The annual Chitose Lake Shikotsu Ice Festival sees the banks of Lake Shikotsu transformed into a magical frozen kingdom. With colorfully illuminated ice castles and a whole host of wintry activities, it’s a fantastic way to make the most of the season’s cold weather!Lake Shikotsu is part of the Shikotsu-Toya National Park, in the northernmost prefecture of Hokkaido. It’s a caldera lake – meaning it was formed in a volcanic crater – and is surrounded by three volcanic mountains: Mount Eniwa, Mount Fuppushi and Mount Tarumae.
With a maximum depth of 363 meters, Shikotsu is the second-deepest lake in Japan. Its other claim to fame is that it has some of the clearest and purest water in the country. This makes glass-bottomed boat rides a popular activity here.
During the ice festival, however, that crystal-clear water is put to a very different use: creating a huge range of stunning ice sculptures. During the day, these glisten naturally blue in the sunlight, while at night they are illuminated in a host of bright colors to form a magical fairytale kingdom. As you wander around – and even inside – these surreal frozen constructions, you’ll feel as though you’ve been transported to another world!
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