※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!
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.
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!
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!
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 ;)
Finished off the day with an awesome meal of fresh salmon from the local lakes!
We were lucky to spot some wild deer along our drive!
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!