• Private seats made possible with additional deck area

    "Mt. USU Terrace" boasts an Usuzan Ropeway Lake Toya summit observatory with a panoramic view of the natural environs enjoyable from the comfort of a sofa. The Terrace installed new deck space with...

  • The Lake Shikotsu Management Council, a general incorporated association made up of people involved in tourism around Lake Shikotsu, has formulated new local rules for the use of the lake's entire waterfront, and began putting them into effect in April. Named ‘Lake Shikotsu Rules,’ the new rules comprise 13 items, including limits regarding launching areas for non-powered vessels such as canoes and SUPs, and ensuring that life jackets are worn when using such vessels. The rules are published on the council's website and will also be made available on the websites of individual commercial operators.

  • My first recollection of contact with the Ainu was when I was 10 or 11 years old, during a visit to Shiraoi on a school study trip. I can remember an enormous statue standing tall at the entrance of Poroto Kotan, a former cultural site now replaced by Upopoy, the National Ainu Museum. You may think that 10 years old is a little late considering I grew up where the Ainu's presence is supposedly the strongest in all of Japan. If you take New Zealand as a contrast, children grow up watching the All Blacks perform the haka, and many learn to sing the national anthem in the Maori language. That kind of quotidian contact with the indigenous culture didn't occur in my childhood, something I only started questioning after living in New Zealand.

  • TOYA TOY BOX, an outdoor guide company in the town of Toya in the Iburi region of central Hokkaido, is offering a rare winter canoeing activity that is proving popular. Winter canoeing is not a standard activity, but TOYA TOY BOX has implemented safety measures such as joining two Canadian canoes together, hoping that visitors will enjoy the tranquility of the area and the beautiful lake, which is clearer than in summer.

  • A monitor cycling tour on the frozen surface of Lake Nukabira was held for the first time in the town of Kamishihoro in the Tokachi region of eastern Hokkaido. Lake Nukabira is a special area of the Daisetsuzan National Park, where, in principle, vehicles are not allowed. However, the tour was held with permission from the Ministry of the Environment, which was received in February in anticipation of the demand for outdoor activities. The tour, which will be introduced in earnest next season, allows visitors to ride on the clear ice and view scenic spots, including the group of arches of a former National Railways bridge, during the severe winter season.

  • On March 10, five ninth-grade students who were about to graduate from Kushiro City Akanko Compulsory Education School observed ‘Lake Akan marimo,’ balls of algae that are designated special natural monuments of Japan, is they await spring beneath the ice-covered Lake Akan. The students visited Chuurui Bay in the northern part of Lake Akan – to which access for visitors is normally limited – and rediscovered the value of this local ‘treasure.’

  • On February 11, an ‘ice carousel’ – a merry-go-round in which the frozen surface of a lake is cut to form a circle which is then rotated on the surface of the water – appeared at Lake Sakuraoka in the town of Kembuchi in northern Hokkaido. An event scheduled for this month was cancelled due to the spread of the coronavirus, but the town's tourism association made the carousel to promote the event for next season and beyond.

  • On an intensely cold early morning measuring 20 degrees below zero on the thermometer, water vapor rose from holes in the ice surface on Eastern Hokkaido Lake Kussharo, covering the lakeside area in a frost mist.

  • At the "Lake Shikaribetsu Kotan" event currently being held at Lake Shikaribetsu in the town of Shikaoi in the Eastern Hokkaido Tokachi region, a wedding ceremony was conducted atop the ice on February 11. The wedded couple professed their eternal love in an ice chapel made of ice and snow.

  • At Lake Kuttari in the town of Shintoku located in the Eastern Hokkaido Tokachi region, holes have been cut in the frozen lake to replicate the "avanto" practice of bathing in cold river water after enjoying a sauna, in place of a cold-water bath. A staff member from the Embassy of Finland, the birthplace of the avanto custom, visited on February 7. The staff member bathed in the Lake Kuttari avanto and expressed awe at, "the sensation of free openness that feels like you are becoming one with nature."