Roughly midway between Noboribetsu and Niseko lies the body of water named Lake Toya. Travelling from Noboribetsu, most people would probably stop at Lake Toya before moving on to Niseko. We, on the other hand, chose to base ourselves at Niseko and backtrack to Lake Toya for sightseeing. Not the most ideal of planning, but we had matters to sort out at Niseko.
On a hot summer day, visitors to Lake Toya make a mandatory pitstop at Lake Hill Farm to cool off with some gelato and we followed suit. The farm had a lovely garden, but there was absolutely no lake view from there. They had some interesting gelato flavours like Kidney Bean, Blue Salt and Cream Cheese, but I couldn't resist my all-time favourite, Rum Raisin.
Just down the road from Lake Hill Farm was Shikotsu Toya National Park Silo Observation Deck. The observation deck is open from 0830 to 1700 hrs, and from there, one can enjoy a panoramic view of Lake Toya for free.
The downtown area of Toyako had a few shops and restaurants. After wandering around, we settled on ramen at Houraiken. It was a simple ramen joint with a homely feel. The miso ramen was satisfying and I couldn't get enough of the crispy gyozas which were bursting with flavour. Their dinner service is from 1800 to 2030 hrs, which is perfect for tourists waiting to catch the summer fireworks over Lake Toya at 2045 hrs.
From 28 April to 31 October each year, Toyako celebrates summer by lighting up the dark night skies over Lake Toya with colourful, large-flowered fireworks. The show lasts for 20 mins from 2045 to 2105 hrs, and is best enjoyed from the shores of Lake Toya.
Driving the 42km back to Niseko after the fireworks was a little bone-chilling. Ours was the only vehicle travelling in the direction of Niseko at that time of the night. We drove across large tracts of uninhabited farmland in pitch darkness, guided only by our headlights and GoogleMaps. Fortunately, we did not hit any traversing animals, our car did not break down and GoogleMaps continued to work in remote parts. We heaved a collective sigh of relief when we eventually reached our apartment.