Daisetsuzan National Park 大雪山国立公園
The garden of the gods in the heart of Hokkaido
In the heart of the island of Hokkaido, more than 220,000 hectares of untamed nature promise visitors a timeless outing, out of the world. This promise is called Daisetsuzan.
Visit Japan's largest national park
Daisetsuzan Park (or Taisetsuzan to the locals) is an invigorating natural setting, criss-crossed by dozens of volcanoes, numerous waterfalls and vast green expanses dotted with alpine flowers in spring. The wild reputation of the island is well established. With six national parks , it is a favorite destination for nature lovers, hikers and winter sports. Daisetsuzan Park has become Japan's largest national park since it was established in 1934. As you walk through it, you can observe site-specific flora and fauna, including the famous Blakiston's owl , one of the largest owls in the world. up to 70 centimeters. This owl, called by the Ainu (aboriginal people of the island) " Kotan korokamui ", is considered the protective god of this large territory. On the flora side, more than 250 varieties of alpine flowers make the meadows vibrate with a multitude of colors in spring.
Due to its vast expanse, the park can be divided into three distinct zones.
The Omote Daisetsuzan area: the roof of Hokkaido
Access to Omote Daisetsuzan, the northernmost area, is via the town of Asahikawa and the two onsen close to it: Sounkyo onsen and Asahidake. Here, the departures of hikes are numerous. This sector, very popular with visitors, contains no less than fifteen volcanic peaks , the highest of which, Mount Asahi culminates at 2,291 meters above sea level. What owes him to be nicknamed the "roof of Hokkaido" . To discover all the splendor of the place, here are some ideas for hikes.
- Trail idea 1: objective of Mount Kuro
From Sounkyo onsen , you can take the cable car and then the ski lifts to nibble on some travel time towards Mt. The ascent can also be done on foot, so count between 1h30 and 2h30 of walking, depending on your training. After a break and another hour of walking, you will have arrived. As the clouds gently envelop you, the nearby ridges and wildflower bed greet you atop Mount Kuro, over 2,000 meters above sea level. If this spectacle finally encourages you to continue your adventure, know that you can reach Mount Asahi, which is located further south. In just under two hours, you will arrive at the Ohachidaira Crater Observatory . Then, destination the cable car which will bring you closer to Mount Asahi. Plan more than one day to do this great tour.
- Trail idea 2: objective of Mount Asahi
If the rooftop of Hokkaido is your interest, save time by starting your hike from Asahidake Onsen . After a warm-up bath, take the cable car from Sanroku Station to the Sugatami stop. After that, three hours of walking in the middle of fumaroles , smells of sulfur , all on a rocky path await you to lead you to the coveted summit, at more than 2,200 meters above sea level.
These hiking trails are very popular in the fall when the vegetation puts on its mantle of fire. Indeed, the Daisetsuzan Park is the first to know the kôyô or red leaves , from mid-September .
- Trail idea 3: the garden of the gods
Still in the Omote Daisetsuzan area, but further south towards Mount Tomuraushi , there is a vast plateau covered with thousands of flowers that stretch as far as the eye can see. The Ainu nicknamed this place " Kamuimintara " meaning the garden of the gods . By its bewitching beauty, there is no doubt that it was, at least for a time, the place of relaxation of the native gods. The expedition to Mount Tomuraushi requires spending a night outdoors. Be careful, refuges here are rarer than in the Japanese Alps . If you have a tent, be aware that camping is allowed in certain areas. A word of advice: check with the many tourist points before your adventure.
Mount Tokachi area: cascading water
Located to the southwest, this area is made up of a volcanic chain whose succession of ridges and deep canyons contrasts with the more nuanced relief of the north. From the adjacent plains, you will have a breathtaking view of these vertiginous mountains.
To the south, the hiking trails start near the town of Furano . Nearby, a series of waterfalls along the Nunobe River offer a cool alternative to the mountainous landscape. From here, you can reach Mount Furano , which has been inactive for a few years and is accessible from the Tokachidake onsen . Arrived at the top, the plain of Genshigahara guarantees you a striking spectacle: a vast wetland opens up in front of you, punctuated with conifers and cotton grass, light and fragile, swept by the wind. If you want to gain height, climb Mount Tokachi which culminates at more than 2,000 meters above sea level. Its summit formed from volcanic lava offers an unobstructed view of the entire chain.
The Higashi Daisetsu area: the ice village
To finish this tour, head further east to the Higashi Daisestu area. Accessible by national road 273 or by train from JR Obihiro or Shintoku station, this part of the park is particularly appreciated for these lakes : Shikaribetsu and Nukabira.
In summer, walks along Lake Shikaribetsu rest the spirit in an idyllic setting. Canoe or cruise ship trips are also possible.
In winter, change of program, the frozen lake becomes the scene of an original event: the ShikaribetsukoKotan festival, which takes place from January to March. The principle ? An ephemeral village of snow and ice right on the lake! Here, no simple igloos that are a bit wonky, no... The buildings are true architectural works of art. From the chapels with sculpted stained -glass windows to the concert hall with ice-cold benches, many activities are offered to make your stay as unique as possible. Without forgetting the bar where your drinks are served in glasses of ice or the rotenburo , an outdoor onsen, which will warm your body and your heart while enjoying a splendid view of the surrounding nature.
Daisetsuzan Park is a real treasure in the heart of Hokkaido , to be discovered over several days if you have time. Each period has its interest. Be aware that the hiking trails are not very difficult but they can be long and tiring. In addition, in winter, it is better to take precautions and check that all the trails are passable. Also beware of the brown bear, which drags its few hundred kilos through the forests, in search of food. The sound of a bell hanging from your bag will keep it at bay.
Address, timetable & access
TimetableAccess to the city of AsahikawaBy busFrom Asahikawa station to Onsen Sounkyo: Dohoku bus, stop n°7, Kamikawa line. Seven departures per day. One-way price: 870 yen (7.40€). About 110min From Asahikawa station to Asahidake Onsen. bus stop n°1, 2, 3 and 4. Four departures per day. One-way fare: 1,430 yen (€12). About 2 hours. The bus can be taken at Asahikawa airport for 1,000 yen (8.50€) one way.By carRent a car from Sapporo, approximately 2 hoursAccess to Lake Shikaribetsu From Obihiro station, take the Takushoku bus to Lake Shikaribetsu Shikaribetsu. 1h45 trip