Step into a scene seemingly plucked from the beloved Studio Ghibli film, “Spirited Away,” as we introduce you to the ethereal Lake Shikaribetsu, a hidden gem nestled within Hokkaido’s Tokachi region. A picturesque spot where rails vanish into a celestial lake has captivated travelers and netizens alike, garnering vibrant snapshots paired with exclamations of its resemblance to the spirited world of Chihiro.
Embarking on a Journey to the Enigmatic Lake Shikaribetsu
Situated approximately 210 kilometers by car from Sapporo and roughly 3 hours (about 200 kilometers) from New Chitose Airport, Lake Shikaribetsu offers an enchanting escape to those willing to make the journey. An online search for “Lake Shikaribetsu photos” or “Hokkaido vanishing railway into the lake” will likely yield an array of mystifying images, where the railways submerge into the crystal-clear lake, tempting explorers and photographers to its shores.
Visitors often share awe-inspiring photos of the photogenic railway as it seemingly leads into the abyss, likening the surreal visuals to the mythical world crafted by Studio Ghibli.
A Wealth of Nature and Ancient Creatures Lurking in and Around
According to the Hokkaido Official Guide, Lake Shikaribetsu is the only natural lake in Daisetsuzan National Park, holding the title for the highest-altitude lake in the region at 810m, with a depth plunging close to 100m at its deepest. Engulfed by pristine forests of fir and spruce trees, it maintains a romantic aura that whispers tales of ancient nature.
The lake, originating from a volcanic eruption nearly 30,000 years ago, features an enchanting islet, Benten Island, adrift in its northern waters, while Mt. Tenbo on its eastern side casts a shadow, thus affectionately being dubbed “Lip Mountain,” emerging as a symbolic presence for Lake Shikaribetsu. Rich in biodiversity, the surrounding woods harbor living fossils like the Pika, along with a host of precious wildlife including ospreys, white-tailed eagles, black woodpeckers, and herons, offering a tangible connection to an ancient, primal world.
Immerse Yourself in the Mystique: Canoeing, Trekking, and More
With a remarkable clarity that allows visibility to its bed from the lake’s edge, Lake Shikaribetsu presents a kaleidoscope of sun, sky, and surrounding forestry mirrored upon its surface, offering a sublime and mystical view that broadens as you gaze from afar.
While the disappearing rail into the lake is a visual marvel, don’t stop there. Engage more deeply with the mystery by canoeing upon its serene waters.
Despite a touch of disillusionment – learning the railway, rather than leading to a submerged temple or city, serves pragmatically for hauling boats ashore before the lake’s icy winter transformation – the magnetism of Lake Shikaribetsu prevails.
Winter Transforms: The Emergence of an Ice Village
During the frosty embrace of winter, the frozen lake hosts an ephemeral Ice Village, “Shikaribetsu Kotan,” for a mere 60 days. A spectacle in itself, it invites visitors to bask in another facet of its charm, aligning stars above with the shimmering ice below.
Location: 〒081-0344 North Kabocha Curtain, Shikaoi Town, Kato District, Hokkaido, No Address
Date: Late January to Late March
Shikaribetsu Nature Center
Embark on a voyage to Lake Shikaribetsu and immerse yourself in a landscape where reality and fantastical worlds intertwine, inviting you to explore, dream, and discover a piece of Hokkaido’s enchanting allure.