Lake Shikaribetsu Kotan
An ephemeral mystical village at a lake in the sky, located at the highest elevation in Hokkaido
- Closest station
JR Obihiro Station
1 hour 45 minutes by Hokkaido Takushoku Bus from JR Obihiro Station
Shikaoi Town, Kato District, Hokkaido
Great Stuff to See and Do!
A unique village of snow and ice you can only see for 60 days
Kotan means “village” in the Ainu language. You can see a mystical village appear on the completely frozen lake for just 60 days from the end of January. With its characteristic igloos built by piling snow blocks, this special world exists only at Lake Shikaribetsu during the coldest part of the year. It completely melts and disappears as spring arrives.
There are various highlights and forms of hospitality in the Kotan village such as an ice bar, a rotenburo open-air hot spring, an ice lodge, and an ice concert. Many tourists visit here from both Japan and abroad. Enchanting visitors, the night sky full of stars is beautiful precisely because it is so cold and clear. You can also have the precious experience of encountering “diamond dust” (water vapor that freezes in the air and glitters in the sun as it falls to the ground), which you can only see in sub-zero weather conditions. It’s a special privilege you can see at Lake Shikaribetsu, where people and nature are touchingly close.
Enjoyment unique to a lake in the sky from spring to autumn
This place is also worth visiting outside of the time period when Lake Shikaribetsu Kotan is held. Japan’s oldest permafrost is located in the forests and mountains surrounding Lake Shikaribetsu, making it a geologically important region. It was designated as a Japanese Geopark in 2012. There are plenty of guided tours, so you can create precious memories and experience the grand timescale of geological wonders.