Lake Toya (Toya-ko), from the Ainu words for lake (to) and hill (ya), is one of the two northernmost ice-free lakes in Japan, along with Lake Shikotsu. The circumference of this circular lake is about 40 km, and the deepest point is about 179 m.
Nakajima, four islands at the center of the lake, has been designated as a wildlife sanctuary and is inhabited by Ezo deer and other wild animals.
Lake Toya is surrounded by hot springs and is a popular resort area throughout the year. Many deer and other animals can be seen on the large island in the center of the lake. The most popular activity for visitors here is to take a boat ride across the lake and visit the islands in the middle. Rowboats and paddleboats are also available. You’ll be surprised to find that most lakes don’t allow swimming, but if you really want to jump in, you can venture over to Takinoue Camp. It’s about 20 minutes around the lake, but there is a small beach where swimming is permitted. There is also cheap camping, and you can rent a tent if you don’t have one yourself. If you are looking for an expensive but enjoyable hot spring experience, check out the onsen at the Sun Palace Hotel. The facilities include a large indoor pool filled with hot spring water, artificial waves, water slides, and a sun terrace. The hotel also offers more traditional hot spring baths for men and women, complete with saunas. Toyoko Onsen puts on a nightly fireworks display from the end of April through October. The show begins around 8:45pm. Note: Due to the recent eruption of Mt. Usu, it is advisable to check all facilities in this area before going.
It is said that Lake Toya Hot Spring emerged from the eruption of Mt. Usu in 1910. The hot springs were discovered in 1917. The volume of spring water is so great that it ranks third in Japan. The mildly saline springs are said to have highly curative effects for rheumatism, wounds and chronic eczema. They suffered damage from the eruption of Mt. Usu in March 2000.
Lake Toya is an ice-free lake. It never freezes, even in winter when the temperature falls quite drastically. The beauty of the ice-free lake can therefore be admired anytime during the year. There are big and small four islands called Nakajima in the middle of the lake, and on it is the Toyako Forest Museum, which is a part of the sightseeing boat route. Trout and smelt fishing are very popular sports in and around the lake. There are also fully facilitated camping sites.
Volcano Science Museum
Volcano Science Museum is a comprehensive learning facility of mount Usu, which has been erupting repeatedly since the prehistoric times. Tracing the history of mount Usu, this museum introduces the mechanism of volcanic eruption, exhibit the actual damages caused by the eruptions in the past, and show preventive measures against disasters using photos, models, diorama, and various other audio visual materials mainly focusing on the eruptions in 2000. You can virtually experience what they were like while learning.
Lake Toya (Toyako) Onsen Tourist Association 142 Toyakoonsen, Toyako, Abuta District, Hokkaido Prefecture 049-5721, Japan Access: 2hr 30 min by Donan bus from Sapporo Station bus terminal to Toyako Onsen bus stop. Tel: 0142-74-2446 Fax: 0142-75-3715
Shikotsu-Toya National Park
Shikotsu-Toya National Park consists of Lake Toya, Lake Shikotsu, Noboribetsu and Jozankei hot springs. Mount Usu and Showa-shinzan are major tourist attractions in the Shikotsu-Toya National Park. There are various volcanoes, caldera lakes and hot springs to visit. It is the closest National Park to Sapporo, and is highly recommended for short stays, making it one of the most popular tourist destinations in Hokkaido. Toyoko Onsen, along the shores of Lake Toyo is a small resort town where most people stop to enjoy the beautiful lake.
Access to Shikotsu-Toya National Park By train – 36min (810 yen) to JR New Chitose Station or 1hr 38min to JR Toya Sta. from Sapporo Station By car – 100km to Lake Shikotsu from Sapporo.
By bus – Buses run from Sapporo, New Chitose Airport and Chitose Bus Terminal. 105km to Lake Toya.
Unless you’ve had your head in the ground, you probably know that Mt. Usu erupted recently and has wreaked havoc on the surrounding resort areas. This active mountain also erupted in 1977, forming two new peaks rising out of the caldera lake. The most recent eruption formed several new peaks as well. Local residents know Mt. Usu lovingly as the “King of Volcanoes.” We’d advise you to stay clear of the area until the dust settles (literally).
Access: 15 min by Donan bus from Toyako Onsen bus stop to Showa Shinzan bus stop
Mount Usu (Usuzan) Ropeway/Gondola (cable car)
Mt. Usu connects the town of Abuta and the Lake Toya (Toya-ko) Hot Spring village. A 6 minutes ride by Mount Usu (Usuzan) Ropeway from the bottom to the summit of the Usu mountain offers a great view of Lake Toya and Mt. Showa Shinzan, and the Usu Crater Basin. You will depart from Sanroku Station to arrive at Sancho Station. Upon arrival, the Lake Toya Observation Deck is on the right, commanding views of Mt. Showa Shinzan and LakeToya far below.
Usuzan Gondola (Mount Usu Ropeway), Wakasa Resort Co. Ltd 184-5 Aza Showa Shinzan, Sobetsu Town (Sobetsu-cho) , Usu District (Usu-gun), Hokkaido 052-0102 Tel: 0142-75-2401 Fax: 0142-73-3113
Toya Caldera and Usu Volcano Geopark (Toya Usu Geopark) – Experience The Ever Changing Earth – The First Global Geopark in Japan
A Geopark is a natural park where you can learn firsthand about “the Changing World of Our Mother Earth”. The Toya Caldera and Usu Volcano Geopark is full of. interesting attractions and programs. There are a wide range of topics covering geological and volcanological interests as well as historical and cultural ones.
