A Guide to the Best Spots in Hokkaido’s Daisetsuzan National Park

Hokkaido, the vast northernmost prefecture of Japan, is full of tourist destinations that offer different appeals each season. This article introduces Daisetsuzan, a wonderful destination in Hokkaido for both families and experienced travelers to enjoy fantastic views and hot springs.

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What is Daisetsuzan National Park?

Located in the middle of Hokkaido, Daisetsuzan National Park is Japan's largest national park. It has several 2,000m high mountains surrounding Mt. Daisetsu, including ones that are active volcanoes, and is also home to a variety of alpine plants and rare animals. It has an interesting terrain due to volcanic activity, permafrost, and broad expanses of dense woodland, making it a wonderful area for hiking and mountaineering. Visitors who are tired from a day's exploration can rejuvenate themselves by soaking in an onsen (hot spring) at the hot spring towns in the foothills of the area.

Highlights of Daisetsuzan National Park

Asahidake Onsen

This hot spring town is located at an altitude of 1,050m. It is also known as the area with the longest ski season in Japan (November - early May), and is the base for mountaineering in the Omote Daisetsu area. There is also a ropeway gondola from here to the top of Mt. Asahi.

Mt. Tokachi Observatory

This is the base from which to climb Mt. Tokachi in the summer. From the observatory, you can get a direct view of the smoke billowing off Mt. Tokachi, as well as a 360° panoramic view that includes Asahikawa City and Furano City. There is also a 1km walking path for those who want to enjoy a short stroll.

Numa-no-hara High Moor

A marshland with ponds, this area can be accessed by walking approximately 3 hours from the Numa-no-hara trailhead. It is a National Natural Monument that offers breathtaking views of alpine flower fields and perpetual snow. This is a mountain trail for experienced climbers, so be sure to plan and prepare carefully.

Mt. Kurodake and Kurodake Ropeway

This is the easiest mountain to reach the apex of in Daisetsuzan. There is a ropeway gondola and lift to get to the 7th station, and it is about a 1.5 hour walk from there to the top. The summit has fantastic views of snow-capped mountains. It is recommended for first-time hikers and families. You can also ski here in the winter.

Sounkyo Onsen

This is one of Hokkaido's foremost hot spring areas. It is a popular base from which to travel around Hokkaido. At the center of this area is a somewhat unusual hot spring town that was modeled on Canadian mountain resorts. Surrounding it are views of sharp cliffs, called "columnar joints", that were created during the eruption of Mt. Daisetsu 30,000 years ago.

Lake Shikaribetsu

This is the only natural lake in Daisetsuzan National Park, and it just so happens to be the lake with the highest altitude in all of Hokkaido. It is surrounded by an untouched forest that's inhabited by rare animals, such as pika, a small mammal that is said to have existed since the Ice Age. You can enjoy a variety of activities here year-round, such as canoeing and night watching. At the Shikaribetsuko-kotan, which is an event held in the winter every year, you can visit various structures made of snow and ice, such as a chapel, cafe, and bar.

When to Go

If you want to go hiking and mountaineering or enjoy fields of alpine flowers, June and August are the best months to visit. There are signs of fall as early as late August, when snow sometimes falls on the mountain tops. September to June is the area's winter season. This is when diamond dust (ground-level cloud composed of tiny ice crystals) appears around the Base Station of Asahidake Ropeway and the ski slopes open on Kurodake.

How to Get There

The main ways to enter Daisetsuzan are Asahidake Ropeway on the southeast and Sounkyo Kurodake Ropeway on the northwest.
Asahidake Ropeway
About 1 hour from Asahikawa Airport by car or on the Ideyu-go bus (bus from Asahikawa Station that stops at Asahikawa Airport). About 3 hours by car from Sapporo.
Sounkyo Kurodake Ropeway
About 1.5 hours by car from Asahikawa Airport. About 3 hours by car from Sapporo. On the Dohoku Bus, about 2 hours from Asahikawa Station and 30 minutes from Kamikawa Station on the JR Sekihoku Main Line.

Daisetsuzan is an area where you can enjoy hot springs, as well as refreshing views while strolling or climbing in the summer and skiing in the winter. If you're looking for somewhere to get your fill of nature, this is a wonderful place to explore!

*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.

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