high school students
Lake Toya’s shore is famous for its hot spring town that contains some of the best hotels and ryokan (traditional Japanese inns) in Hokkaido. Thanks to the volcanoes, there is ample hot spring water. What’s interesting about this hot spring water is that it has a murky amber color! There are many hot springs for day visitors, including foot baths and regular baths. These baths are wonderful places to relax and enjoy the view of the beautiful lake and mountains. In addition, the Toyako Long-run Fireworks are held between the end of April to the end of October every year, offering wonderful views of fireworks shot up from a boat on the lake, lighting up the lake and evening sky.
There is much more to see and do around Lake Toya, such as canoeing and horse trekking, so take a trip and find out for yourself!
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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