Poetic Beauty of Wintry Kussharo
Winter in Hokkaido Prefecture... It's a fascinating time to visit for the stunning snowscapes and natural phenomena caused by the severe cold. Kussharo, located in a huge caldera, is part of the Akan-Mashu National Park. Cradled by the outer rim of the crater, heavy, cold air accumulates and the temperature plummets below minus 20 degrees Celsius on windless days. Lake Kussharo is the largest lake in Japan that completely freezes over. Hot springs gush out from many spots, releasing steam. Snow, ice and the steam interact in the ultra-low temperatures to create mysterious and stunning natural works of art.

Frost Flowers

Frost flowers are clusters of ice crystals that form when vapors in the air crystalize in the freezing morning temperatures and spread across the lakebed.

Hot spring bathing in the great outdoors

Volcanic activity continues in the Kussharo area and that means ... onsen! A very simple open-air hot spring bath is available for warming up and restoring your body from the extreme low temperatures.

Omiwatari (passage of the gods) phenomenon

Ice contracts and expands on the frozen lake repeatedly according to the temperature. The phenomenon is the result of the ice being pushed up when it can no longer withstand the pressure produced by its contraction and expansion. Lake Kussharo's Omiwatari ice peaks are the tallest in Japan, with some over one meter high and extending for several kilometers.


To reach Kussharo from Tokyo, fly to Kushiro Airport. From there, it's about one and a half hours by train on the JR Senmo Honsen line to Kawayu hot spring.