Crater walk of Mt. Usu and the Toya Lake caldera 洞爺湖 - 有珠山
A one day visit to Toya Lake offers a lot: a walk up to some of the craters of Nishiyama / Usu; a visitors center illustrating the history of the volcanic eruptions of Mt. Usu and the adjacent Toya Lake; nice walks on the promenade of the lake and a great hotel stay at the Nonokase Resort.
Crater walk on the Nishiyama Crater Walking Trail (西山山麓火口散策路)
After we dropped our luggage at the hotel, we started our walk immediately from the small town of Toyako.
The walk takes a few hours and it’s not intense. Along the signposted trail you pass by some impressive sights. We saw a hotel whose both floors were flooded by lava stone. You could still see inside the shattered glass – objects were left untouched.
Before reaching the craters, you walk alongside a road torn apart by the quake displaying a phenomenon called mini graben, traffic signs leading nowhere and infrastructure covered by nature. Impressive. Here are the Google coordinates.
Toyako Visitor Center (洞爺湖ビジターセンター・火山科学館)
Before or after the crater walk you should check the visitors center, we did it after the walk. Since the eruption happened only 20 years ago, there is a lot of visual material and videos showing details of the eruption. The exhibits have handy English translations and the entrance fee is 600 yen.
More to do and see
There is much more to do: you can take the boat on the lake and get to the middle island of Nakanoshima (中の島); hike Mt. Usu from different sides or take the ropeway all the way up; renting bicycles and cycling around the lake… We will definitely be back 🙂
Getting to Toya Lake is easy – the train line which goes from Hakodate to Sapporo (the main line) stops at Toya Station. From there you can take a frequent bus to the lake. The trip take 20 minutes and costs around 340 yen.
We last visited in 2018.