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Regions of Japan

Hokkaido Tohoku Hokuriku
Shinetsu
Kanto Tokai Kansai Chugoku Shikoku Kyushu Okinawa Islands SAPPORO TOKYO NAGOYA OSAKA FUKUOKA FURANO KUSHIRO AOMORI SENDAI FUKUSHIMA NIKKO HAKONE SADO TAKAYAMA KANAZAWA ISE KYOTO NARA HIROSHIMA NAGASAKI KAGOSHIMA NAHA
Hokkaido
Hokkaido
  • Hokkaido
Japan's great white north offers wild, white winters and bountiful summers—a haven for dedicated foodies, nature lovers and outdoor adventure fans seeking an adrenaline rush Japan's great white north offers wild, white winters and bountiful summers—a haven for dedicated foodies, nature lovers and outdoor adventure fans seeking an adrenaline rush
Tohoku
Tohoku
  • Aomori
  • Akita
  • Iwate
  • Yamagata
  • Miyagi
  • Fukushima
Fearsome festivals, fresh powder snow and vast fruit orchards—the rugged territory of Tohoku offers a new perspective on travel in Japan Fearsome festivals, fresh powder snow and vast fruit orchards—the rugged territory of Tohoku offers a new perspective on travel in Japan
Hokuriku Shinetsu
Hokuriku Shinetsu
  • Niigata
  • Toyama
  • Ishikawa
  • Fukui
  • Nagano
An easily accessible slice of rural Japan offering unrivaled mountainscapes and coastlines, endless outdoor adventure and amazing ocean fare An easily accessible slice of rural Japan offering unrivaled mountainscapes and coastlines, endless outdoor adventure and amazing ocean fare
Kanto
Kanto
  • Tokyo
  • Kanagawa
  • Chiba
  • Saitama
  • Ibaraki
  • Tochigi
  • Gunma
Jump from the neon glow of Tokyo to Gunma's mountain retreats, Kamakura's cultural heritage and the Ogasawara Islands' exotic wildlife Jump from the neon glow of Tokyo to Gunma's mountain retreats, Kamakura's cultural heritage and the Ogasawara Islands' exotic wildlife
Tokai
Tokai
  • Yamanashi
  • Shizuoka
  • Gifu
  • Aichi
  • Mie
Hallmark attractions such as Mt. Fuji and Takayama coexist with major cities and famous heritage in the center of Japan Hallmark attractions such as Mt. Fuji and Takayama coexist with major cities and famous heritage in the center of Japan
Kansai
Kansai
  • Kyoto
  • Osaka
  • Shiga
  • Hyogo
  • Nara
  • Wakayama
The Kansai region is one of contrasts, from the glittering lights of Osaka and Kobe to the cultural treasures of Kyoto and Nara The Kansai region is one of contrasts, from the glittering lights of Osaka and Kobe to the cultural treasures of Kyoto and Nara
Chugoku
Chugoku
  • Tottori
  • Shimane
  • Okayama
  • Hiroshima
  • Yamaguchi
Welcome to Japan's less-explored western frontier, where the weather is warmer and the pace of life is slower Welcome to Japan's less-explored western frontier, where the weather is warmer and the pace of life is slower
Shikoku
Shikoku
  • Tokushima
  • Kagawa
  • Ehime
  • Kochi
Island-hopping, cycling, soul-warming spiritual strolling and red-hot dancing—the island of Shikoku gets you up and moving Island-hopping, cycling, soul-warming spiritual strolling and red-hot dancing—the island of Shikoku gets you up and moving
Kyushu
Kyushu
  • Fukuoka
  • Saga
  • Nagasaki
  • Oita
  • Kumamoto
  • Miyazaki
  • Kagoshima
The southern island of Kyushu is home to hot springs, rugged geography, undeveloped beaches and volcanoes ranging from sleepy to smoky The southern island of Kyushu is home to hot springs, rugged geography, undeveloped beaches and volcanoes ranging from sleepy to smoky
Okinawa
Okinawa
  • Okinawa
Fly to Okinawa and discover a distinct island culture born of subtropical sun, white sand, coral, mangrove jungles and the age of the Ryukyu Kings Fly to Okinawa and discover a distinct island culture born of subtropical sun, white sand, coral, mangrove jungles and the age of the Ryukyu Kings

Nature

Lake Shikotsu 支笏湖

This all-season outdoor sports haven for campers, cyclists, kayakers, and others also offers open-air onsen

Any time of year is the right time to visit Sapporo's Lake Shikotsu. Located beyond the hills south of the city, it's a popular destination in its own right as well as a stopping point on the way to many other places.

Don't Miss

  • Camping and cooking out by the lake
  • A village made of ice
  • Lake views from a nearby peak

How to Get There

Outside of Sapporo, Lake Shikotsu is best accessed by car or bus.

The Lake Shikotsu area is about an hour south of Sapporo over the hills or slightly longer if you come via Chitose. It is 30 minutes west of New Chitose Airport and 30 minutes north of Tomakomai. In recent times, it has also become a popular spot for cycling tours or extended day trips on a road bike.

Hot spring in your step

Most of the Lake Shikotsu area is relatively undeveloped, but on the northern and eastern sides of the lake are a number of hot spring hotels. Relaxing in an outdoor onsen right next to the lake is a highlight. Hotels have good package deals with meals included. Be sure to check bath times for visitors if you are not staying at the hotel.

The ice village

The Lake Shikotsu Ice Festival takes place each year from the end of January to the middle of February. It is based at Shikotsu Kohan on the eastern side of the lake. Sculptures and a wide range of structures are made by spraying water from the lake over frames. Once it gets dark, the event is lit up with colorful lights. Slip and slide around a rink or down an ice slide. Afterward, warm up in a nearby hotel hot spring.

Pitch a tent

On the southern and western sides of the lake are two well-appointed campsites — Morappu and Bifue. Set up your tent and enjoy the stillness of the lake and sounds of nature at night. Sunsets and sunrises are stunning at Lake Shikotsu. Cook and enjoy the water, and cast in a line if you fancy a spot of fishing.

See the sights by bicycle

With many towns nearby, the lake has become a destination for cycle tourists and day-trippers. For the adventurous, the hills roll back toward Sapporo and Niseko. There are also very safe and well-used cycle roads that lead from the lake to Chitose and to Tomakomai. Compared to the hills, the cycle roads are an easy option and are set safely away from traffic.

Take to the water

Boat tours run from the hotel side of the lake. Whether you want a guided cruise or to pedal in a swan-boat, you're sure to have fun. Kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding has become popular, but the equipment is not available to rent at the lake. Instead, visitors can find rentals at outdoor specialists in Sapporo or Niseko. The lake is deep and can be very cold, so dress warm and always be safe on the water.

Hiking high and low

There are a number of peaks surrounding the lake that you can climb. For an easy hike, consider Mt. Tarumae and its lava dome. Another option is Mt. Monbetsu. If you want to extend the Tarumae hike, you can easily head on to Mt. Fuppushi. From there, visitors can walk directly back to the lake. Mount Eniwa on the northern side of the lake is a slightly longer and steeper climb, though the views of the area are worth the effort.

Watching the birds

The Lake Shikotsu area offers plenty of opportunities to see birds. For the best bird-watching, head to the Shikotsu Wild Bird Nature Path. It's just south of the old rail bridge on the east side of the lake near Shikotsu Kohan. The path winds near the lake and up the small Mount Kimunmorappu. On your way back to Chitose, check out the bird-watching-themed cafes.

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