I opened the door and stepped out into the heat. Leaving my coat in the car, I started towards the beginning of the trail marked by a large standing wooden sign. The Shiretoko Goko-lakes (知床五湖), also known as the five lakes, are a collection of lakes which were formed when the area of Mt. Iwo blew and left dents on the land which filled with water; the first of which could be reached by an elevated wooden path and viewing decks, but the remaining four being only accessible by foot and with a guide.
The elevated wooden walkway was a work of Japanese genius – it left the scene virtually untouched, with visitors looking out from observation decks while ezo sika (Sika deer) graze peacefully below, their short little tails twitching time to time to address the tickle of the occasional summer fly. Little pools of water irrigated the landscape, funnelled underground from the Shiretoko mountain range which lined the horizon, still visibly snowcapped from the winter.