Visit Lake Shikotsu

Lake Shikotsu is part of the Shikotsu-Toya National Park, established in 1949 as the 14th national part of Japan. Covering an area of almost 100.000ha, the park covers 3 regions: Mount Yotei region, Lake Toya & Noboribetsu region and Lake Shikotsu & Jozankei Gorge region. The natural environment and landscapes created by the various vocanoes drive many tourists to the area in all seasons. But if you’re planning to visit Lake Shikotsu during the winter, keep an eye on the Shikotsu Ice Village. It is a highly rated touristic destination, open for about 1 month each year, from ~end of Jan till ~end of Feb (28.01 – 23.02.2023). And if you’re thinking to go, here’s how to spend the day.

Lake Shikotsu Visitor Center

Start your visit from Shikotsu Visitor Center. This beautiful designed space offers a variety of information on the local flora and fauna around lake Shikotsu. An information desk is available to provide the latest updates in the area. The free Wi-Fi and lounge are more than useful, especially during cold winter days.

Lake Shikotsu Area

Once you get all the information, have a walk around the area. It is relatively small and compact, but the overall view is beautiful. Have a closer look at the lake. Cross the Yamasen Railway bridge and walk towards the end of the path, where you can actually get near the water. And if you’re getting hungry, go back to the information center area where all the restaurants are located.

Kyukamura Shikotsuko Onsen

With the stomach full, head towards the upper part of the hill where Kyukamura Shikotsuko Onsen is located (~20 min by walk). Open for daily visitors for limited time, make sure you get there by 3pm. The closing time is 4pm, but if get there after 3pm they won’t allow you inside. And a rule is a rule in Japan, no matter how much you’re begging for.

Lake Shikotsu Ice Village

Once your body is well heated from the onsen, go to the main point of interest, to Shikoku Ice Village. It can get extremely cold, especially as the night is coming, so you’ll appreciate a soak in the onsen prior your visit.

The Shikoku Ice Village is open from 10am-8pm, but the illuminations are switched on from 4.30pm. I totally recommend you to see the village by day and night, as it has a different vibe. And the good part is that the 500¥ entrance ticket allows multiple entrances. So come and go as you like. ‎

Welcome area

Once you go towards the ticket counter you will enter an ice room. Instead of rushing to purchase your ticket, I recommend you to look backwards. A beautiful view will open through the ice door. A great souvenir to remember.

Once you enter, there is a small ice arcade on your right. You can learn more about how everything was built from the pictures on display. It’s a nice way to start your visit, as you’ll better appreciate the oncoming experiences.

Observation Deck

Continue your visit with the observation platform, by appreciating the overall size of the village. Have a walk from one side to another to see the village from different perspectives.

Ice Wall

At the end of the deck, you will arrive near a huge ice wall, which is basically on the opposite side of the entrance. From here, try to explore the outer circle first, and leave the middle part for the end.

Iced Forest

Below the observation platform there is another passage, probably the most impressive from the entire village. You will first enter a frozen forest, then continue your way through a long corridor, with a big chandelier and a piano. As my phone switched off because of the cold, the most impressive part is missing in the pictures – so you just have to trust me!

Ice Towers

As you move around you will notice two huge towers of ice. Are beautifully illuminated in the night, but the colors during the day are even more beautiful, under natural lighting.

Ice Rooms

There are several ice rooms to see. One has an ice made chandeliers which lights up in different colors.

Ice Corridors

And last but not least, there are several ice corridors with beautiful gas lamps – gorgeous for pictures.

Overall, a complete tour of the village, including photographs, it takes between 30min to 1h depending on how crowded it gets. But as you should see the place during the day and night, ensure you allocate enough time for both.


To get to Lake Shikotsu by public transportation you have to take a bus from the New Chitose Airport. There are 4 busses per day starting with 8.25am, 11.35am, 2.30pm, 4.30pm. The schedule to come back is 9.35am, 12.50pm, 3.45pm and 5.45pm. You can buy the tickets straight from the bus driver. One way ticket costs 1050¥‎ and the journey takes about 1h.

The end!

Well, that’s it from my side. I hope you enjoyed the article and one day you’ll visit Lake Shikotsu by yourself. Meanwhile, get inspired from more articles across Japan and not only, here.

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2 thoughts on “Visit Lake Shikotsu

  1. Arta și spectacol din gheata într.un sătuc, ce frumos…noaptea, cu adevărat spectaculos.

  2. Fantastic photographs and descriptions.
    Japan has so many beautiful aspects of nature to see and it’s so well thought out from the designs to producing a special experience.
    Thank you Alex for sharing, you are opening our eyes and minds.

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