East Hokkaido 4: Lake Kussharo || 道東4:屈斜路湖

 

※The recent earthquake was such a disaster in Hokkaido… But amidst the avalanches, broken roads, collapsed houses, the Japanese spirit of resilience to such hardships is amazing and truly shines through. This past summer, I had the chance to visit Hokkaido for the first time. Although visiting Sapporo is arguably the most popular for first-time visitors to Hokkaido, I wanted to explore the much less travelled Eastern Hokkaido, famous locally for its three volcanic lakes, Lake Akan, Lake Mashu, Lake Kussharo, and Mt. Io. In this post, I hope you will enjoy visiting Lake Kussharo with me!

 

北海道の最近の地震は本当に残念なことですねしかし、土砂崩れ、家屋や道路の崩壊があった中、苦難から直ぐに立ち直ろうとする日本の精神は素晴らしいと思います。私は、今夏 初めて北海道を訪れました。札幌は人気がありますが、私が訪れたのは道東の3つの火山湖(阿寒湖摩周湖屈斜路湖)と硫黄山です。 今回は屈斜路湖について書きたいと思います~

 

Lake Kussharo: Bathe in a Sand Onsen!

Lake Kussharo (屈斜路湖, Kussharoko) is the biggest caldera lake (lake formed in a volcanic crater) in Japan. The shore along it is dotted with a hot springs and campgrounds, and an island 12 kilometers in circumference floats in the center.

屈斜路湖: 魅力的な砂湯

 

屈斜路湖は、日本最大のカルデラ湖らしいです。それに海岸には、色んな温泉とキャンプ場があり、中心には12キロの島が浮かんでいます。

 

View of Lake Kussharo from the Bihoro Pass Lookout (美幌峠展望台), up the hill on the western side of the lake – definitely worth the drive up! From the top, you get to see panoramic views of the lake. Beautiful and romantic!

 

美幌峠から眺める雄大な屈斜路湖の風景は必見ですよ!美しかったです!

 

As a result of being situated in a highly volcanic area, both the east and south sides of Lake Kussharo are particularly high in volcanic gases with a number of active sulfurous vents spewing gases and hot water, making for a number of natural hot springs, which are dotted along the perimeter of the banks. The unique “Sand Bath” (砂湯、sunayu) on Lake Kussharo’s bank was the highlight for me!

 

火山地域に位置していますので、屈斜路湖に数多くの天然温泉があります。さて、屈斜路湖へ向かったそもそもの理由は砂湯を体験することです!

 

 

This Sand Bath is a fascinating natural phenomenon! You simply dig into the sand with your hands or feet and hot spring water would come gushing out from deep beneath the bed of sand! The lake water was still very cold even in summer. However, the hot water from the sand bed mixed with cold lake water makes for a pretty sensational experience!  Here I am enjoying a chilled beer from the nearby resthouse while dipping my feet in ;) 

 

本当に面白くて、楽しかったです!砂を掘ると、暖かい湯が浸み出して来ます。夏でも屈斜路湖の水はまだ冷たかったですよ。さすがに入るのは大変ですが、冬場もここけ凍らないでしょう。温泉と水と砂が混ざった砂湯と冷たい湖水はとてもいい気持でした!

 

Finished off the day with an awesome meal of fresh salmon from the local lakes!

地元の湖で釣れた新鮮なサーモンのすばらしい食事で一日が終わりました!

 

We were lucky to spot some wild deer along our drive!

ドライブの途中に、何匹かの野生の鹿が見られることはラッキーですね!

 

This concludes the fourth and last post in my 4-Part Series on East Hokkaido. Read my other posts on Lake Akan, Lake Mashu, and Mt. Io!  It is an absolutely beautiful place, and everybody should visit the island at least once to immerse themselves in nature. Hopefully, I will be able to travel there again soon!