Time Required: 2 h 52 min. Distance: 124 km
This course takes you on a drive through the forests of Mashu and the town of Kiyosato, where the farmlands of Hokkaido spread across the landscape. You will also be able to enjoy the Kaminoko Pond area, which was recently added to the national park. Starting from the Mashu Onsen Roadside Station and heading north, visit the tourist information center at Kiyoru in Kiyosato to get information on the area. While you are here, take a free tour of the potato shochu distillery as well. Stop by Papas Land Sattsuru Roadside Station to soak in a relaxing bath at its day-visit hot spring facility and then head for Kaminoko Pond in the forest, where the walking path allows you to circle the mystic blue waters of the pond. The next destination is Ura-Mashu Observatory, which is located on the northeastern side of the lake. This viewing point gives you yet another outlook, different from Observatory 1 and 3 on the west side. Complete the trail by returning to where you started at Mashu Onsen Roadside Station.
At the base of the Shiretoko Peninsula, Kiyosato town is famous for growing potatoes and at the shochu distillery, you can take a free tour to see how potato shochu is made. The shochu made here can be purchased at the neighboring Kiyoru Information Center. At Kiyoru, you can enjoy a view of Mt. Sharidake from the spacious hall or café, as well as try udon noodles and pizza made with local wheat flour. The information desk offers all kinds of recommendations, even advice about moving to the area.
An old tale says that this little pond was formed by underground water from Lake Mashu. In the Ainu language, Lake Mashu was called Kamuinto ("lake of the gods") and by extension, the pond was named Kaminoko-ike ("child of the gods pond”). Although Kaminoko Pond is five meters deep, it is so clear you can see all the way to the bottom, allowing you to watch fish swimming around in its waters. Other unique characteristics of this pond are water temperatures that remain cold year-round, as well as trees that fall in, sink to the bottom and won't decay.
Observatories 1 and 3 in the town of Teshikaga are on the western rim of the Mashu Caldera, while Ura-Mashu Observatory is on the opposite, northeastern rim. It was named Ura-Mashu, meaning "the opposite side of Mashu", due to its location. Since it is situated at a lower elevation than the other two observatories, the notorious lake fog rarely shows up here, allowing you to gaze over the mystic surface of the water.