Mashu-ko, the devil's lake of the Ainu 摩周湖
Kamuito or the lake of the gods, the crystal lake of Hokkaido
The eastern tip of the island of Hokkaido is home to one of the most beautiful lakes in Japan. Within a volcanic formation located in Akan Park , one of the clearest waters on the planet lays in a calm downpour beneath the northern skies of ancient Ezo.
A unique lake in the world
Lake Mashû was known in ancient times as Devil's Lake, a name given by the indigenous Ainu population. Having become Mashû-ko (Lake Mashû), it is also known nowadays under the Ainu name of Kamuito, or lake of the gods.
Lake Mashu is the caldera of a potentially still active volcano, with a circumference of 19.8 kilometers and a depth of just over 200 meters.
Its waters are so transparent that only beautiful Lake Baikal can rival its purity, while its emerald blue whose shades change according to the time of day fascinates those who are lucky enough to admire it.
In the middle, solitary and rebellious, the island (or rather the islet) Kamuishi is the only imperfection that can be seen in the eye of the lake.
In summer, the surface reflects the clouds and the surrounding mountains with such clarity that it seems that a huge mirror has been placed on the lake. And in winter, the snow nestled in the steep ledges provides a fascinating contrast between the pristine white of the flakes and the deep blue of the water.
For night view lovers, the cloudless sky where many stars are stationed is a marvelous echo of the great Japanese lake.
- Read also: Lake Toya
How to get to Lake Mashû?
It is possible to climb towards the lake, which is located 351 meters above sea level. But the immediate area around Lake Mashu is a specially protected area to which access is prohibited. It is possible to reach one of the observatories set up for this purpose :
Observatory No. 1 unfolds to the south of the lake and offers a direct view of Mount Kamui (another name for Mount Mashu), which overlooks the lake.
observatory n°3 offers him the possibility, when the weather conditions allow it, to observe the magnificent "sea of oceans" which falls heavily on the lake. It is also located about ten kilometers from Kawayu onsen.
the uramashû observatory, which as its name suggests - "ura" meaning in Japanese "opposite side" is located on the ledge facing the other two observatories.
For hiking enthusiasts, a trekking path starts from the first observatory and leads after 7 kilometers to the summit of Mount Mashû, unrolling its path along the lake and providing a view of its different aspects.
Address, timetable & access
TimetableTake the local bus from JR Mashu station (about 25 min)