UPDATED JULY 2021| In April 2021, the Lake Toya Liaison Council for Promotion of Appropriate Use 洞爺湖適正利用推進連絡協議会 introduced new rules for the use of Lake Toya by the general public. These rules were updated in July 2021. Here, we provide an English translation of the new advice and rules for paddlers, as well as the 18-page published guidebook. We also provide an interactive map so that users can explore the various exclusion zones, zones available for use, and places for launching motorboats.
Last updated Jul 28, 2021
Rules for non-powered vessels (Canoes, SUPs etc)
As of July 2021, there are new rules and official advice in place for non-powered vessels on Lake Toya. Here’s our translation below (original Japanese here).
Lake Toya Non-powered Vessel Rules (Canoes, SUPs etc)
On Lake Toya, accidents due to rough weather and lack of skills are on the increase. In particular, there has been an increase in the number of life-threatening accidents involving paddlers heading to the central island, Nakajima. When using non-powered vessels, please observe the following to avoid accidents.
Users failing to follow the rules for using Lake Toya will be ordered to leave the parking lot you are using. In addition, your use of vessels on Lake Toya may be prohibited.
Rules for using Lake Toya
Life jackets must be worn. SUP users must be equipped with a leash cord.
In the event that you have been drinking alcohol or are otherwise impaired, you are prohibited from operating a non-powered vessel.
It is prohibited to enter routes used by sightseeing ferries.
It is prohibited to disturb or impede the activities of commercial non-powered vessel tours (commercial vessels are equipped with flags).
Other activities that disturb public order and standards of decency are prohibited.
Pointers for avoiding accidents
Use the lake at your own risk – paddlers must be proficient at self-rescue, and must have the sufficient skills to deal with a capsize themselves.
Avoid using the lake alone – travel in groups.
Carry communication equipment (such as a cell phone with a waterproof pack) to ensure a communication system in case of emergency.
Check weather forecasts and lake information, and if the weather changes suddenly, head to shore immediately.
There have been incidents of life-threatening accidents involving paddlers attempting to paddle to Nakajima island. In order to prevent incidents, paddling to Nakajima Island is not recommended.
Wear wetsuits and clothing suitable for the day’s air and water temperature.
If you encounter or witness an accident, promptly report it to the fire department or police.
Date Fire Station Toyako Branch Office – TEL: 0142-76-2119 (119 emergency)
Date Police – EL: 142-22-0110 (110 emergency)
Main Rules and Manners Guidebook Translation
The above leaflet only applies to paddlers. From here, we’ll cover the main 18-page guidebook, which focuses more on powered vessel use (but does mention non-powered craft too).
NOTE 1: HokkaidoWilds.org created this map based on plain images in the Japanese Manual (Hokkaido Wilds backup). You should use this map below as reference only. The pink line in the map we’ve provided below is between 275m and 350m from shore.
NOTE 2: The prohibition on landing on Nakajima Island only applies to motorized vessels. Non-motorized vessels are discouraged, but not prohibited, from paddling to Nakajima Island.
Here’s a PDF topographical map with some of the Rules & Manners details, plus water depths. We created this map here at HokkaidoWilds.org. Locations and areas indicated are approximate. It’s a GeoPDF, so using an app such as Avenza Maps, you can use it to see where you are on the map.
We’ve translated the July 2021 rules as a service to our fellow outdoor-loving, adventure-seeking Hokkaido lovers. If you notice something strange, or think the translation needs improving, please let us know in the comments below.
Use of Lake Toya
Rules and Manners Guide Manual
Lake Toya Liaison Council for Promotion of Appropriate Use
Table of Contents
Lake Toya Overview 3
Leisure Use of Lake Toya 4
Rules etc of Use (Navigation) of Lake Toya 5
Map of the navigable waters of Lake Toya for powered vessels (full area map) 6
洞爺湖 動力船航行水域図（全域図） 6
Map of the navigable waters of Lake Toya for powered vessels (Toya area) 7
洞爺湖 動力船航行水域図（洞爺地区） 7
Map of the navigable waters of Lake Toya for powered vessels (Sobetsu area) 8
洞爺湖 動力船航行水域図（壮瞥地区） 8
Map of the navigable waters of Lake Toya for powered vessels (Toyako Onsen and Tsukiura Districts) 9
洞爺湖 動力船航行水域図（洞爺湖温泉・月浦地区） 9
Map of the navigable waters of Lake Toya for powered vessels (Nakatoya District) 10
洞爺湖 動力船航行水域図（仲洞爺地区） 10
Important considerations before using Lake Toya 11
Important considerations during use of Lake Toya 13
In the event of a water-related accident 14
In the event of a water accident (emergency contact details) 15
Relevant Laws and Regulations 16
Members of the Lake Toya Liaison Council for Promotion of Appropriate Use 17
Lake Toya, located in the Shikotsu-Toya National Park, is a tourist destination that attracts many visitors from Japan and overseas throughout the year, and is also a place of livelihood for local residents who enjoy the benefits of nature through farming, fishing, accommodation and tourism. The area of Lake Toya has been designated as a UNESCO World Geopark as a result of its magnificent and beautiful nature and the geological value of the caldera, which was formed by volcanic activity in ancient times.
