Ice walking over a frozen lake in Chitose
We highly recommend “ice walking” for those who are planning a trip to Hokkaido in the wintertime. Simply put, ice walking is an activity that involves walking on a sheet of ice (usually a frozen body of water) while wearing a waterproof drysuit. There’s plenty of thrill from walking on ice and diving into the water. This article will go more in-depth about the activity itself, as well as Chitose, the location for ice walking.
Ice walking in Chitose
One popular destination for ice walking in the Chitose area is at Lake Shikotsu. Known for having the highest quality of water in Japan for the last 11 years as well as Japan’s 2nd deepest lake at 363 meters, Lake Shikotsu is interestingly not too well known for ice walking. The lake rarely freezes over, but Basho Trip will introduce an ice walking package that will bring visitors to the lake at the rare time that it does freeze over.
Lake Shikotsu is accessible from Chitose Airport (40 min drive + many modes of transportation), so this package can be enjoyed by large groups who might find it difficult to get around by a rental car.
Different ways to enjoy Lake Shikotsu
In addition to ice walking, visitors can simply enjoy the natural beauty of Lake Shikotsu, or if the timing is right, an ice festival called the Hyoto Matsuri that takes place from late January to mid-February.
Lake Shikotsu is also home to many natural hot baths and restaurants which will keep visitors warm during the cold winter.
Fun ways to enjoy ice walking at Chitose
There are many ways to enjoy your time at Lake Shikotsu.
One way is to find a cracked opening on the thin ice and dive headfirst through the ice, and into the water.
Some visitors also sumo wrestle on the ice until one person falls through the ice. Simply swimming through the body of water is another way to enjoy it as well!
Who can participate in ice walking?
This activity is open to people from ages 10 to 70, with a minimum height requirement of 140cm. Those who are pregnant or have a lasting sickness cannot participate in ice walking, just as a heads up. Although the drysuits that visitors wear during ice walking is waterproof, please refrain from participating if you’re not feeling well or recovering from a recent sickness. As stated earlier, Lake Shikotsu also is the 2nd deepest lake in Japan, so participants who are not confident in their swimming abilities are encouraged to think twice before participating.
What kind of gear is needed?
Most of the gears needed for ice walking are included in the rental service. We ask visitors to bring a towel, a thin inner layer (to be worn under the drysuit), and a couple of pocket warmers. Valuables can be stored at the free rental lockers on-site.
Please be sure to come dressed in warm clothing – you don’t want to catch a cold during your trip to Lake Shikotsu!
Ice walking can only be enjoyed at Lake Shikotsu – please be sure to check it out during your visit to Hokkaido!