3 ways to enjoy Lake Shikotsu



Introduction of Shikotsuko

Shikotsuko is a lake in Chitose City, Hokkaido, but it is the northernmost “non-freezing lake” in Japan, where the surface of the lake does not freeze even in the severe winter season.
Although the maximum depth is 360m, this is the second deepest lake in Japan after Lake Tazawa in Akita Prefecture.
The water level of Lake Shikotsu is 247m, so the deep part is 110m lower than the sea level.
Thanks to its depth, the deep water is warm and the surface of the lake seems to be hard to freeze.
Because it is so deep, it has the second largest amount of water in the country after Lake Biwa.

A large eruption occurred about 44,000 years ago, and the Shikotsu caldera was formed.
It is the second largest caldera lake in Japan after Lake Kussharo.


The water quality of Lake Shikotsu is as high as that of Lake Mashu and Lake Baikal.
In this way, Lake Shikotsu, which belongs to Shikotsu-Toya National Park, is not only scenic, but also a very rare freshwater lake in Japan.

Shikotsuko Sightseeing

It is about 32km from New Chitose Airport and about 40 minutes by car rental, making it an easy place to visit in Hokkaido.IMG_3779_201912

The main sightseeing boat for Lake Shikotsu is an underwater sightseeing course.
It is a 50-passenger underwater ship, and the bottom bottom is 2m deep and you can see the water from the window.
Under the surface of the lake, there is a scenic cliff-like scene called the “columnar joint”.
At the time of caldera generation, natural aesthetic beauty is found in the lake of Lake Shikotsu, with the cracks formed when the magma is cooled and contracted rapidly.


Therefore, when you get on board, it is better to start at the bottom first.
If you go deeper, you will not be able to see anything underwater. Then, move to the observation deck and enjoy the scenery around Lake Shikotsu.
However, since the ship will sail in a shallow place as it approaches the pier, you can go to the bottom of the ship again if you enter “The water is beautiful” on the broadcast.
If the wind is strong, the flight will be canceled.IMG_3776_201912Another way to enjoy Lake Shikotsu.

First, walk to the lakeside from the paid parking lot of Shikotsuko Onsen, you will find the Shikotsuko Visitor Center.

Shikotsuko Visitor Center

The Lake Shikotsu Visitor Center is a building of the Ministry of the Environment, and it introduces the state of the volcano, the ecology of living creatures around Lake Shikotsu, the world in the lake, etc. with the theme of traveling around Lake Shikotsu.
IMG_3774_201912Admission is free, it’s a little museum, and it’s indoors so it’s okay if it rains or snows.


Please drop in if you have a break.


The next highlight is the Yamasen Railway Bridge.

Mountain Line Iron Bridge

The Yamabetsu Railway Bridge is the oldest existing bridge in Hokkaido, hung on the Chitose River that flows from Lake Shikotsu.


In the old days, the railway was laid mainly for freight transportation called the “Oji Light Railway”.
The pulp factory “Oji Paper” in Tomakomai is a railway that was laid for transporting timber by cutting down its own hydroelectric power plant and forest around Lake Shikotsu.
A small steam locomotive towed a freight car, and it took about 24 kilometers to connect to Lakeside Station on Lake Shikotsu in about 1 hour 45 minutes.


After that, passenger transport seems to have started, but because it was a poor railway, it is said that there was a statement on the back of the ticket that “life is not guaranteed”.
When the Pacific War ended, the road to Lake Shikotsu opened, and the car track was earlier, about 1 hour, so the Oji Light Railroad was abolished in 1951.


The mountain railway on Lake Shikotsu is a double wrench bridge made in England with a 200ft pin structure.


It was not originally here, but in 1899 (Meiji 32), it was the first Sorachi River bridge in the Sorachi River between Sunagawa Station and Takigawa Station on the Hokkaido Government Railway / Kamikawa Line (Hakodate Main Line).
After that, around 1923 (Taisho 12), it will be called an iron bridge that was relocated to the shore of Lake Shikotsu as a bridge of the Oji Light Railway from the replacement.
Currently it is popular as a bridge for pedestrians and bicycles.


It is certified as a modernized industrial heritage by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and a recommended civil engineering heritage by the Japan Society of Civil Engineers.

There are relatively many restaurants and souvenir shops in the hot spring area of ​​Lake Shikotsu.


Transportation to Lake Shikotsu

Traffic access and directions to Lake Shikotsu are as follows for trains and buses.

From Chitose Station on the JR Chitose Line, take the Hokkaido Chuo Bus bound for “Shikotsuko” (3rd stop) and get off at the last stop “Shikotsuko” bus stop.

From New Chitose Airport, take the Hokkaido Chuo Bus bound for “Shikotsuko" (Domestic 28, International 66) and get off at the last stop “Shikotsuko" bus stop.

In the case of a car, it takes 30 km from New Chitose Airport via Route 36 and Route 16 and takes approximately 40 minutes.
Map of Lake Shikotsu