In recent years, however, the use of the lake for leisure activities has become more diverse, including water sports. Due to the limited number of places in Hokkaido where people can enjoy leisure activities on the lake, the number of people who enjoy powered boats such as jetskis, as well as non-powered boats such as canoes and SUPs, has been increasing every year.
However, there has been an increase in the number of incidents in recent years, such as irresponsible operation, noise problems caused by jetskis, as well as water-related accidents and mishaps involving non-powered boats. This has led to a strong need for safety measures and self-management on the lake. However, it is a fact that some tourists and local residents have complained about the violation of rules and manners by some lake users. In some cases, there have been violations of the law, such as the unauthorised erection of structures, and the etiquette of lake users has been called into question.
In order to ensure the safety of all visitors to Lake Toya and to ensure they do not cause any inconvenience to the local community, we have prepared this manual to guide you through the basic rules and etiquette for using Lake Toya. Please refer to this manual and follow the instructions and precautions at the various sites to enjoy your leisure time at Lake Toya.
Lake Toya is located in the southwestern part of Hokkaido, as part of the Shikotsu-Toya National Park. It sits in the Toya Caldera, which straddles the towns of Toyako and Sobetsu. The island in the middle of Lake Toya, commonly called Nakajima, is a group of lava domes formed by an eruption. The lava domes are called Oshima, Kannonjima, Bentenjima and Mandojima.
Lake Toya is the ninth largest lake in Japan in terms of area, and the third largest caldera lake in Japan after Lake Kussharo and Lake Shikotsu. It is a roughly circular lake measuring approximately 11km east to west and 9km north to south.
On the southern shore of the lake are two of Hokkaido's most notable hot spring resorts, Toyako Onsen and Sobetsu Onsen. The "Nakajima Tour Boat" operated by Toyako Kisen, which departs from the pier in front of the station in Toyako Onsen, allows visitors to stop by the islands and observe the unique ecosystem uniquely adapted to the caldera environment.
The lake is also used for inland fishing for cherry salmon, damselfish and pond smelt, with hatchery and release operations underway. Boat fishing is prohibited outside the fishing season (1 June to 30 June and 1 December to 31 March) and in the area up to 2km from the shore of Nakashima.
In addition to this, a project has been carried out since 2006 to survey and capture uchida crayfish, a specified invasive species. Activities have also been carried out to protect the lake's water plants and biodiversity, such as setting up crab cages along the entire shore of the lake and monitoring the crab distribution area through diving surveys.
Commercially Operated Vessels, etc.
Vessels belonging to companies that operate passenger transport and non-regular lake services in Lake Toya, that have obtained approval under the provisions of the Sea Transportation Law, also operate in the lake. These vessels are not covered by this manual and might operate in the prohibited areas listed on the following pages.
[Recreational Fishing Use] Fishing from Boats and Fishing from the Shore
Those wishing to fish in Lake Toya must observe the rules and regulations regarding prohibited periods and areas, and purchase a fishing ticket from the designated sales office. For more details, please contact the Toyako Fishery Cooperative Association.
Toyako Fishery Cooperative Association 0142-66-2312
[Camping Use] Camping along the Lakeside
If you wish to camp along the shores of Lake Toya, please check the campsites below. Please note that street parking next to campgrounds is not permitted.
Takarada Camping Ground 0142-82-5777
Naka-Toya Camping Ground 0142-66-3131
Green Stay Toyako 0142-75-3377
There are two public departure/arrival ramps for powerboats, "Toya Area Powerboat Terminal" and "Sobetsu Area Powerboat Terminal (Toya Lake Park Landing Facility)", and two private departure/arrival points, "Kawanami Pier" and "Toya Marine Pier" in Sobetsu Area. For leisure powerboating on Lake Toya, please use the above departure/arrival ramps.
