Hokkaido is jam-packed with natural beauty at every turn, however Mount Asahidake is often not the first destination on a traveller’s list when arriving in the region. On my first visit to Hokkaido with my family in summer, I had a goal to hike some of the most stunning trails in the country. Here is a list of the “must do” experiences in the middle of Hokkaido, covering the best hikes, viewpoints and attractions.
Mount Asahidake is the highest peak (2,291m) in Daisetsuzan National Park which is Hokkaido’s biggest national park. We started our hike by taking the Asahidake Ropeway to Sugatami Station (the ropeway upper station is situated 1,600m above sea level) and followed an attractive, 30-60 minute circular trail passing some ponds and the best viewpoints to see Daisetsuzan National Park. The hike itself was not particularly physically challenging, but you need to bring your trekking shoes or jogging shoes at least.
Asahidake Hot Spring Village
Once you arrive in the middle of Hokkaido, the most logical base to choose is Asahidake hot spring village, the start point of the Asahidake Ropeway. There are 7 accommodations from wooden lodges to large hotels.
Daisetsu Asahidake Spring Water
Considered one of the purest water supplies in Japan, the water from the melting snow of the Daisetsu Mountain ranges is used as both drinking water and agricultural water. We went to Daisetsu Asahidake Gensui Water Park to get drinkable water on the way to the Chubetsu Dam. You can also drop off at Yukomanso lodges in the Asahidake hot spring village to fill your bottles with the pure water from the Daisetsu Asahidake.
Higashikawa town, with a population of about 8,000, is located approximately 30 minutes west of the Asahidake hot spring village. It is the only town in Hokkaido which does not rely on a public water supply system as it uses underground water provided by the water that flows down from the Daisetsu Mountain Ranges. The water temperature is a constant 6-7°C throughout the year and you can enjoy the water from a hand pump placed in public parks in Higashikawa town. You’ll want to spend your day wandering the area by foot so you can soak up the people and place that make this quirky little area what it is.
After a few days in the Asahidake hot spring village it is time to hit the road and make tracks to the Asahiyama Zoo: one of Japan’s most beloved zoos. The journey will take less than one hour in total without stops. The design of the enclosures is unique and helps to support about 150 kinds of animals to survive in the challenging environment of northern Japan. You can observe the animals underwater movements from various angles through a glass tunnel or from small glass domes.