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  • Writer's picturePhillip Radcliffe

Lake Shikaribetsu

(Japanese Translation below)

By Hikaru Ohmura

Lake Shikaribetsu is the only natural lake in Taisetsuzan Natural Park and is the highest lake in Hokkaido. It is located in the town of Shikaoi, near the city of Obihiro. The elevation is 804 meters above sea level. The reason why it is located on a mountain is because the lake was created by volcanic activity about 6,000 to 10,000 years ago that created the surrounding mountains and stopped the flow of the river. Here you can enjoy various activities, hot springs, and camping. This article will show you how to enjoy the four seasons at Lake Shikaribetsu.

First of all, there is the Shikaribetsu-kotan, which is the most famous event at Lake Shikaribetsu. Shikaribetsu-kotan is a fantastic village made entirely of ice and snow on Lake Shikaribetsu in winter when it is completely frozen over. You can enjoy yourself in the winter with an open-air bath on ice, an ice lodge where you can stay for the night, and an ice bar with beautiful ice decorations.

The Ohgigahara Observatory offers spectacular views throughout the year. The magnificent Tokachi Plain, the third largest plain in Japan, and the Hidaka Mountains, which were created by tectonic plate collisions, can be viewed from the top of the mountain. A sea of clouds can sometimes be seen early in the morning in June and July. In good weather, you can even see as far as the Pacific Ocean. There are also no streetlights around, so you can see the wonderful starry sky.

You can cool off in a beautiful forest during the hot summer. The mountains around Lake Shikaribetsu contain one of the largest wind hole areas in Japan, with wind holes scattered in a number of locations. Wind holes are holes that blow cold wind even in summer. 

In summer and fall, when you reach into the crevices of the rocks in the wind hole area, you can clearly feel the cold air blowing out. The wind hole blows cool air about 2 degrees centigrade when it is low, even in midsummer. In addition, ice remains at the back of the wind hole as the source of the cold air. This cool air and moisture create a beautiful moss forest.

There are many other attractions as well. If you visit, you can go trekking, canoeing, fishing, and bathe in hot springs while enjoying the view of Lake Shikaribetsu. Seeing wildlife while trekking is one of the attractions. Among wildlife that inhabit the Lake Shikaribetsu area are the pika (a rabbit-like animal) and the Miyabe char (bull trout), which can only live in a well-protected environment. More to the point, Miyabe char are only found in Lake Shikaribetsu. Be aware, however, that there are only 50 days a year when the fishing ban is lifted, so be sure to check before you go.

Lake Shikaribetsu is a wilderness. Nature is enjoyable if you follow the rules, but if you break the rules, you put yourself and nature at risk. Please make careful preparations before visiting Lake Shikaribetsu.



大村 輝









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