Power-driven vessels must operate only between the hours of 8.00 am and 5.00 pm.
The waters within 300m of the shore of the lake are off limits to powerboats, except when leaving or landing on the shore.
When leaving or landing on the shore, please operate at dead slow (idling speed).
Do not start the engine on land and do not rev boat engines.
The use of power boats with modified silencers is prohibited.
Never dump fuel, oil, etc. in the water.
The operator of the vessel must comply with all applicable maritime regulations.
Regarding the Use of non-powered vessels
Areas more than 300 meters from the lakeshore are used by power vessels, so please exercise caution when padding in these areas.
Do not paddle at night.
Please ensure that there is a lookout on land and a system of communication in the event of an emergency.
Do not park cars on the side of the road.
Rules common to both powered and non-powered vessels
There are exclusion zones and restricted waters in Lake Toya (see Pages 6 to 10).
Do not approach the marked navigation paths of sightseeing boats.
Do not swim in Lake Toya.
Unauthorized installation of buoys, pontoons and other structures is prohibited.
No landing on the island is permitted.
Unauthorized mooring or abandonment of powered or unpowered vessels is prohibited.
Please take care not to frighten wildlife such as swans.
Please take all rubbish home with you.
Please use the lake in consideration of the surrounding natural environment.
Please do not cause any inconvenience to residents, tourists or campground users.
Lake Toya is subject to unpredictable weather phenomena such as gusty winds and unique changes in wind direction. Therefore, please exercise caution and come ashore as soon as possible if the weather or lake condition is likely to worsen.
It is recommended to carry communication equipment (cell phone with waterproof pack, whistle, etc.) when going out on the lake.
■ 湖上に出る際は通信装備（防水パック入り携帯電話、ホイッスル等）の携帯を推奨い たします。
Please make every effort to ensure your safety.
Failure to comply with these rules for the use of Lake Toya may result in the restriction or prohibition of the vessel's operation.
Map of the navigable waters of Lake Toya for powered vessels (full area map)
It is the responsibility of the operator to ensure that the vessel is in compliance with all applicable regulations, including entry-prohibited areas and areas off-limits to particular vessels.
Powerboats are requested to keep dead slow (idle speed) up to 300m from the shore of the lake when leaving or arriving at the shore. Furthermore, powerboats must never engage in dangerous activities such as approaching other vessels or disturbing residents or tourists.
The opening hours of the landing facilities are as follows
8:00 - 12:00 Boat ramp open for use (ramp unlocked at 8am)
◇ ８：００ ～ １２：００ 船揚施設開放（解錠）・航行可能
12.00 - 13.00 Boat ramp closed (return to ramps and all engines must be off)
◇ １２：００ ～ １３：００ 航行は不可（出艇場所へ戻りエンジン停止）
13.00 - 17.00 Boat ramp open for use (ramp locked at 5pm)
◇ １３：００ ～ １７：００ 航行可能・船揚施設閉鎖（施錠）
Note that all vessels must be ready to land 10 minutes before closure of the boat ramp.
In addition to the rules and regulations for the use of Lake Toya, there are also rules and regulations regarding camping, environmental maintenance- and cooperation-fees, etc. Please follow the instructions of the staff at the Toya Powerboat Terminal.
Regarding car parking for Non-powered Vessel users in the Toya Area
For parking, we recommend using the parking lot on the premises of the Lake Toya Canoe Experience House. To avoid disturbing residents and other tourists, please refrain from parking for long periods of time in other parking lots or occupying parking spaces. Please move your car as soon as possible if asked by car park staff.
Sobetsu Area Powerboat Pier, Sobetsu Town Commerce, Industry and Tourism Section 0142-66-4200 (weekdays only)
○ 壮瞥地区動力船乗場 壮瞥町商工観光課 ０１４２－６６－４２００（平日のみ）
Kawanami Pier 090-8272-4189
○ かわなみ桟橋 ０９０－８２７２－４１８９
Toya Marine Pier 0142-75-3467
○ 洞爺マリン桟橋 ０１４２－７５－３４６７
Lake Use Control Area
In order to prevent water-related accidents, Hokkaido has designated areas by ordinance in which the navigation of power vessels is prohibited or restricted. In the Sobetsu area, activities of power vessels are prohibited from July 1 to September 30 (tentative) in the Lake Use Control Area. (Violations will be subject to fines.)
Please refer to the website of the Crisis Management Division of the Hokkaido General Affairs Department for details regarding the designation of water use control areas.
