Tourist development around the beautiful lake of SHIKOTSU-KO (支笏湖) is remarkably low-key, despite this being the closest part of the park to Sapporo. At 363m, this is Japan’s second-deepest lake (after Tazawa-ko in Akita-ken), and its blue waters never freeze over. All buses stop at the tiny village of SHIKOTSU-KO ONSEN (支笏湖温泉), nestled in the woods beside the mouth of the Chitose-gawa on the east side of the lake, and mercifully free of the multistorey hotels present at Tōya-ko.

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