Top choice in Hokkaidō

Japan's largest caldera lake is a rich blue on sunny days. A small volcano peeks out from the centre, creating the island Naka-jima – best viewed from the Bihoro Pass.

The lake is also purportedly the home of a Loch Ness monster–-like creature nicknamed Kusshi.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Hokkaidō attractions

1. Kawayu Eco-Museum Centre

4.33 MILES

Stop by this museum and visitor centre in Kawayu Onsen to see how the surrounding volcanic landscape got its shape and to pick up hiking maps. There's a…

2. Taihō Sumo Museum

4.55 MILES

This museum is full of photos, both official and candid, of legendary hometown hero, the sumo wrestler Taihō (大鵬; 1940–2013). He was born on Karafuto …

3. Iō-zan


This hissing mountain (512m), a couple of kilometres south of Kawayu Onsen, is stained sunshine-yellow in patches from sulphur. Locals steam eggs in the…

4. Bihoro Pass

5.22 MILES

This lookout point on Rte 243, which runs between Abashiri and Mashū, has a fantastic panoramic view over Kussharo-ko, with Naka-jima in the middle.

5. Museum of Ainu Folklore


In the Kussharo kotan (village) on the southern shores of Kussharo-ko, this museum displays traditional Ainu tools and crafts. Ask the staff to play the…

6. Mashū-ko

10.7 MILES

Considered by many to be Japan's most beautiful lake, Mashū-ko once held the world record for water clarity. The island in the middle was known by the…

7. Koshimizu Gensei-kaen

19.74 MILES

This is a spectacular 20km stretch of wildflowers along the coast between Abashiri and Shari. Visit in early summer and catch it at its peak, when more…

8. Akan Kohan Eco-Museum Centre

19.77 MILES

At the eastern edge of town, this centre has exhibitions on local flora and fauna, including marimo in aquarium tanks. It also has hiking maps in English…