Daisetsuzan National Park: Mt. Asahidake, Sounkyo
Daisetsuzan National Park located in the middle of Hokkaido is the largest national park in Japan covering a total area of 230,000 hectares which has a chain of many 2,000m-class mountains. It is said that “Climb Mt. Fuji and talk about the height of the mountain; climb Mt. Daisetsu and talk about the scale of the mountain.” There is a cable car lifting you to a hiking course halfway up the mountain so that you can enjoy its actual nature such as the beautiful peaks, clear ponds, alpine plants and so on. The Ainu used to call the large area “Kamuimintara”, which means the playground of the gods.
I would like to recommend a cable car “Asahidake Ropeway” to visit Mt. Asahidake, the highest mountain in Hokkaido. It takes about 10 minutes to go from Asahidake-onsen Hot Spring at the foot of the mountain to the station halfway up the mountain, and you can see the primeval forest below your eyes during the ride. There is a hiking course around the upper station so that you can enjoy actual nature which the Ainu called “the playground of the gods”. When I visited on a fine day in early summer, I was able to see a great view of the magnificent mountains including Mt. Asahidake, mirror-like clear ponds, natural flower garden of alpine plants with remaining snow, and sulfurous vents that emit steam and gas. You can also enjoy climbing Mt. Asahidake, and it takes you about 2 hours to get to the top.
After a hike in the mountain, it must be great experience for you to relax in Asahidake-onsen Hot Spring at the foot (I enjoyed one-day bath service at Yukomansou) and visit Taisetsu Asahidake Gensui to drink pure water created by the melting snow of the mountains. The water is so pure that there is no public water system in this town and I found many visitors taking this water.
Sounkyo Gorge (Mt. Kurodake)
Sounkyo Gorge is famous for its magnificent cliffs scenery along the Ishikari River in Daisetsuzan National Park. Particularly, Obako as well as Kobako offers view of the most beautiful rock formation in Sounkyo. The two beautiful waterfalls, Ginga Falls and Ryusei Falls, cascading down the cliff are also popular. Although you can see each of them from the walking path near the parking lot, I would like to recommend a small observatory “Sobakudai” in the mountain across the river where you can watch both waterfalls at the same time. It takes about 20 minutes to walk from the parking lot to the observatory.
There is Sounkyo-onsen Hot Spring near the gorge, and it is not difficult for you to find an accommodation. There is also a cable car “Sounyo Ropeway” which takes you to the station halfway up Mt. Kurodake so that you can enjoy climbing the mountain.
Many tourists rent a car at Asahikawa Airport to visit this area.
Let me introduce my travel route in 2015 for your reference. After visiting Akan National Park and Kushiro, I moved to the guesthouse “Cress” in Biei via Sounkyo Gorge to enjoy sightseeing in Mt. Asahidake as well as Biei, Shirogane and Furano. Please note that the travel route below is a little complicated because I often had to interrupt or change the schedule of a day trip depending on the weather.
|1||Shibecha -> Sounkyo -> Biei (car): rainy||Sounkyo Gorge||Biei|
|2||around Biei (car): rainy||Takushinkan Photo Gallery||Biei|
|3||around Furano and Biei (car)||Farm Tomita
|4||around Shirogane and Biei (car)||Blue Pond
Shirogane-onsen Hot Spring
|5||around Mt. Asahidake (car): rainy||Mt. Asahidake
Taisetsu Asahidake Gensui
|6||Biei -> Mt. Asahidake -> Next (car)||Mt. Asahidake|