Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Japan Trip (Hokkaido): Lake Toya

A 45 mins drive from Noboribetsu brought us to Lake Toya where we spent 2 nights. We stayed in Daiwa Ryokan Annex along Lake Toya. It's again similar experience to the one we stayed in Sounkyo, which was also a hot spring Japanese style Ryokan. You can read about my hot spring and Ryokan stay experience here!

The beds in Daiwa Ryokan Annex were more comfortable though and I didn't suffer from back ache the next day!

But, we didn't have private toilet and bathroom here, and I was shocked that their shared bathroom was really 'shared'! The only place where I could take a shower was at the open bath area in the female Onsen room! I didn't have a choice, I have to bath with the others!

Fireworks on Lake Toya

There are fireworks display on Lake Toya everyday from 845pm to 905pm from April to October! There are cruises which bring you out to Lake Toya and enjoy the fireworks display. But hee, we have nice views from the balcony of our Ryokan and saved the cruise money!

Usuzan Ropeway

Usuzan is an active volcano which has erupted 4 times since 1900 and the most recent one was in year 2000.The Usuzan Ropeway brought us close to the summit of Usuzan where we saw views of Lake Toya, Usuzan largest crater and Showa Shinzan which was just beside Usuzan. Showa Shinzan was a young mountain which was created by the eruption of Usuzan in 1944.

To get there, we entered the phone number 0142753113 into our GPS and drove from our Ryokan. The journey took around 10 minutes.
Opening hours: Generally 0900 to 1600 (but might be longer in the summer and closed during some weeks in the winter)
Return cost of taking the ropeway: 1500 yen per adult.

The mountain in the picture is Showa Shinzan, you can see it while taking the ropeway up.
The scenery while taking the ropeway up.
At the Usuzan station, there's a small theatre showing a video on the eruptions and volcanic activity history of Usuzan, and how Japanese take precaution of  upcoming volcanic activity.

To see the largest crater of Usuzan and to the hiking trail around Usuzan, we have to climb up this flight of stairs and slopes.
We reached the observation deck after that flight of stairs.
A crater of Usuzan
The Usuzan hiking trail which brings you nearer to the crater
The other side of the station with views of Lake Toya
Before we took the ropeway down, we got the stamp chops on Usuzan!

There were souvenirs shops and a volcano eruption experience room at the ground level of the Usuzan Ropeway station. The volcano eruption experience room will vibrate as
it showed the video of volcanic eruption to let visitors have a feel of what it's like when an eruption happens.

A photo of us and Showa Shinzan.

Before we left Usuzan, we bought a piece of the famous Hokkaido melon for 300 yen. It's very sweet, fragrant and soft. But that's about it, we still think it's a tad expensive.

Free hand and feet Onsen

There're many free hand baths and foot baths in Lake Toya. We went to a hand bath located in front of a hotel.

It felt kinda weird sitting by the roadside and put our hands in the hotel bath and stone there for 5 minutes lol..
The free public foot bath located along the lake.
Konpira Crater Hazard Area

The Japan government has retained a portion of the ruins from the year 2000 Usuzan eruption in the hope that it will educate the people how to lessen the impact of future disasters. It's located just next to the Volcano Museum, near the Visitor Center. Admission is free but there's a donation box at the entrance where you can contribute to the preservation of these ruins. We were told that it's open only from end April to beginning of November.

Following the route, we saw the remnants of the building, and it felt kinda sad, lonely and abandoned while walking through it.

From far the building looks unharmed, but as you walk nearer...
You can see the hardened mud and toppled chairs and tables in it

This part of the bridge was flushed off the main bridge by the mud slide and washed to this position! 
 If you're interested, there's a hiking trail which will lead you nearer to the Konpira crater which erupted in year 2000.

Next to the ruins ground is the Volcano Museum, which will give you more background and history of the volcanic activities and eruptions, and also some facts and history of Lake Toya. Oh, there're stamp chops here again!

At the end of this post, I present... some photos of Lake Toya. Next is our last destination in Hokkaido, Otaru.. Sob Sob..

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