＜Please refer to the website of the Crisis Management Division, General Affairs Department, Hokkaido＞
Are your plans in line with your skills, experience, and the time available in the day?
Have you gathered information about weather and lake conditions?
Are you aware of your physical condition and health?
Have you checked that all legal documents and legally required equipment are on board?
Are you wearing a life vest?
Do you have an emergency contact system in place?
Have you informed your family of your plans and reported your plans to the boat ramp reception desk?
Have you checked your boat and boat's engine before departure?
Make plans commesurate with your skills, experience, and time on hand
Have you checked your planned lake usage zone against the "Lake Toya Navigational Zone Map for Power Vessels" (pages 6 to 10)?
■ 利用水域を「洞爺湖 動力船航行水域図（６～１０ページ）」により確認していますか？
Have you sufficiently checked the topography and water depth?
Does your plan take into account the natural conditions of the lake?
Are you planning to travel in a group?
Acquire information about weather and lake coniditions
Are you up to date with the latest weather and lake information?
Considering worsening weather, do you need to cancel your trip?
Are you observant of local weather lore?
Observational weather forecasting (or, weather lore) is a unique method of weather forecasting based on the characteristics of the local environment and weather changes, using cloud, wind and temperature conditions to predict changes in the weather based on previous experience. Acquiring good information about the local weather conditions from someone who is familiar with the area, such as a boat ramp attendant, can be very useful for short-term weather forecasting when you don't have much recent weather information.
Call 177 to listen to the latest information from the meteorological observatory.
電話番号 １７７ 気象台発表の最新情報が聞けます。
Call 0142-177 to listen to the latest information from the Meteorological Office in the Muroran area.
電話番号 ０１４２－１７７ 室蘭地方の気象台発表の情報が聞けます。
Take care of and be aware of your physical welbeing
Is there a risk that you may not be able to operate the vessel properly due to poor health?
Is there a risk that you may not be able to control the vessel properly due to medication you are taking?
Is there a risk that you may not be able to operate the vessel properly due to alcohol consumption?
Have you checked that all legal documents, legally required equipment, and neccessary accessories are on board?
Is your canoe equipped with flotation bags?
Is your vessel inspection certificate still valid?
Have you got your pilot's licence, ship's inspection certificate, ship's inspection book and other legal documents?
Have you got your life vests, a watche, whistles and other legally required equipment?
Is the ship's inspection certificate correctly attached to the vessel?
Ensure all are wearing personal flotation devices
Are all passengers on board wearing lifejackets?
Do you have more than the maximum number of people on board?
Are all passengers wearing appropriate clothing and protective equipment (e.g. wetsuits) for the season and location?
Ensure you have a means of contact with shore
Do non-powered vessels have a designated lookout person ashore?
Have you informed your family of your proposed route?
Do you have a means of communication with your family etc?
Do you have a mobile phone or radio?
Submit plans and register at boat ramps
Have you signed in with your powerboat at the boat ramp reception?
Pre-trip boat inspection
Are there any abnormalities in the hull?
Has the engine been serviced and/or properly maintained before your trip?
Do you notice any abnormalities after starting the engine?
Important considerations during use of Lake Toya
Do you make every effort to ensure your safety?
Are you following the rules for using the lake?
Are you behaving in a way that may cause danger to other users?
Are you paying attention to the hull and engine while underway?
Are you paying attention to changes in weather and lake conditions?
Do you have a lookout on shore, or other plan of attack regarding communications in case of emergency?
Are you paying attention to the movements of other vessels?
Are you aware of obstructions in and on the water?
Are you aware of your vessel's position?
Are you proactively making yourself known to approaching vessels?
Observing the rules for using the lake
Are you boating in a dangerous area?
Are you boating too close to people?
Are you boating in the vicinity of tourists or fishermen?
Are you showing off or running amok?
Are you approaching a large vessel with a large blind spot?
Did you park your car in the appropriate place?
Are you obeying the rules regarding prohibited lake areas, areas of restricted use, and permitted boating hours?
Are you in a lake area where construction or other work is taking place?
Are you moored to a buoy? (not allowed)
Keeping aware of your vessel's condition
Is there anything wrong with the hull?
Is there anything wrong with the engine?
Keeping aware of changes in weather and lake conditions
Lake Toya is subject to unpredictable weather phenomena such as wind gusts and unusual changes in wind direction. Do you pay attention to the weather and if it is likely to get worse, will you go ashore as soon as possible?
