Mt. Asahi (旭岳)

Mt. Asahi is an active volcano and unofficial symbol of Daisetsuzan National Park. The stunning scenery and easy access make it popular with tourists throughout the year.

The hike: From the parking lot look for the trailhead on the right side of the road, easily recognizable with its huge yellow “Beware of Bears” sign. Most people use the gondola, which will probably make you the only one on the trail. Despite its lack of use, the trail is pretty well marked, with lots of wooden planks to keep hikers from trampling the vegetation. Be on the lookout for bears, and sing your favorite childhood songs if you’ve forgotten your bear bell. The path follows a stream most of the way before cutting toward the left for a somewhat strenuous climb to the top of the gondola. It should take about 90 minutes to reach the gondola trail junction, where you’ll meet the huge crowds of people who took the lazy way up. Turn right once you hit the junction, and you’ll find a stone emergency hut in about 20 minutes. This is here in case the volcano decides to burp while you’re climbing, and from the looks of the steam vents, the hut’s probably been used before. Continue climbing on the spine of the volcano. The maps say to allow 2-1/2 hours to reach the peak, but you can do it in half that time, as it’s only a 600m vertical ascent. The views from the summit on a clear day are fantastic, and you’ll see most of Daisetsuzan National Park rising up all around you. You can either head back down the way you came , or continue for an interesting loop hike. Descend down the other side of the mountain until you reach a small campsite. The descent is really steep, with a huge snow bank remaining most of the year. Continue up and over Mamiya-dake (間宮岳), turning left at the next junction to reach Naka-dake hot spring (中岳温泉), one of Japan’s hidden hot springs. It’s actually quite difficult to find hidden among all the boulders. Continue climbing past the hot spring to Susoai-daira (裾合平), where you’ll find a trail junction. Turn left to head back to the gondola, via the beautiful Fuufu lake (夫婦池). The entire loop should take between 6 and 8 hours, so plan accordingly.

When to go: The gondola runs all year round, so this hike can be done in the winter with an ice axe and crampons. If you don’t want to fork over the money for the gondola, then you should aim to go between Golden Week and mid September, when most of the snow is gone. The Youth Hostel near the trailhead is easily the best hostel in all of Japan, with a 24-hour outdoor bath and Canadian style log cabin. Click here for the website.

Access: From Sapporo station (札幌駅), take a JR Limited Express train bound for Asahikawa (旭川) and get off there. From the station, take a bus bound for Asahi-dake Onsen (旭岳温泉) and get off at the last stop. The bus runs throughout the year, but frequency varies based on the season. Click here to access the schedule.

Live web cam: Click here

Level of difficulty: 3 out of 5 (elevation change 1110m).

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11 Comments on “Mt. Asahi (旭岳)”

  1. Julian Says:

    Re. Hiragadake (sorry I cannot put this comment in a more appropriate place), Craig McLachlan states in his book that the forest road going up to the northwest side of the peak, leaving just 2.5 hours climb to the top, has only a rope across it, and they were able to drive up most of the way. However, from his description, it sounds like the path is little used (indeed banned). Still, it’s certainly the shorter approach if you don’t mind bush-whacking.

    Have you been up Poroshiri? There appear to be two routes, Nukabira, and Gakudaira (15 river crossings), both on the west side and I’m wondering whether Nukabira has fewer river crossings (as I’ll have to carry the dog across….)

  2. wesu Says:

    thanks for the Hiragadake info. I picked up a hiking map from Hinoemata village when I climbed Aizu-komagatake which had the forest road marked as a hiking option, so maybe things have become more accessible since Craig climbed the peak 11 years ago!

    I haven’t climbed Poroshiri yet, but plan to in August. If you want a dry route, then you should approach from the northeast, at a place called Fushimidake-tozanguchi (伏美岳登山口). You’ve got a long, long way to the summit, but at least it’s dry and the path looks pretty well maintained.
    Check out this link for some great pictures in the fall.

    http://kometyan2.cool.ne.jp/fushimi0510/fushimi1.html

  3. hanameizan Says:

    I hadn’t considered that Fushimi route, thank you. But at 14:40 vs. 8 hours, I’ll only use it if unavoidable due to heavy rain making the other 2 routes too risky. When do you plan to be there? I should be at Porishiri on Monday August 4.

  4. wesu Says:

    I’m not heading to Hokkaido until August 6th, so looks like we’ll miss each other. How long are you going to stay on the island? I’ll be there about 10 days, long enough to climb 5 mountains.

  5. Jaime Says:

    Hi there,
    I am planning a hike in Daisetsuzan NP. My idea is to start in Asahidake onsen, climb to Asahidake and then 2 options: go to Kuro-dake and back to Asahidake or do the loop (Mamiya-Naka-Susoai) you talk about…I have seen that the time necessary for each option is rather similar, but need to know which can be nicer/more interesting…
    Any idea?
    Thanks a lot

    • wesu Says:

      Jaime,

      A lot of your experience can depend on the weather. If there’s cloud/rain, then both trails will pretty much look the same. You could hike out to Kuro-dake, stay there, and on the way back to Mt. Asahi take the Naka-dake onsen loop. I’m not sure if you’re trying to do it as a day hike or overnight. It’s quite a long ways from Asahi-dake to Kuro-dake, but the volcanic scenery is amazing, with areas of poisonous volcanic gases and beautiful rock formations. Let me know if you have any other questions.

      Wes

      • Madeline Says:

        Hi!

        My friend suggested hiking Asahidake for Golden week (early May). But it looks like there’s still tonnes of snow there at the moment (April 6). Is this even possible?


      • Hi walked from Kurodake to Asahidake and back in one day. It is possible. But I won’t recommend it. You are in a hurry all the time and cannot enjoy the scenery. But it is possible.

        But it is definitely possible to start in Asahidake and walk all the way to Kurodake (approx. 11km). At Kurodake you can go down and take a ropeway to Sounkyo Onsen. (That is the town I stayes and started for my day-trip). There is also some kind of camping ground just before you arrive Kurodake.

        If you try it in one day, make yourself some kind of time table with an deadlines. If have had something like that: “Don’t go back to Kurodake if you arrive Asahidake after 2pm.” and “Take the path back over Hokkaidake if you arive back at Mimiyadake after 3pm”. I gave myself this rules to ensure to get the last ropway out of the mountains. If was hiking without camping equipment.

  6. wes Says:

    Madeline,

    Yes, there will still be tonnes of snow during Golden Week. Hokkaido doesn’t really experience spring until late May or early June.

    That being said, people do climb Mt. Asahi year round by using the ropeway. You can bet the gondola will be running during Golden Week. You’d definitely need a pair of crampons though.

  7. eekessler Says:

    Do you know if there are buses from Sounkyo Onsen back to Asahidake Onsen? We are traveling by car and we want to start at Asahidake, do the traverse to Kurodake, go down to Sounkyo Onsen from there and then take some form of transportation back to Asahidake Onsen where we’re planning to leave the car and belongings and possibly camp out there for the night.

    • wes Says:

      eekessler,

      After a quick search there doesn’t appear to be a direct but. It looks like you’d have to take a bus all the way back to Asahikawa station, and change to a bus bound for Asahidake Onsen. It’s a bit of a pain I know, but I’m not sure what else to tell you. Hitching would be quite difficult as there’s no direct route between the two places.


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