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The first place in Japan to be visited by winter: Mt. Asahidake, in the Daisetsuzan Mountain Range

The Daisetsuzan Mountain Range has more than 20 peaks higher than 2,000 m, including Mt. Asahidake (2,291m), Hokkaido’s highest mountain. In autumn, Sorbus matsumurana mountain ashes, avens and other plants gradually change color. The mountain is eventually shrouded in a lovely blanket of yellows and reds. You can see the first snow in Japan at the top of Mt. Asahidake. It’s often visible from mid-September. Sugatami Pond is halfway up Mt. Asahidake. The Daisetsuzan Mt. Asahidake Ropeway sweeps you up to Sugatami Station. From there, you can reach Sugatami Pond, whose surface reflects the breathtaking scenery. A sea of clouds may form in the early morning.

Daisetsuzan Mt. Asahidake Ropeway

HOURS: Oct. 1-23: 8:00-17:00
Oct. 24-Nov. 10: 9:00-16:00

CLOSED:  Nov. 11-Dec. 10 (Ropeway inspection and maintenance.)

796 861 037*01

Address: Asahidake Onsen, Higashikawa Town

URL: Japanese)

URL: English)

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Two beautiful waterfalls at a magnificent cliff

A 24-km-long section of sheer cliffs runs along the Ishikari River in Sounkyo. Streams cascade from the cliff at several locations. Two of these are recognized as among the most beautiful waterfalls in the gorge. The first is Ginga Falls (Milky Way Falls), which spills gracefully from the cliff in a fine white thread. The second is Ryusei Falls (Meteor Falls), which surges from the gorge. These falls are on the list of the top 100 most beautiful waterfalls in Japan. The car park offers spectacular views from up close. Soubakudai ovservatory is about a 20-minute walk from these falls. It has splendid views of two waterfalls running down the cliff on either side of Fudoiwa Rock. Sounkyo Onsen, one of the largest hot spring resorts in Hokkaido, is nearby. It’s the center of tourism in this area, and hot spring hotels are found here in great variety. The views of colorful leaves from the open-air baths is wonderful.

Ryusei Falls and Ginga Falls

623 177 891*31

Address: Sounkyo, Kamikawa Town

Sounkyo Onsen (hot spring)

623 233 085*44

Address: Sounkyo Onsen, Kamikawa Town

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Sweeping views of the Daisetsuzan Mountain Range Daisetsu Kougen Asahigaoka

Kamikawa is known as a great tourist destination. It includes Sounkyo and overlaps with Daisetsuzan National Park. Daisetsu Kougen Asahigaoka is a hilltop that provides awesome views of the Daisetsuzan Mountain Range. It is about 10 km from downtown Kamikawa. The hill is a magnificent scenic spot at pastures that are surrounded by the Niseikaushuppe forest and other the Daisetsuzan Mountain Range. In autumn, you can see the mountain range with white snow on the top.
The garden and restaurant are open until 16 October.

Daisetsu Kougen Asahigaoka

HOURS: Garden from 9:00 to 17:00 (last entry: 16:00)
Restaurant from 11:00 to 14:30, and 18:00 to 20:00

623 459 391*01

Address: 841-8 Kikusui, Kamikawa Town

☆Each facility has different hours, so please check the details at the following site.

URL: http://www.daisetsu- Japanese)

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Japan’s first autumn colors and snowfall

Mt. Kurodake is in the northeastern part of the Daisetsuzan Mountain Range. The elevation is 1,984 m. A ropeway and lift bring you to the 7th station (1,520 m). This is well known as the first place in Japan to be visited by autumn. The leaves start changing colors from the peak down. The colorful autumn season runs from early September to the end of the month. This means winter starts earlier at Mt. Kurodake than anywhere else in Japan. You can enjoy the first snow. The Mt. Kurodake Ski Area is the first place in Japan where you can enjoy skiing on natural snow. The resort is at a high elevation. Enjoy skiing on the finest powder snow with magnificent views of the Daisetsuzan (Mountain Range)

Daisetsuzan Sounkyo Mt.Kurodake Ropeway

ROPEWAY HOURS: Oct. 1-15: 6:00 -17:00
Oct. 16-31: 7:00-16:30
Nov. 1-30: 8:00 to 16:30

LIFT HOURS: Oct. 1-15: 6:30-16:30
Oct. 16: 7:30-16:00

CLOSED:  Oct. 17-Nov. 10
Nov.11-30 : 9:00-15:20 *

623 204 603*63

Address: Sounkyo, Kamikawa Town

*The ski resort opening is announced when there’s enough snow on the runs.

