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【Hokkaido】 “Lake Kussharo,” Where God’s Walk2015.12.21

151221屈斜路湖

“Lake Kussharo” is a beautiful cobalt blue water lake in the Akan National Park, region of Hokkaido. The name of Lake Kussharo originated from the “Ainu” language, first spoken in the Hokkaido region. Lake Kussharo was formed over 100,000 years ago from a large volcanic eruption. The volcano created a caldera crater that filled with water, and a central island, called “Nakajima.” The caldera lake was formed when a large underground pool of molten rock found beneath the surface of the earth fractured the rock strata above and broke through to the earth’s surface. Lake Kussharo is 79.3 square kilometers, with a circumference of 57 kilometers and a maximum depth 117.5 m. In the summer people enjoy hiking, kayaking and cycling around the lake. There are many hot springs and open-air baths found on the banks.

In winter, Lake Kussharo, the largest lake in Japan freezes over. But the surrounding sandy areas, rarely becomes frosted due to the geothermal springs. Whooper Swans, during their winter migration, rest at the lake and are one of the popular winter attractions. The fantastic winter spectacle of Omiwatari can also be seen. “Omiwatari,” which means “God’s crossing,” are ice cracks created by the geothermal springs heating the sandy beach and mouth of the rivers. These cracks can reach a distance of up to 10 kilometers in length, as the melting and refreezing ice pushes upwards.

To reach Lake Kussharo from Tokyo take an airplane to reach Kushiro and then take the local train. The approximate travel time is 2 hours. However, the lake region is very large and car rental is recommended.

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