Lake Shikotsu

Lake Shikotsu

Travel Guide

Part of the Shikotsu-Toya National Park, Lake Shikotsu is a caldera lake surrounded by picturesque volcanoes, located in southwestern Hokkaido, west of the city of Chitose, known for its cystal clear water and beautiful view of the mountains, and popular for fishing, boating, canoeing, diving, bird watching, cycling, remains unfrozen even throughout Hokkaido's harsh winter.

Most of Lake Shikotsu is little developed except for Shikotsu Kohan, a small, touristy town with a visitor center and a small number of lodgings along the lake's western shores. From there, visitors can rent boats, bicycles or scuba gear to enjoy the natural surroundings. Sightseeing cruises of the lake are offered in glass bottomed boats and in speed boats from mid April to early November.

Moss Canyon (苔の洞門, Koke no Domon) is another site of interest in the area. Located ten kilometers south of Shikotsu Kohan, Moss Canyon is a gulley with a rich variety of plant life lining its walls. There are said to be over twenty types of moss alone. Visitors cannot actually enter the gulley, but there is an observation platform from which it can be viewed.

Lake Shikotsu is encircled by mountains, one of which is Mountain Tarumae-san. Tarumae ranks among Japan's most active volcanoes and most recently erupted in 1982. The mountain can be climbed in a steep but short ascent in less than an hour and offers impressive views of the deserted crater landscape and over Lake Shikotsu. It is also possible to circle the crater in about two hours, but due to poisonous gases it is not allowed to enter the crater. The trailhead is difficult to access without a rental car.

Around the lake spread the virgin forests of broadleaf trees and conifer trees, keeping the lake transparent and tranquil. There are also three campsites around the lake.

All buses stop at the tiny village of Shikotsuko Hot Spring, nestled in the woods beside the mouth of the Chitose-gawa River on the east side of the lake, and mercifully free of the multistorey hotels present at Lake Toyako.

Lake Shikotsu is a crater lake that was formed over 40,000 years ago by volcanic activity. It has an average depth of 265 metres (869 ft) and a maximum depth of 363 metres (1,191 ft), making it the second deepest lake in Japan, after Lake Tazawako in Akita. Because of its depth, the water temperature at the bottom remains constant throughout the year, making it the northernmost ice-free lake in Japan. It is an oligotrophic lake with visibility to a depth of 25 meters, and does not freeze in most winters. It is the 8th-largest lake by surface area in Japan and the second largest of Japan's caldera lakes, surpassed only by Lake Kussharo. The caldera formed in the holocene when the land between the volcanos subsided. The Bifue, Okotanpe, Ninaru and Furenai rivers feed into it, and its main outlet is the Chitose River.

The name of Lake Shikotsu derives from the Ainu language shikot, meaning big depression or hollow. To the Japanese, this sounded too much like dead bones (死骨 shikotsu), so they attempted to rename it engi, but this name did not stick.

Lake Shikotsu - Crystal clear Lake Shikotsu - Diving Lake Shikotsu - Beautiful sunset
Crystal clear Diving Beautiful sunset

Travel Advice

Autumn Leaves

Lake Shikotsu is a spot to see autumn leaves. Please see Autum Leaves in Lake Shikotsu.


Events in 2019
Lake Shikotus Autumn Leaves Festival Visitors can enjoy autumn harvest delicacies while viewing the season’s red and yellow leaves. Stalls selling yakitori and lottery tickets line the fairgrounds and 300 cups of miso soup with mushrooms and kokanee salmon are served. Oct 14(Mon)
Events in 2020
Lake Shikotsu Ice Festival Ice sculptures that have a brilliant blue color during the day and are colorfully illuminated at night. Visitors can also enjoy ice slides, horseback riding, food, fireworks displays, ice weddings, free flower service, Japanese drum performances, etc. Jan 24(Fri) to
Feb 16(Sun)
Lake Shikotsuko Festival This fantastic summer festival includes a drum and life band parade, a sunset concert, a ceremony involving floating lanterns on the water, and an evening fireworks display. Jun 27(Sat) and 28(Sun)


Address Chitose-shi, Hokkaido
Phone 0123-25-2404 (Shikotsuko Tourist Center)
Admission Free  
Hours Free time  
Closed Open 7 Days a Week
Duration 15 minutes
Getting There By Train
40 minutes ride by Hokkaido Central Bus bound for Lake Shikotsu from JR Chitose Station to the Lake Shikotsu bus stop, then walk approximately 1 minute.

By Car
Take Hokkaido Expressway to Chitose exit and take National Highway route 36. It is approximately 25 kilometers 40 minutes from exit.
Parking Parking available

Attractions in Japan