Explore Lake Toya’s ‘Zero Point’ – the remnants of an underwater volcano

Amid the deep waters of Lake Toya, a rocky outcrop suddenly appears so close you can almost reach it. It is known as ‘Zero Point’ and is located approximately 600 m northeast of Lake Toya’s Nakajima island. It is believed to be the remnants of a volcano that erupted and rose from the earth’s surface 40,000 years ago, just like the Nakajima island itself, opening up a world of mystery just below the surface of the water.
“There it is!” The turning motorboat slows down and a brown, rocky shoal appears. “The point is the intersection of three imaginary lines from the Windsor Hotel to the right, Showa Shinzan to the left, and Eboshiiwa Park in the background,” says Aramachi Makoto, CEO of Toyako Chuo Motor Boat. The location can be determined and reached using the landmarks as clues.
The maximum depth of Lake Toya is approximately 180 meters. From there, a mountain rises under the water, and its oval peak, the size of about two tennis courts, is visible near the surface of the water. The columnar joints that form when lava cools and shrinks, can also be seen.
However, if you move a little further away, the lake suddenly becomes deeper and the blue-black waters seem almost to suck you in. The underwater mountain that almost became an island tells the story of the lake’s formation, standing silently between the sparkling sunlight and the blue lake water.
To get to Zero Point, take a motorboat from the Toyako Onsen hot-spring resort. Tours operated by Toyako Chuo Motor Boat https://www.aramachi-cb.com/toyako.html last approximately one hour and cost from 9,000 yen for two people. Tours operated by Toya Marine: http://toyamarine.com/ are also available and cost from 10,000 yen for two people.

Written by Wada Toshimasa

At ‘Zero Point’ the water is only about one meter deep. In summer, when the water is warmer, it is possible to stand there in a swimsuit
The light brown rocky surface of ‘Zero Point’. April 2015 (photographed using a drone)