The Black Mountain and Sounkyo
22 Jul, 2010
Sounkyo is a small mountain village mostly made up of Onsen hotels situated just 40 minutes east of Asahikawa. Not surprisingly the main tourist draw card here is the abundance of hot springs or Onsens, the second draw card is Kurodake, or Black Mountain as it translates.
The town itself is very small, you will find 2 convenience stores, the odd gift shop and a number of large hotels. The town’s surroundings are spectacular and quite unlike other alpine scenery found in the region. Rugged mountainsides jut up from the valley floor and the headwaters of the mighty Ishikari river tumble down the edge of the highway.
Kurodake has a ropeway that runs throughout the year and takes you from the valley floor to just over halfway up the mountain. The views from the ropeway alone are spectacular but making the trek to the summit (1984m) is well worth the effort. Walking from the base of the ropeway, round trip to the summit will take about 7-8 hours.
The trail to the summit is well worn, steep in places and often quite busy. Many people are drawn to the mountain by the vast array of wild flowers that grow here. The autumn colors also draw people in great numbers and the Kurodake area is one of the first places to see the leaves change in Hokkaido.
Another attraction found nearby is the two amazing waterfalls Ginganotaki and Ryuseinotaki. These falls are about 3km up the valley and are really quite spectacular. They are equally spectacular in winter when they are frozen. For more information on Sounkyo in the winter check our ski resort section.
Around the town you can often see native Hokkaido deer and foxes, both of these usually at night. and while hiking you will also undoubtedly see or hear the knock, knock, knock of the black woodpecker. Trout fishing is also possible here, try fishing the Ishikari between Sounkyo and Kamikawa.
Sounkyo is found on route 39 and can be accessed from the IC toll way, from Sapporo or Asahikawa. Many hotels have a free pick up service from Asahikawa and some from Sapporo. It is approximately a 3hour drive from Sapporo, but it is substantially quicker if you take the IC toll road. The closest JR station is Kamikawa and you can catch a bus from here to Sounkyo.