Asahidake/Daisetsu San mountain adventures
2 Jun, 2010
Asahidake is the tallest peak of the Daisetsusan mountain group in the Daisetsusan national park and is the highest mountain in Hokkaido. It is a mountain for all seasons and a visit there at any time of the year is rewarding. Late spring through summer the hiking is fantastic, in autumn the colors of fall spectacular and in winter you can find some of the driest powder on the planet.
Throughout the year Asahidake is serviced by a 100-person gondola that takes you to a large plateau at 1600m. For those not wanting to ski or hike the ropeway provides a great way to experience alpine Japan and in autumn is a great way to view the fall colors. The ropeway is closed May 7th to 19th for maintenance.
The skiing and snowboarding on Asahidake is excellent particularly for those willing to hike, there are a limited number of groomed runs and some of the terrain accessed by the ropeway is a lot of fun. The Mountain does however have a number of flat spots and a lot of time is spent getting to and from the lift. However the snow is amazing and backcountry opportunities abound, so if you are in there area a trip here is well worthwhile. Be warned beginner terrain is limited and the experience more suited to the enthusiast.
At all times of year there are impressive volcanic vents bellowing columns of steam, two of which are viewable just a short walk from the top of the ropeway. In summer there is an observation deck that looks to these vents and over a large tarn. Hiking to the summit of Asahidake is reasonably easy if you start from the top of the ropeway and takes between one or two hours to reach the top. There are also several shorter trails to explore near the ropeway station offering fantastic views of the landscape and alpine wildflowers.
At the foot of the mountain there is a very small village named Asahidake onsen. It comprises of a couple of hotels, a camping ground, an excellent visitors center (information regarding alternative hikes such as the one from Asahidake to Sounkyo can be found here), Onsens and a Hostel. There are a limited number of restaurants to be found in the hotels and at the ropeway station.
Access to the village is via car or bus from Asahikawa. By car it takes just over an hour and by bus just under two. From Sapporo to Asahikawa the JR or car is the best option. For hostel info contact the email listed below.
Daisetsu-Zan Shirakabaso YH