In the unfortunate event that your companion falls into the water, you should immediately do the following.
1. If the casualty is not wearing a life vest, throw in an object that will keep him afloat as soon as possible. It should be as buoyant as possible and have a rope attached to it so that the person can attach himself to it.
2. Determine the location and condition of the casualty. Assess the person's position and situation. In addition to the flotation device thrown to the person, throw in another flotation device also, so that it is difficult to lose sight of the person.
4. If there is a rocky outcrop in the vicinity, attempt to climb up on it if the waves are calm. However, if the waves are rough and there is a risk of you colliding with the rocks, you should move away from them.
In the event of an accident etc where an emergency rescue or search is necessary, the fire department or police will be dispatched upon receiving a call. In order to respond more quickly however, local lake operators may become involved. The fire department or police may also request cooperation from the local operators. In such cases, please keep in mind that the rescued person will have to bear actual search and rescue cost borne by parties involved (other than fire department and police expenses, which are paid for by public funds). Please see more details via the QR codes below.
Maintain ship's inspection certificate, pilot's license, etc. - Violators are subject to a fine of up to 100,000 yen or 200,000 yen, and other penalties.
Prohibition of operating the aircraft while under the influence of alcohol or other conditions that may impair the ability to operate the aircraft normally - Violators will be given points for violations, and if the nature and number of violations exceeds the threshold, administrative action will be taken.
Prohibition of maneuvers which may cause danger to other water users - Violators will be given points for violations, and if the nature and number of violations exceeds the threshold, administrative action will be taken.
Hokkaido Ordinance on the Prevention of Accidents involving Pleasure Boats, etc.
In order to prevent accidents involving power-driven vessels, there are a number of rules that must be observed. They include (but are not limited to):
Prohibition of operating the aircraft while under the influence of alcohol or other substances that may impair the ability to operate the aircraft normally.
Prohibition of manoeuvres which may cause danger to other water users - Violators will be fined up to ¥200,000.
○ 他の水面利用者に危険を生じさせる恐れがある操縦の禁止・・・違反者には20 万円以下の罰金
Natural Parks Act
Lake Toya is located within the Shikotsu-Toya National Park, and its lake surface and central island are designated as a Type 1 Special Area under the Nature Parks Act. In such an area, permission may be required for the felling of trees, the collection of protected plants, the erection of structures, and the alteration of the land forms. Doing so without a permit is punishable by up to six months' imprisonment or a fine of up to ¥500,000.
Lake Toya is part of the Osaru-gawa river system, a second class river. Permission is required for the occupation of land within the river area, as well as for the construction and removal of structures. Unauthorized use is punishable by up to one year's imprisonment or a fine of up to ¥500,000.
This is an administrative regulation for the protection and supervision of forests, and an application for a permit is required for any fires etc. In the event of a forest fire caused by a campfire or open burning, a fine of up to 500,000 yen may be imposed if the fire is found to be caused by negligence.
Invasive alien species that may damage the ecosystem or cause damage to agriculture, forestry or fisheries due to competition with native species are designated as Specified Invasive Alien Species, and their breeding, cultivation, storage, transportation, sale, transfer and importation are regulated. Those who engage in these activities without permission are subject to imprisonment of up to three years or a fine of up to three million yen for individuals, and a fine of up to 100 million yen for corporations. The Uchida crayfish that lives in Lake Toya is designated as a specified alien species.
FREERIDE/SKITOUR: Very subjective, but is a route more-of-a-walk-than-a-ski or the other way around? Some routes are all about the screaming downhill (freeride), some are more about the hunt for a peak or nice forest (ski-tour). Some are in between.
MAIN ASPECT: Which cardinal direction the primary consequential slope is facing, that you might encounter on the route. More details here.
ROUTE TAGS: An eclectic picking of other categories that routes might belong to.
SEARCH BY LOCATION: You can find routes near your current location – just click on the crosshairs (). You may need to give permission to HokkaidoWilds.org to know your GPS location (don’t worry, we won’t track you). Or, type in a destination, such as Niseko or Sapporo or Asahikawa etc.
Please let us know how we can make it easier to narrow down your search. Contact Rob at [email protected] with your suggestions.
English Translation of the Lake Toya Rules and Manners Guide Difficulty Rating
GRADES range from A (very difficult) to D (easy). Hazards include exposure to avalanche and fall risk. More details here. Rating rubric adapted from Hokkaido Yukiyama Guidebook 北海道雪山ガイド.