Lake Abashiri Tsuruga Resort: Villas with Private Treehouses in Hokkaido, Japan

Villas, Lake Abashiri Tsuruga Resort, East Hokkaido, Japan

“Hilltop Village Izuba,” the newest lodgings at Lake Abashiri Tsuruga Resort

Japan’s eastern Hokkaido region offers all sorts of opportunities for outdoor adventures. But it wasn’t until my recent winter-time stay at Lake Abashiri Tsuruga Resort that I realized that this area offers opportunities for luxury, too.

Here’s the scoop:

Drift Ice and Villas with Treehouses

Hokuten no Oka Lake Abashiri Tsuruga Resort (which is the resort’s full name) is located near the town of Abashiri, which borders the Sea of Okhotsk. If you visit the region in winter, you can observe an unusual natural phenomenon, known as drift ice. Beginning around February each year, ice drifts south from Russia, forming distinctive ice patterns in the sea. Short icebreaker cruises leave from Abashiri, carving a path in the ice. 

We arrived at the Lake Abashiri resort the night before heading out into the ice. While the hotel has a variety of different room types in its main building, we stayed in the hotel’s separate “Hilltop Village Izuba,” which opened in 2023. This collection of deluxe cottages — villas, really — are designed with steeply peaked roofs, which creates soaring double-height ceilings with sleeping lofts above the main living area.

Some of the villas have a unique feature — their own treehouse next door. Built out of wood using architectural designs typical of the local Okhotsk culture, the treehouses serve as outdoor terraces by day and star-gazing platforms by night.

Villa living room, Lake Abashiri Tsuruga Resort, East Hokkaido, Japan

Living room and bar/kitchenette inside Hilltop Village Izuba

Guest Rooms and Amenities

The villas themselves are luxurious enough to merit a stay, even if there weren’t an adjacent treehouse. On the main floor, each contemporary villa has a large living room with built-in couches and light wood furnishings, including a table, dining chairs, and a bar/kitchenette that’s equipped with a Nespresso coffeemaker, high-tech electric tea kettle, mini fridge, and hot plate. The living room has an LCD TV, and Wi-Fi works well throughout.

The bathrooms are huge, with three separate areas. The largest space has a sink along with beauty store’s worth of bath amenities, from cleansing liquid to skin care gel to hair styling products. A toilet room is adjacent, with a many-featured Toto toilet. The bath/shower room is equipped with a deep soaker tub, shower, and foot wash.

Villa bath, Lake Abashiri Tsuruga Resort, East Hokkaido, Japan

All the products you might need in the luxe villa bathrooms

Upstairs, in the loft-style space that’s partly open to the main floor below, each villa has four low Japanese-style beds, topped with fluffy duvets, in two separate (but not fully private) sleeping spaces. The sleeping area could easily accommodate a family with children.

The one drawback of the sleeping loft arrangement is that you have to make your way down the stairs to use the bathroom. But otherwise, with skylights open to the night skies, it almost feels like you’re stretched out in an indoor treehouse.

Villa loft, Lake Abashiri Tsuruga Resort, East Hokkaido, Japan

The villa lofts sleep up to four.

The hotel stocks all sorts of useful equipment for guests, from extension cords and mobile phone chargers, to yoga mats, playing cards, and telescopes to watch the stars from the treehouses.

Services for Izuba Village Guests

Izuba guests can dine in the main hotel building, which has three restaurants: a buffet featuring regional foods, a French dining room, and a Japanese Kaiseki restaurant. But villa guests also have the option to book a private dinner, served either in a villa or outside around a firepit. Our meal included a delicious array of grilled meats and vegetables, fresh king crab, big meaty scallops, giant shrimp, and other local seafoods.

Seafood, Lake Abashiri Tsuruga Resort, East Hokkaido, Japan

Villa guests can opt for private meals.

Adjacent to the villas is a private sauna for Izuba guests. You can also enjoy the onsen, or hot springs baths, in the main hotel building, which has an additional sauna with massage services as well.

If you’re wondering how to stay warm when you’re walking between your villa and the onsen or sauna, don’t worry. Each villa is stocked with both robes and long, insulated robe-like coats to keep you cozy en route to these spa facilities.

A Warm Welcome and Luggage on Sleds

The staff at Lake Abashiri Tsuruga Resort clearly dote on their guests, whether in the formal bows greeting new arrivals or the meals that they provide, specifically for villa denizens.

And when I was making my way along the snow-covered paths from the villas to the main lobby, a staff member came sprinting toward me with a red plastic sled, insisting on transporting my compact carry-on suitcase for me.

Now that’s a special winter service!

Luggage on the sled, Lake Abashiri Tsuruga Resort, East Hokkaido, Japan

Transporting luggage by sled — that’s service!


Nightly rates for the Hilltop Village Izuba villas are priced per person, including breakfast and dinner, starting at approximately US$200 per night. Rates for a unit with a private treehouse start at only US$25 per person more — a relatively small price for a special Japanese adventure. You can also check for competitive rates and make your reservations through that site.

Interested in more ideas for a northern Japan trip? Hokuten no Oka Lake Abashiri Tsuruga Resort is under the same ownership as Lake Akan Tsuruga Wings Resort, another base for outdoor adventures in eastern Hokkaido.


Hotel feature by Vancouver-based travel, food, and feature writer Carolyn B. Heller. Photos © Carolyn B. Heller. JTB Corp. Hokkaido Branch, in partnership with Lake Abashiri Tsuruga Resort, hosted my stay for review purposes.

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