Asahidake Onsen, Hokkaido

Mount Asahidake is the tallest point in Hokkaido. standing at 2290 meters, it is a popular base for exploring the Daisetsuzan National Park. to get there, you can take a bus from Asahikawa Station, and you get off at Asahidake Camping Ground. the journey takes about 90 minutes and costs 1430yen one-way.

i wanted to visit it very much after reading about it online. i couldn’t plan a proper hike as my mum wasn’t very keen on hiking. instead, we did the more touristy and easy route: we took the Asahidake Ropeway up 1600m, and then did the short circular trail around the ropeway station. it took us less than an hour.

was it worth it? yes.

it was absolutely breathtaking. there were a few ponds bordered with melting snow. and the mountain was stunning.

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the ropeway

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a river of snow

there were only 2 downsides to it all.

firstly, there were a lot of mosquitoes. and i mean, a lot. and i was silly enough to wear a t-shirt with my trackpants as i figured it would be rather hot. the cloud of mosquitoes followed us everywhere on our trail and we had quite a time smacking them or waving them out of the way. we noticed a lot of the other travelers had the same problem too. only the locals were well-prepared. they wore long-sleeved shirts, long track pants, hiking boots, hiking hats that covered their necks, etc.

secondly, inspired by the beautiful landscape around us, we really wanted to hike up the summit of Mount Asahidake (my mum got all gung-ho about it), which would take us about 2 hours. what deterred us were the relentless mosquitoes and our unpreparedness – i don’t think we had the hiking gear necessary to make the climb. the trails were rocky and full of loose pebbles. it had rained earlier that morning and in the prior few days, so the paths were quite slippery and full of puddles (we were told that we were extremely lucky to have gotten the view we got because the other travelers staying at our lodge had gone up the day before and all they saw was fog). you can rent boots at the ropeway station to tackle the puddles of water and snow.

so we had to content with just the short circular trail and headed down via the ropeway afterward, our exposed areas covered with mosquito bites.

another highlight of our stay was the lodge that we stayed in. it’s called Daisetsuzan Shirakaba-so. you’ve got the option of dormitories or private rooms. there was an onsen, and a lot of the locals stayed there.

all of the travelers were extremely friendly. my mum and i had fun chatting with many of them, from the young Belgian who was going to hike a 55km trail, to the local aunties who were hiking enthusiasts. the local ladies were so friendly, they even gave us their addresses and contact numbers in case we ever had time to visit in the future, and we took photos.

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Daisetsuzan Shirakaba-so

the onsen was wonderful. small, but good enough for us lot. and it was a good place for bonding and making friends with the other travelers. if you’ve never been in an onsen in Japan, i suggest you try it. it’s a good place for conversations and newfound friendship.

we all had dinner together in the dining hall and dinner was amazing. there was rice, beef, miso soup, salad, meatballs, a quiche, Yubari melon and mango pudding. beer was available too. we spent the entire dinner chatting with everyone.

breakfast was traditional Japanese style with fried salmon, tamago, rice, salad, pickled vegetables and soup.

we left Asahidake Onsen feeling immensely satisfied.

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