Mt. Usu has erupted 9 times since 1663. Throughout the world this volcano is unique in its frequent creation of lava domes which can be viewed right before one’s eyes. Mt. Usu has claimed some lives in the past. After years of modern scientific research and local people’s efforts, the area has learned how to live in harmony with the living Kami (the Gods) and now enjoys many blessings which the volcano gives, such as hot springs, beautiful scenery, and delicious agricultural and marine products. Here you can experience firsthand both the ever-changing Earth and a beautiful natural park featuring a caldera lake and lava domes.
The wide panoramic views of Lake Toya and the various gifts from this volcanic country such as hot springs and tasty local foods will surely help you to relax and refresh yourself. Enjoy Relaxing in the wonderful Spas – such as Toyako-Onsen Spa, Sobeisu Onsen Spa, Bankei Onsen Spa, Kita-Yuzawa Onsen Spa, Date Onsen Spa, Toyoura Onsen Spa, etc. and Adventures – such as Canoeing, footpaths/trails, volcanic eruption memorials, museums, horse trekking, dolphin watching, swimming / camping beaches, park golf, snowshoe trekking, marathons, Yufd-Gassen (snowball fight) Festival, and many others. Here you will enjoy:
- Sangai-Daki Waterfall Park
- Rebunge Coast
- Toya Pyroclastic Flow Plateau
- Lake Toya Caldera
- Nakajima Island (domes)
- Kimundo-no-Taki Waterfall
- Nakajima Footpath
- Takarada Footpath
- Sobetsu Park Footpath
- Summit Crater Footpath
- Flow Mound Cape Arutori
- Kita-Kogane Shell Mound Park
- Irie/Takasago Shell Mound Park
- Kamui Chashi Historical Ainu Park
- Usu Zenko-ji Temple
- Toyako Onsen Spa
- Meiji-Shinzan Footpath
- Showa-shinzan Lava Dome (National Treasure)
- Summit Craters and Domes
- Konpira-Yama Footpath
- Western Flank Footpath (west Nishi-yama area)
Access to Lake Toya and Usu Volcano
By Car — From Chitose Airport via Lake Shikotsu (R276) and Otaki (R453), Lake Toya (100min) — From Sapporo via R230 and Lake Toya (120min) — From Niseko via Rusutsu R230 and Lake Toya (60min)
By JR train
— 20min to Lake Toya from JR Toyako station by taxi or bus
Toya Caldera and Usu volcano Global Geopark c/o Toyako-cho Town Office 58 Sakaemachi, Toyako-cho, Abuta-gun, Hokkaido 049-5692, Japan Tel:0142-74-3015
Toya-Usu Global Geopark Committee Inside the Sobetsu Information Center 384-1 Takinomachi, Aza, Sobetsu Town (Sobetsu-cho), Usu District (Usu-gun), Hokkaido
Toya Usu Geopark Website: http://www.toya-usu-geopark.org/?pagename=english
This volcanic mountain is referred to as Ezo Fuji because its conical shape resembles its famous friend. From the top of Mt. Yotei, both the Sea of Japan and the Pacific Ocean can be seen. During the summer, this mountain can be climbed within seven hours, also good mt. biking in the area.
Access to Mt. Yotei: 10 min. by Donan bus from (Toyako Onsen Eki) from JR Kutchan Station to Yotei Tozanguchi bus stop
Mt. Showa Shinzan
This is another volcano that was formed as a result of rising farmland after two years of volcanic activities, between 1943 and 1945. Before the 1945 eruption, this area was nothing but flat farmland, however the raising of the ground resulted in the active volcano that you see today. Showa-Shinzan Youth Hostel, located near the foot of the volcano, is the closest youth hostel to Toyako Onsen. It’s about 3000 yen for members and non-members alike, and facilities include rental bikes, laundry, onsen and breakfast or dinner.
Rusutsu comprises a vast and comprehensive relaxation and recreation facility, complete with swimming pools, ski slopes, hiking trails, golf courses and a large amusement park. Not surprisingly, it is a popular destination for day trips among Sapporo residents in summer and winter.
Access: 1hr by Donan Bus (Toyako Onsen Eki) from JR Kutchan Station to Rusutsu Resort bus stop or 1hr 30 min. by bus from Kamori Kanko Building to Rusutsu Resort.
Shikotsu-Toya National Park – Toyako Visitor Center
Featuring a gigantic aerial photo spread on the floor, the Shikotsu-Toya National Park – Toyako Visitor Center introduces visitors to the nature observation information in the Lake Toya area, the volcanic history of Mount Usu and the native flora and fauna therein. Address: 142-5 Toyako onsen, Toyako Town (Toyako-cho), Abuta District, Hokkaido Prefecture 049-5721, Japan Tel: (81)142-75-2555 Open: 9.00am to 5.00pm, Closed: Dec 31 – Jan 1 Free Parking: Capacity (29 passanger vehicles and 12 buses)
Volcano Science Museum Website: http://www.toyako-vc.jp/en/volcano/
Lake Side Spa Hotel Toya Kawanami (Toya Caldera and Usu Volcano Geopark) 53 Toyakoonsen, Sobetsu, Usu District, Hokkaido Prefecture 052-0107, Japan Tel: (81)142-75-2715 (8:00A.M.~9:00P.M.) / (81)142-75-3002
Toya Tourism Association Town Planning 100 Toyamachi, Toyako, Abuta District, Hokkaido Prefecture 049-5802, Japan Tel: 0142-82-5277 Fax: 0142-82-5388
Website: http://toya-kanko.jp/ (Japanese Only)
Cultural Center, Toya town hall 142 Toyakoonsen, Toyako, Abuta District, Hokkaido Prefecture 049-5721, Japan Tel: 0142-75-4400, 0142-76-2121 Fax: 0142-74-2121
Website: http://www.town.toyako.hokkaido.jp/index.jsp (Japanese Only)