Top things to do

Top Choice Lake in Kawayu Onsen

Mashū-ko

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 Ainu as the Isle of the Gods. A road runs along the western rim.…
Top Choice Lake in Kawayu Onsen

Kussharo-ko

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.
Ainu in Kawayu Onsen

Marukibune Restaurant

OK, the food here isn't dramatically different from what a Japanese diner would serve, but you can get a donburi (rice bowl) topped with Hokkaidō venison and gyōja niniku (alpine leek), the local aromatic that has a…
Cafe in Kawayu Onsen

Orchard Grass

This cafe is inside historic Kawayu Station (built in 1936), which retains much of its original character – in the form of high, wood-panelled ceilings, antique pendant lamps, stained-glass windows and an iron-and-t…
Volcano in Kawayu Onsen

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 hot volcanic vapours for a speciality known as onsen-tamago. C…
Museum in Kawayu Onsen

Museum of Ainu Folklore

In the Kussharo kotan (Ainu village) on the southern shores of Kussharo-ko, this museum displays traditional Ainu tools and crafts. Ask the staff to play the 25-minute English video, which talks about Ainu history a…
Viewpoint in Kawayu Onsen

Bihoro Pass

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.
Museum in Kawayu Onsen

Taihō Sumo Museum

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 (Sakhalin) to a Ukrainian father and Japanese mother, brought up …
Shokudo in Kawayu Onsen

Poppotei

Right in front of JR Mashū Station, this small, cosy restaurant serves up standards such as ramen and buta-don (grilled pork on rice; ¥1080), with a generous dash of colourful organic veggies. Bonus: the coffee (¥45…
Museum in Kawayu Onsen

Kawayu Eco-Museum Centre

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 cafe, and free wi-fi throughout. A number of short nature trai…