The sight of Lake Toya and Mount Usu (or Usuzan) of Hokkaido has continually changed depending on how many times eruption occurred. It is a place where you can experience the rare often-changing land of this world. This time, we will draw closer to the charm of Lake Toya and Usuzan which have a beautiful natural landscape due to volcanic activity.

About Lake Toya and Usuzan

Lake Toya was created from a large eruption which occurred about 110,000 years ago, and in the center of the lake is Nakajima, a group of lava dome islands formed by the eruption about 50,000 years ago. Mt. Usu is formed by eruptions about 10 to 20 thousand years ago, and in the 20th century four eruption occurred. Around the Lake Toya and Mt. Usu, the surrounding area is called the Toya Caldera - Usu Volcano Geopark and you can walk around the vast land. In the Geopark, you can see historical relics from about 3000 years ago, during the Jomon period, or watch the Yezo Shika Deer in their own ecology, and also learn about the history of people and animals coexisting with volcanoes.

What to do at Lake Toya and Usuzan

The Panoramic View From Usu Mountain Ropeway

There is ropeway service at Mt. Usu, so you can travel from the foot of the mountain to the area near the summit. It is 6 minutes one way for each ride, and from the windows is the view of the vast landscape. From the Lake Toya Observatory, which is just a short walk from the station on the summit, it is a popular photography spot where you can see Showa Shinzan and Lake Toya. Furthermore if you walk for 40 to 50 minutes from there, you will arrive at the Outer Rim Mountain Observation Deck and you can enjoy the panoramic view of the large crater such as Gin’numa Great Crater which formed by the eruption in 1977 and the Pacific Ocean.

Spot Information

  • Spot name: Usuzan Ropeway (有珠山ロープーウェイ)
  • Street Adress: 184-5 Showashinzan, Sobetsu-cho, Usu-gun, Hokkaido 052-0102
  • Access: From JR Toya Station, take the Donan bus to Lake Toya Onsen and get off at the end Lake Toya Onsen Bus Terminal. After that, change to Donan bus bound for Showa Shinzan and get off at the terminal. It is closed during winter.

Lake Toya and Usuzan, the stage of Mahjong manga "Saki"

A part of Lake Toya and Usuzan is drawn as a scene of manga known as Saki by manga artist Ritsu Kobayashi. It is a story where school girls who play Mahjong aim and struggle towards interhigh tournament, and in the story, "Usuzan High School" appears as a fictitious school. The scenes which were shown in the manga is gathered on Google Maps, and hardcore fans participate on pilgrimages to the ‘holy site’.

Access to Lake Toya and Usuzan

Access to Lake Toya

The nearest station is JR Toya station. From the station you need to take a Donan bus or a taxi. Donan Bus arrives from JR Toya station to Lake Toya Onsen in about 20 minutes. In addition, it is also possible to travel to Lake Toya Onsen by car or bus from the New Chitose Airport.

Access to Usuzan

From JR Toya Station, take the Donan bus to Lake Toya Onsen and get off at the end, the Lake Toya Onsen Bus Terminal. After that, change to Donan bus bound for Showa Shinzan and get off at the terminal. It is closed during winter. When travelling by car, it is a 15 minutes drive from Showa Shinzan from Date Interchange Expressway.

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