• Inquire about Lake Shumarinai with people outside of Hokkaido, and a blank stare is a common response. Located approximately 90 km north of Asahikawa City, this man-made lake is a hard to reach remote location, yet one of the most beautiful lakes in Japan. As a tourist destination, it offers all-year round fun including outdoor activities of various sorts and a chance to truly get away from a hectic urban routine.

    Lake Shumarinai came about when the Uryu Dam was built in 1940, creating a lake 30 times the size of Tokyo Disneyland. During the construction, and based on local stories, the Sakhalin Taimen or Ito fish living in the river got caught in the dam, giving the lake its claim to fame. Nowadays, and especially during the warmer month of the year, this is one of the best spots in the country for anglers to come, put their fly fishing skills to the test, and catch one of these rare fish. Along with the Ito, other sought out fish at Lake Shumarinai are the trout and the wakasagi (or smelt) which unlike the protected Ito, can be enjoy on a barbecue on or around the lake.

    Along with fishing, there are various other water and outdoor activities drawing adventure seekers to this beautiful lake. During the spring and summer the pristine waters, and the countless inlets, are the perfect setting to paddle around on a canoe or a kayak, as well as enjoying a dip in the freshwater lake. During the winter, as the extreme cold temperatures roll in, (-41 celsius being the coldest on record) and the heavy snowfalls arrive, the frozen lake turns into an awesome endless track to test the speed limit of a snowmobile or retrofitted motorbike. According to the locals, this is where you find the best snow in all of Japan; powdery, light, dry, and seemingly never ending. What they say is not far from the truth, as speeding across the lake on a snowmobile feels more like floating on a cloud.

    Due to its remoteness, the accommodation options at Lake Shumarinai are also very limited. The few options that exist though, are well equipped to provide outdoor enthusiasts with memorable experiences. Visitors ought to head to the southern area of the lake and to Shumarinai Doritsu National Park. Several lake houses offer lodge-style accommodation of varying styles, although for the closest access to the water or ice, Lake House Shumarinai is the best option. Once the snow is gone and the temperature rises back to a soothing level, Shumarinai Kohan Campground is the perfect spot to pitch a tent.

    To get to Lake Shumarinai, take a JAL flight from Haneda Airport to Asahikawa Airport. From there the best way to get to the lake is by car. Renting a car is a good way to go about it, but to avoid any hassles on the road, especially in the winter, it is best to coordinate the transportation with the lodge. Whatever the season, Lake Shumarinai is sure to provide a true taste of Hokkaido’s outdoor experiences and is an unforgettable travel adventure.

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