Nestled in a remote area of Hokkaido island, surrounded by lush forest on all sides and untouched by human civilization, Lake Toyoni (豊似湖) is a hidden gem among Japan’s many tourism attractions.
It is a freshwater lake at about 260 m elevation in Erimo town located in the southeastern distriction of Tomakomai city.
Up until a few years ago, it was virtually unknown to most Japanese, but a popular television commercial featuring an aerial view of the heart-shaped natural wonder turned it into a popular tourist spot virtually overnight.
Of course internet is full of digitally-altered heart-shaped lakes, or heart-shaped in perspective, but Toyoni is one of the few (if not the only one) in the world that actually has this shape.
Originally known as Kamuito, literally “A Marsh Where a God Lives”, the 30-hectare emerald lake was eventually given its current name in honor of the nearby Mt.Toyonidake (豊似岳) .
However today most people know it as “Heart Lake”, because of its unique shape.
Seeing Lake Toyoni from the air is always a breathtaking experience, but the best time to enjoy the stunning aerial view is in mid-autumn, when the green forest surrounding it changes to various hues of red and brown.
And when, a local company operates a helicopter tour over the lake in the month of October.
While taking to the air is the most popular way of experiencing Japan’s heart-shaped lake, some people prefer the serenity of its shores.
To reach its peaceful, emerald waters, tourists have to trek to a deep protected forest, that is home to many wild animals including a large population of brown bears.
Images from web – Google Research