A variety of additional points of interest are found on the borders of the city. Located within Sapporo city limits and in Shikotsu-Toya National Park, Jozankei Hot Springs (Jozankei Onsen) is a collection of spas within an hour of downtown. The waters' minerals are said to relieve aches and pains as the sight of the surrounding mountains eases the mind. Some hot springs in Jozankei are open to day visitors. The arched Hoheikyo Dam far up on the Toyohira River and surrounded by virgin forests, and Jozankei Dam, a multipurpose gravity dam on the Otarunai River, are also in Jozankei.
Hitsujigaoka Observation Hill is known for its statue of Dr. Clark, who extends his hand toward Sapporo. A small chapel popular for weddings adjoins the site. Nopporo Forest Park was established to commemorate Hokkaido's centennial. On its vast 2,050 hectares are the Centennial Memorial Tower, built in honor of the hundredth anniversary of Hokkaido's official colonization, the Historical Museum of Hokkaido, and the Historical Village of Hokkaido, with recreated buildings from Hokkaido's frontier days. The Sapporo Science Center exhibits the latest technology and allows visitors to enjoy themselves while learning about science, including by viewing the starry skies in the attached planetarium. An 'urban-style aquarium,' Sunpiazza Aquarium is located in an urban district and its inhabitants include sea otters and penguins.
"Above the clouds"
I had an amazing time in Daisetsuzan National Park, hence the title. I stayed in Sounkyo Onsen. After biking Sounkyo Gorge and climbing Mt. Kurodake, I can understand the posters that say “Open a Sounkyo to the humans?E Sounkyo onsen is called the tourist hub of Daisetsuzan but it is quite small! The area is unspoilt and sometimes a little overwhelming.I highly recommend spending about 2 days here. I hope you'll enjoy my photos (taken with my really cheap digital camera) as much as I enjoyed taking them. Dozo...
On my first day, I took a long bikeride around Sounkyo gorge. It is a bit expensive to rent a bike but the ride is absolutely spendid! There are waterfalls and imposing rock formations along the cycling path. You can also ride in the tunnel out to Lake Daisetsu. There’s a 200\ discount for those staying at the youth hostel.
I climbed my first mountain in Sounkyo! From Sounkyo onsen I took the ropeway (1650\ roundtrip) then the summer lift (600\ roundtrip) before I made the hour climb to the top. When I started at 6am, it was a little cloudy, as the lift climbed aboved the clouds ?EI was greeted by an incredibly blue sky. It is truly the most beautiful thing I have ever seen (that first photo)! This photo is from about midway up.
I streched a bit then began my climb. At first I was huffing and puffing but I took a short rest. I was greeted by a bunch of chipmunks! I made it to the top of Kurodake then climbed an hour further to the base camp. I was exhausted but it was such a wonderful experience!! Here's the view from the top.
About 15 minutes from the top! Can you see the yellow mountainflowers?!
I stayed at the Sounkyo Youth Hostel. The hostel is run by Mr. Oizumi and his wife. They are very friendly and sooooo helpful. The hostel is clean and the bath is quite nice. I visited the nearby Taisetsu Hotel bath and it was gross! Also, when I had five minutes to spear before the bus to Asahikawa left, Mr. Oizumi was kind enough to give me a ride to the station.
There is a bus from Asahikawa station to Sounkyo that takes almost 2 hours and costs 1900\. This bus does not run that regularly, so make sure to get a schedule before you head to Asaikawa.
My last day in Sounkyo, I watched the Sounkyo Ainu Fire Festival. It is usually on the last Saturday in July. This is great festival!! It includes fisherman group dances, taiko drums, Ainu dancing, and fireworks. The Ainu dances are especially interesting. In fact, I enjoyed the festival more than my visit to the Ainu village in Shiraoi. The Ainu in Sounkyo seem much more proud of their traditions and heritage. 0165-82-1811
I have to get these photos scanned so that will take a while!