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Hokkaido's Winter Wonderland - Shikaribetsu Lake In 2018

Hokkaido's Winter Wonderland - Shikaribetsu Lake In 2018

Hokkaido 2017.12.20

This article introduces Hokkaido's Lake Shikaribetsu Kotan Festival, a unique event that can only be experienced in this icy-cold region.

Translated by MATCHA_En

Written by LIFE STYLE, Inc.

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From the southern islands of Okinawa to the northern snow country, Hokkaido, you can see various types of natural landscapes in Japan.

This time we will focus on Hokkaido, introducing a unique event that can only be experienced in this icy-cold region. The area in question is Shikaribetsu Lake, which lies across the regions of Shikaoi-cho and Kamishihoro-cho.

There is a festival held in this area every year called Shikaribetsu Kotan (The Ice Village on Shikaribetsu Lake), during which a small village is constructed out of snow and ice.
Let's take a peak into this magical festival of ice via Google Street view!

The Snow and Ice Village that Appears on the Frozen Surface of the Lake

Shikaribetsu Lake is located in central Hokkaido; the surface of the lake freezes completely during the winter months. Various buildings are then built on top of the thick layer of ice, creating an enjoyable view for visitors to the area. Without further ado, let's take a look at this awe-inspiring winter festival.

Please take a moment to look at Shikaribetsu Lake. Upon the enchanted white snow-scape, a magical winter wonderland awaits you in the form of small ice houses. These charming abodes sit perfectly upon the lake's surface, huddled together like tiny igloos.

These snow homes, in their entirety, form a small village. Actually, the word "kotan" means "village" in the Ainu Language. (*1)

If you move the cursor to the top of the screen, click then drag, you can adjust the viewing angle. Give it a try by clicking around the center of the screen. It's possible to navigate further up the street.

*1 Ainu: The indigenous people of Hokkaido, Japan. The Ainu language differs from standard Japanese.

If you go further down the street, the pointy roofs of these tiny buildings will come into view. This is what the place looks like if you get up close. It's large enough to accommodate 2-3 people.

Now let's look inside.
You will notice a decorative icy pattern gleaming out from the wall of snow. This place might be actually a church of ice!

Is This Bar Really Made of Ice?

Leaving the ice church behind, if you navigate towards the lake, you will notice some more buildings. These structures are comparatively larger than the ones we've just seen.

We can even enter one of them, so let's take a look inside!

You will be taken aback by its spacious interior and tall ceiling. If you look towards the corner, you will notice a bar that is made out of ice.

The bar counter is also made out of a large slab of ice. You will also notice several pillars made up of stacked blocks of ice standing within the structure.

The sheer size of the building is impressive, and you will be surprised to see that the ice is just as translucent as glass.

A Winter Wonderland

What do you think of the Ice Village on Shikaribetsu Lake? The bar made of ice is definitely the pièce de résistance, drawing in crowds of people on a yearly basis. Other attractions include the open-air bath made out of snow and ice.

The Shikaribetsuko Kotan can be viewed from mid-January to the end of March every year. The 2018 edition of this event is scheduled to start on January 27th, coming to a close on March 21st. Those who were intrigued by the images on street view should definitely check out the real thing!
Please access the official homepage of the event for more details.

** This article is a revision and update for 2018 of an article originally published on February 18th, 2016.

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