Visit the Most Beautiful Crater Lake in Japan, the “Lake of Five Colors”

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  • Okama (御釜) is considered as the most beautiful crater lake in Japan by many travel websites. It is present on the Zao Mountains (蔵王連峰) which is one of the 100 greatest mountains in Japan.

    Mt. Zao

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    Mt. Zao is an active volcano situated in Northern Honshu (本州), somewhere between the Miyagi (宮城県) and Yamagata Prefectures (山形県). Characterized by steep slopes and layers of lava, ash, and craters called calderas, Mt. Zao is a stratovolcano or a composite volcano which was formed by multiple erosions. It has erupted 26 times up to the present, the last one being on February 15, 1895. It is covered in snow in winter and is a popular ski destination among locals and tourists. It is famous for many natural wonders such as the Okama crater lake and the “Snow Monsters (樹氷).” The Snow Monsters are nothing but heavily frozen Aomori fir trees (アオモリトドマツ) which take unique forms due to the dense snow that covers it.


    The Okama Lake is also called as Goshikinuma (五色沼) which means “lake of five colors” since the lake can change its color depending on the amount of sunlight its water reflects. Usually, the lake is in green color and was formed due to a volcanic eruption in 1182. Since then, it has become a famous spot. The views are mesmerizing and it surely is the most beautiful crater lake in Japan. It had a depth of 63 meters when it was first measured in 1939, but due to nearby cliff walls falling, the depth has been reduced significantly. The waters of Okama are highly acidic in nature and are not capable of sustaining any life. Okama is open for visit in spring to autumn and there are many viewpoints where one can take nice pictures of the lake.

    How to Get There

    To get to Okama, one has to drive the up until the park of Peak Restaurant. There are many shuttle buses available from JR Shiroishi-Zao Station (白石蔵王駅) which may take around an hour and 45 minutes to reach the peak. One has to walk some distance to get to the viewpoint from the Peak Restaurant. There are also a few onsens near Yamagata Station (山形駅) if you plan to stay the night and plan to visit the crater the next day.

    Do pay a visit to the most beautiful crater lake in Japan and take the best fun out of nature. You can contact the Zao Tourist Association for more detailed information.

    Okama Information

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    Enjoy Winter With the Snow Monsters of the Zao Mountains in Japan!