URL: Japanese. You can download brochures in English, simplified Chinese, traditional Chinese and Korean.)

■Additional information

The ski area is open from early November if the runs have enough snow. Ski and snowshoe rentals are available during ski resort hours. Japanese)

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Kamuikotan, the breathtaking abode of the gods

One of the best sights in Asahikawa is Kamuikotan. In the language of Hokkaido’s indigenous Ainu people, kamui means “god” and kotan means “village.” It’s been a sacred place for Ainu people. The gorge here formed over the course of eons, and its colors change with the seasons. Japanese maples, gingko trees, rowans and Quercus crispula oaks show their lovely autumn hues from early October. The gorge with strange rocks and bizarre stones run for 10km along the Ishikari River in Kamui Kotan. As this part of the river has rapids, boats sailing here would often capsize. Ainu people attributed this to an evil spirit who lived in the gorge, and they were wary of this place.


655 519 495*53

Address: Kamuikotan, Kamuicho, Asahikawa city

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Autumn farm fields and foliage:Patchwork Road

 The lovely scenery of hilly Biei is well known. Fields of crops and flowers form a multicolored patchwork on the rolling hills of the agricultural area. As the road runs through this patchwork of fields, it’s called “Patchwork Road.” Crops are rotated to avoid diseases that might come from planting the same crops in the same places. It creates different patchwork fields so you always enjoy the varied scenery.  October is the season for sowing winter wheat, and you can enjoy the browns of dirt fields, the greens of young wheat and the colors of autumn leaves. A few farmers still stack bean vines in the fields to dry in the sun after harvesting. It’s a traditional autumn sight.

Patchwork Road

389 184 337*66

Address: Hokuei, Biei Town

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Autumn leaves and volcanic steam at Mt. Tokachidake

This Observatory is between downtown Biei and Fukiage Onsen on Pref. Road 996, which is also called Shirakaba Road. Bogakudai Observatory (elevation 930 m) has views of volcanic steam from Mt. Tokachidake right in front of you and views of many mountains higher than 2000 m in the Tokachidake Mountain Range. Enjoy the scenery and the volcanic activity from the path. The autumn colors peak in early October. Then, Mt. Tokachidake welcomes its first snows. A 5-minute drive from Bogakudai Observatory takes you to Fukiage Onsen, a 100% natural hot spring. Day-trip guests may also enter its hot spring baths.

Bogakudai Observatory

796 093 373

Address: Shirogane, Biei Town

Fukiage Onsen

796 032 434

Address: Fukiage Onsen, Kamifurano Town

URL: Japanese)

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For views across the Tokachidake Mountain Range: Miharashidai Park

The park is on National Highway 237, which runs through downtown Kamifurano. This hilltop park invites you to stop at its “scenic parking” for views of the distinctive Hokkaido landscape (listed in “Viewpoint Parking.”) From here you can enjoy the view of downtown Kamifurano with the Tokachidake Mountain Range in the distance, especially in autumn, when the white snow crowns that range.  Bogakudai Observatory in Biei is recommended for those who’d like to view the Mt. Tokachidake from closer. Mt. Tokachidake is an active volcano. You can see volcanic smoke billowing from Mt. Tokachidake.

Miharashidai Park

349 460 131*84

Address: 3, Hikarimachi, Kamifurano Town

Bogakudai Observatory

796 093 373

Address: Shirogane, Biei Town

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The panorama of “the bellybutton of Hokkaido”

Furano is known as “the bellybutton of Hokkaido.” A statue at the center of the town commemorates the fact that Furano is the geographic center of Hokkaido. The terminal station of Furano Ropeway has a panorama deck that overlooks Furano, the bellybutton of Hokkaido. This high-speed ropeway carries 101 people and gives access from the upper ropeway station to the panorama deck (900m). It offers panoramic views of the Furano basin, and Mt. Tokachidake. The ropeway operates until mid-October. A sea of clouds sometimes covers the entire Furano basin in the early morning.

Furano Ropeway

ROPEWAY HOURS: 7:00 -16:00

Operated until Oct. 16

919 552 687*48

Address: Nakagoryo, Furano City

URL: Japanese)

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Road Information in Hokkaido

Live Cameras of National Highways in eastern Hokkaido