I was told that staying at the Wakoto Camping site next to Lake Kussharo was a good idea at the Asakusa Smile hostel in Tokyo. That was a great tip
The next morning I woke up early because the sun was already up around 4:30. I got out of the tent and saw why this place had felt so right and why the guy I had met at the Tokyo hostel had recommended this place to me. Not only was the lake beautiful and quiet, there was also a mysterious mist hanging above it, adding to the peaceful and mysterious nature of the lake. But that wasn't all. Because I arrived in the dark I hadn't noticed it the day before, but the lake was entirely surround by big hills with snowy tops. I was completely in awe with the beauty of this place. It took me a few minutes to realise I was standing in the freezing cold without clothes on. I went back into my tent and slept a couple more hours, dreaming about this place I had just seen.
A few hours later it was getting warm again and it was time to leave my tent and discover all I could about this place.
At 5 in the morning it is already light, but the lake is very quiet and misty
I started by walking around a small peninsula that was near the camping. In 30 minutes I had walked around it AND discovered the Onsen that was there. I had finally found a real Onsen that I would go in later. But I wanted to walk around the entire lake first. From the peninsula it had looked like the other side of the lake wasn't that far away, but after 30 minutes of walking I realised that the other side I had seen was only a big island in the lake. I reached the Prince hotel quit quickly and was allowed to use the internet there. I send a few "I am ok" messages and tried to find a way to go from Hokkaido
to China by plane or by ferry (a tip from Gilles vandenPeereboom). Flights from Hokkaido were about 2000 dollar so I decided to take the ferry.
The first Onsen that I actually saw from up close (and used later). Thank you vulcano
That meant I had to go all the way back to Shimonoseki
(2500 km away on the opposite side of Japan) though.
It felt good having all my plans sorted and the walk around the lake was long, but beautiful. Every time I walked around another bay or took another corner the view on the other side of the lake changed and while I was walking in a big circle around the lake I was also walking in a big circle around the inner island. The more I walked the more I saw of the mountains that had been hidden by the inner island. After about 6 hours I was at about 3/4 of my walk around the lake when the path went in the complete opposite direction of where I wanted to go. I didn't want to go there but walking back for 6 hours didn't seem appealing either.
Even at a camping site you will find a temple
When a car with fishers passed by they stopped and when I told them I was walking around the lake they were amazed. They also told me I was going to have to take a 20 km detour before i could go back to my walk around the lake again. While they were laughing at my sad face they told me they were going to my camping and offered me a ride. I gladly accepted and was back in time at the lake to see a nice sunset.
The camping had a small shop were I got some rice and some actual meat with sauce to put on it. I spent some time reading in my tent and when I was getting cold I went to the Onsen to take a bath. The Onsen was a small pool, attached to the lake that was filled with ice-cold meltwater from the mountain. The water inside the Onsen could flow in and out of the lake on 1 side.
The vulcano heats the molten water that comes down from the mountains and fills the lake. That is how at some very specific places the water isn't freezing cold but crazy warm
But instead of being ice cold the Onsen was heated by a small vulcanic crack and got really really hot. Other people at the Onsen were only putting their feet in the steaming water so I was a bit disappointed that I wouldn't be taking a bath here. As soon as I put my feet in a realised why that was all everyone was doing. The water was so hot that it actually hurt my feet at first so I pulled them out immediately. It took 10 minutes before I had gotten used to the temperature enough to keep my feet in all the time. I started pulling up my pants so I could slowly put more and more of my legs in the water. By the time I was comfortable enough with the heat to take of my pants and sweater I was all alone and I could finally take that bath. There is nothing I can compare this with.
A wild Onsen, warm water, but not reachable by humans
No bath or sauna comes close to this feeling. The water is so pure and your body is so entirely heated from the core that you feel almost one with the Onsen. I was just sitting there, watching the lake and seeing the shades of the mountains, remembering everything I had done so far in Japan. I also realised that I had experienced Japan as much as I would and that it would be ok to move on to the next country. After getting out of the Onsen you don't feel the outside cold at all. I took forever to dry myself and to walk back to the tent. I had been shivering with the cold while walking to the Onsen, but now I was feeling perfectly warm untill I woke up the next morning