19th February: Hokkaido – Lake Kussharo (Sunayu, Day 2)

In the mid-afternoon we returned to Sunayu beside frozen Lake Kussharo.

There was a whole line of canoes, waiting patiently beside the lake.  I didn’t notice anyone at the time trying to canoe across the ice, perhaps fortunately for them.

Rather than staying with the swans again, some of us decided to go for a walk along the lake.

Snow, ice and water

Snow, ice and water. Reminds me of aerial photos I’ve seen of ice sheets in the Arctic.

Snow and ice

The edge of the lake in thermal mist

Snow and ice

Ice crystals above water containing stones and fallen leaves

There was a myriad of miniature waterscapes beside the lake.

A tree and the view across the lake

Looking up…

Looking up…

By now it was late in the afternoon and the light was getting low.

Whooper swans communing

Whooper swan in reflected sunset

As the sun was going down, it was creating a luminous glow on the water.

Whooper swans in reflected sunset

Whooper swan in reflected sunset

Whooper swan in reflected sunset

… and for a short period, the light on the water became particularly intense.

Feeding time

He’s certainly got their attention.

Whooper swan

Whooper swans

19th February: Hokkaido – Lake Kussharo (Kotan, Day 2)

Against the light

After breakfast and a gap of some hours, we returned to Kotan, where we had been the previous day.

Looking North, along the lake

Whooper swans and thermal steam

Owl art

The owl is on the wall of the Juyo Original House, as in the previous Kotan post.

Walking …

While we were there, someone, perhaps a local, walked out across the lake on the ice and disappeared into the distance.  One hopes there are no weak points in the ice in the middle of the lake.  If you can’t see him, click on the image for a larger view.

19th February: Hokkaido – Lake Kussharo at Dawn from Bihoro Pass

Lake Kussharo before dawn

This is half an hour before dawn and the temperature is about -20˚C (-4˚F).  You can see the crescent moon high in the sky.

Kotan and Sunayu (see previous and next posts) are on the far side of the lake.  Kotan is at the mid-right behind a small peninsula and Sunayu is behind Naka Island, near the right tip of the island.

Lake Kussharo at dawn

The sun is now peeking through over the horizon.   The exposure is 8 stops less than half an hour before so the level of light is 256 times greater.

Previously we climbed up to the viewpoint of the lake from the parked bus.  These frosty trees in falling snow are on the way back down.

Now we are further back down the hill, near the bus.  Due to the change in elevation, the sun once again was just peeking out over the distant hills.

The angle of view of these five images varies considerably.  The first two used a 14mm lens, which is a diagonal angle of view of 114˚.  The middle one used a 300mm lens which has an angle of view of 8˚ and the last two were at the equivalent of a 450mm lens which is a 6˚ angle of view.

18th February: Hokkaido – Lake Kussharo (Sunayu)

After leaving Kotan, we made a short journey to Sunayo, further up the lake.  Here there is a large parking lot and a cafeteria, where we stopped for lunch.  There were many whooper swans in the warm thermal waters beside the lake.

I was sitting on the edge of a small wooden wharf here.  A young swan, on the extreme left, was nibbling round the end of my boot.

The swans were converging.  The top two exposures are with the light, the next two against the light.  I was told that the people who run the cafeteria have been instructed not to feed the swans, but continue to do so in the interests of their business.

… So, while the feeding was going on, there was quite a bit of competition for the offerings…

… and then it was quiet again ….

… until it came time to leave ….

18th February: Hokkaido – Lake Kussharo (Kotan)

Spa at Lake Kussharo

Instructions for the spa

We stopped at a tiny hamlet called Kotan near the southern end of Lake Kussharo in the centre of Eastern Hokkaido.  This is a natural open air hot springs at the edge of the lake with a man-made hot spa, males to the right, females to the left and a line of rocks in the middle.  Instructions on a board nearby warn against excessive divestment of clothes. But this is not how it used to be.  I saw a historic photograph nearby that showed a mixed group of naked people soaking in an undivided pool, probably in the 1920s.

Rocks, tree, swans and ice

Whooper swans at Lake Kussharo

You might be thinking “it’s not a very large body of water to be called a lake” but that’s not it.  Most of the lake is covered in ice and it goes right across to the distant mountains.

Whooper swans

Whooper swans

Of course, the water at the side of the lake is warm because of the hot springs and that’s why the swans are there.

I went for a short walk beside the lake and in places struggled through quite deep snow.  I took all the images in this thread with my pocket camera, a Fujifilm X100.

Juyo Original House

Back near the bus, I found this ancient house that doubled as a local museum and a shop for hand-carved souvenirs. Inside was the wood carver, a charming gentleman who spoke good English.  I bought a small carved owl to take home.  You can see a couple of wooden owls at the peak of the roof.