Hokkaido: Lake Mashū Volanic Crater・摩周湖

I tried to get around Hokkaido without a car after realising on my 2018 trip that driving on ice wasn’t something I enjoyed or relished doing again. But without a car it’s difficult. Lake Mashū, (摩周湖) a volcanic crater lake in the east, was one of the places I wanted to visit but without my own transportation it would have been more effort than it was worth, especially as the light never does what you want it to do.

So I took the plunge again, hired a 4wd with snow tyres and drove to Lake Akan (阿寒湖) and Lake Mashū. I’m glad I did. With the exception of sliding around on the mountain pass between the lakes driving wasn’t anywhere near as stressful as it was the previous year. I succumbed to the fact that the rear of the car was going to slide around no matter what I did and once I realised that everything was easier.

Lake Mashu, Hokkaido, Japan
Cloudy winter sky over Lake Mashū, Hokkaido, Japan.

Lake Mashū volcanic crater.

I waited in -11°C temperatures for about 2 hours for these photos but the light never really worked to my advantage. That’s fine though. It’s part of a body of work I want to build up over many years so there is no need to rush. The Hokkaido winter really reminds me of the short dark days back in the U.K. Not so much the cold, more the quality of the light and how long it takes for the sun to set. In hindsight I think Lake Mashū is more of a sunrise location but there was no chance of getting there that early from Kushiro in such cold weather while driving in the dark on icy, unfamiliar roads.

Sunset near Lake Mashū, Hokkaido, Japan.
A slow sunset near Lake Mashū.

*That’s not me in the top photograph.

Cycled since I was a kid, moved to Japan in 2001, bought my first 'serious' camera in 2005. Spent the later half of the 1990s travelling in Australia, Hong Kong, India, Nepal, Japan, and the Philippines and wish I'd photographed a lot more back then.