Renowned for its deep blue hue, Lake Mashu is one of Hokkaido’s finest natural sights! Known in the Ainu language as Kamuito, the ‘Lake of Gods’, this magnificent wonder is the perfect addition to any nature lover’s Hokkaido itinerary.

So what’s the secret behind Lake Mashu’s enchanting clear waters, and what can you actually do there? We’ll take you through the delights of Lake Mashu throughout the year, from the fresh greenery of summer to the depths of the intense white winters!

What Kind of Place is Lake Mashu?

Located in the Akan Mashu National Park in eastern Hokkaido, Lake Mashu is a 19.6 square kilometer volcanic caldera lake with a whopping 20-kilometer circumference.

As the lake and surroundings are a designated ‘Special Protection Area’ enclosed by sharp cliffs, it is impossible to actually go down into the lake. However, there are lookouts offering stunning panoramas sure to satisfy!

Why are Lake Mashu’s waters so clear?
With rain as its primary source, the lake is free from much of the plankton and sediment carried in by rivers. This is believed to be the central reason why Lake Mashu retains such a high transparency level.

What’s the Weather at Lake Mashu Like?
Lake Mashu is notorious for being foggy – there’s even a Japanese song called ‘Foggy Lake Mashu!’ This is particularly true during June and July, when the lake is only half-visible for much of the time.

However, even the thickest fog can suddenly lift to reveal a dazzling scene, and fans of the lake often argue that one of its charms lies in waiting patiently for a clear view. Once it does lift, the mountains and sky are perfectly reflected upon the water’s mirror-like surface.

What’s the Island Floating in the Middle?
Lake Mashu is big enough to boast its own mini-island! This island is actually the tip of a volcano, which pokes out from the lake’s surface, creating a roughly 30-meter tall island. The island is known in the Ainu language as Kamuishu (‘the old woman who became a god’), due to the legend that an old woman searching for her grandchild came to the lake’s edge and, being unable to move due to the pain and sadness, transformed into Mashu’s island.

How to Get to Lake Mashu

Lake Mashu and rime ice in winter

If you’re visiting by public transport, the closest airports are Memanbetsu Airport and Kushiro Airport.

From Memanbetsu Airport, take a bus to Abashiri Station and board a train on the Semmo Main Line until JR Mashu Station. If you’re arriving at Kushiro Airport, catch a bus to JR Kushiro Station, hop on a train on the Semmo Main Line and…

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