How to get to Lake On-neto, mysterious lake near Lake Akanko in Winter

If you have come to Lake Akan, be sure to also visit Lake Onneto.

Lake Onneto is located at the westernmost end of Akan-Mashu National Park, at the foot of Mount Meakan. It is a beautiful lake with a circumference of 2.5 km that attracts many tourists with its beauty and pristine charm.

Depending on the season, weather, and viewing angle, the lake’s color changes to a clear blue, emerald green, or dark blue, making it a very mysterious lake.

On the west side of the lakeshore, there is a wooden observation deck offering a panoramic view of Lake Onneto with Mount Meakan and Akan Fuji as a backdrop.

Walking trails are developed around the lakeshore, allowing you to enjoy the untouched nature surrounded by virgin forests. Nearby, there are attractions such as the Onneto Hot Falls, Meakan Onsen, and the national campsite, which serves as a starting point for mountain climbing (open from June to the end of October).

Adjacent to the campsite is the Onneto Campsite Rest House, which handles campsite reservations, provides tourist information, offers a rest area, sells and rents outdoor equipment, and serves light meals and snacks.

Additionally, please adhere to the following guidelines as recommended by the tourist association:

Under the Natural Parks Act, the use of motorboats and snowmobiles on Lake Onneto is restricted. To maintain the lake’s inherent tranquility and primitive scenery, we also ask for your cooperation in refraining from using non-motorized boats like canoes or engaging in water sports such as swimming.

How to access

Road Closures for Route 949 (Onneto Line) and Route 664 (Moashoro Genya – Rawan – Ashoro Station Line) in Winter

During the winter season, Route 949 (Onneto Line, beyond Meakan Onsen) and Route 664 (Moashoro Genya – Rawan – Ashoro Station Line) are closed to traffic. But you can still access Meakan Onsen.

Note: If you plan to go beyond Meakan Onsen, which means Nonaka Onsen(野中温泉), in winter, you will need equipment such as snowshoes. Since there are dangerous areas off the walking trails and on the lake, it is recommended to join a guided tour or participate in events organized by the Ashoro Tourist Association.

Be aware that there is no cell phone reception in the area, and it takes a long time for emergency assistance to arrive, especially in winter.

Route 949 (Onneto Line) is closed to traffic from early December to early April every year.

Route 664 (Moashoro Genya – Rawan – Ashoro Station Line) is closed to traffic from early November to early May every year.

Can I go to Lake Onneto in winter?

The answer is YES!

You can access Nonaka Onsen by car in winter. I recommend a 4WD vehicle because of much snow.

After parking your car, put on snowshoes or boots and walk to the lake. The distance is about 2.5 km, but due to the snow, it takes around 40 minutes in winter.

The weather can change suddenly, so be sure to carry water, some food, and gear to keep yourself warm. As you walk along the winding path and come to an open snowfield, you will have arrived at Lake Onneto.

When walking on the lake, it is recommended to have a nature guide accompany you. They are knowledgeable about the weather conditions and can guide you to the best spots for a great experience.

If you are not accompanied by a guide, do not push yourself too hard. There is a risk of the ice suddenly breaking, so be very careful. Since there is no cell phone reception in this area, you cannot call for emergency rescue. Enjoy your time responsibly.

There is no toilet around the lake

Make sure to use the restroom beforehand, or carry a portable toilet with you. Portable toilets are available at convenience stores and drugstores.

  • Meakan Onsen Public Toilet just near Nonaka Onsen
  • Onneto Campsite Toilets (Onneto National Campsite Management Building Toilet (24 hours) and UPI Onneto Toilet (daytime only))

About Lake Onneto Surrounding Walking Paths

Observatory Course

An entrance opposite the Onneto Observation Deck leads to a viewpoint after about 800 meters of ascent. From the observatory, you can see Lake Onneto and Mount Meakan. This path is similar to a short mountain climb, so suitable footwear and stamina are required for walking. The route from the observatory leads towards the entrance to the campsite.

Onneto East Bank Course

A 1.6 km course that circumnavigates the eastern bank of Onneto. There is a junction along the way that leads to the Meakan Onsen Course. On the north side, there is a point where a stream from Kinunuma merges with Onneto, allowing you to enjoy changes in color. It’s charming to see Onneto from various locations with different expressions. Besides Akamatsu (Japanese red pine), there are broadleaf trees such as Nanakamado (rowan) and Itaya kaede (maple). This course connects to the Onneto National Campground.

Akamatsu (Japanese Red Pine) Pure Forest Course (Meakan Onsen Course)

A 2.2 km course connecting from the Meakan Onsen Municipal Parking Lot (with toilets) to the middle of the Onneto East Bank Course. Enjoy the change in vegetation as you approach the Akamatsu pure forest and Onneto. You can also see mosses such as Mou sen goku. As Meakan Onsen is higher and Onneto is lower, if you progress from the Onneto side, it will be uphill.

Yunotaki (Hot Waterfall) Course

A approximately 1.4 km course from the parking lot at the southern end of Onneto (with toilets) to Yunotaki. Compared to other walking paths, this one is wider, allowing you to leisurely explore the nature surrounding Onneto. There is a slight uphill slope towards Yunotaki.

Map of the Onneto and Mount Meakan Area

About the Freezing of Lake Onneto

According to the tourist association,

In years when several conditions, such as little snowfall around late November to early December, align, you can witness beautiful ice formations. You may see stunning sights like the lake murmuring, ice bubbles, and the reflection of Mount Meakan on the frozen lake surface.

There are spots on the lake where gas or hot springs bubble up, causing the ice to be thin or nonexistent. Additionally, the thickness of the ice on the lake varies depending on the year and season, so please be cautious not to fall into the water or drop items onto the lake surface (as items dropped cannot be retrieved permanently due to the inability to access with non-motorized boats such as canoes).

To see the fully frozen lake

Unfortunately, I haven’t seen it myself! However, according to reports, the lake freezes completely when there is an extremely harsh cold spell from late November to December before heavy snowfall. It’s often featured on TV, and the clear surface of the frozen lake is truly breathtaking!

Various weather conditions need to align for this phenomenon to occur, and encountering it is truly a stroke of luck, something you might only witness once in a lifetime.

see youtube video by Shinji Kawamura.