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Difficulty: 3/5

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Hiking Distance: 4 - 13 km 

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Time: 1-2 Days

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Elevation Gain:  220m - 610m

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Prefecture: Kumamoto

A complete guide to hiking in Hokkaido

Hyakumeizan

9

Highest Elevation

2290m

Best Season

July - August - Sept.

Trails Featured

5

Overview

Hokkaido is an alluring destination for those seeking to escape the human influence that's found on most of mainland Japan (Honshu). It contains the highest amount of natural forests in all of Japan, unspoiled by the cedar plantations that cover much of the mainland. It also contains more wildlife than the rest of Japan, with regular sightings of foxes, deer, squirrels, and sometimes even brown bears. The hiking trails often provide more peace and fewer people than the popular hikes back in the Japanese Alps. And although its most famous attraction is the huge amount of snowfall, the 3 warmest months in Hokkaido offer the most comfortable climate for summer hiking in Japan. If you desire a change of pace from the other incredible mountains near Tokyo and Osaka, Hokkaido is the perfect option, with its own unique landscape and environment.

 

There are many amazing hikes in Hokkaido, a truly complete guide would be far too big for one webpage, so this guide will only focus on the Hyakumeizan. There are 9 Hyakumeizan in Hokkaido and these mountains are the most common reason for hikers to visit during the summer.

 In This Article 

1. General

1.1 - Access

1.2 - Weather & Seasons

1.3 - Cautions & Bears

1.4 - Useful Links

2. Featured Hikes

2.1 - Daisetsuzan

2.2 - Mt. Tokachi and Biei

2.3 - Mt. Meakan

2.4 - Mt. Shari

2.5 - Mt. Rausu

3. Remaining Hyakumeizan

3.1 - Mt. Poroshiri

3.2 - Mt. Tomuraushi

3.3 - Mt. Yotei

3.4 - Mt. Rishiri

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Climbing the river on the trail to Mt. Shari

access

Access

 To Hokkaido 

Flights are the best option from major cities and relatively cheap, often costing less than $10,000 one-way. The airport is located in New Chitose which is 40 min from Sapporo by train. You can compare prices here

 To The Hiking Trails 

Renting a car is the best and sometimes the only option for accessing the hiking trails in Hokkaido. Although it can be expensive, you can offset the cost with car camping if you choose a vehicle with foldable rear seats. This can be requested when you go to pickup your car. You can compare prices and make reservations here, prices can be as low as ¥4000 – ¥6000.

Cycling around Hokkaido is quite popular, like most of Japan there can be a lot of rain during summer so some preparation is needed. 

​Public Transport in Hokkaido is not ideal for most of the hiking trails. But if you don't mind multiple connections and the odd taxi fare then you'll be fine. Hitch-hiking is legal in Japan and safer than other countries, but there are laws against disturbing traffic so be respectful when choosing this option.

Weather  and  Seasons

Summer and autumn, from July to September, are the best times for hiking in Hokkaido. There is likely to be snow hanging around until July. The autumn leaves will be colourful from late-September. The first snowfall usually occurs in Daisetsuzan in October.

For weather forecasts, mountainforecast.com and the nearest town's forecast are a good combination for a fairly accurate picture. The weather is quite unpredictable though, so the forecast is only a guide, you should always be prepared for rain or storms.

​This need for adequate preparation for storms in Hokkaido is painfully evident by two incidents involving hyperthermia in summer, one involving a hiker in Daisetsuzan (full story here) and the other involving 8 people on Tomuraushi (full story here). 

Cautions & Bears

 Drinking Water 

One of the things you'll notice when travelling Hokkaido is the wildlife, and especially foxes, they're everywhere. For hikers, this means we can't drink any water from rivers and streams. Why? There is a risk of Echinococcosis, a potentially fatal parasitic disease that comes from fox poo, which is carried into the rivers after rainfall. So all water from these sources needs to be boiled or properly treated (adequate filter). 

 Ticks 

Occasionally, you might encounter ticks while hiking in Japan, and due to the wildlife in Hokkaido this can be a bit more common. Although rare, three tick-born diseases have been slowly growing in the last 15 years: Lyme disease, Japanese spotted fever, and the SFTS virus. The later two are quite rare, however, Lyme disease is somewhat common if you happen to be bitten by a tick and don't remove it promptly. Make sure to check yourself regularly, and see a doctor if you're concerned after getting bitten. There is no cure for Lyme disease once it's established, but antibiotics are an effective method of treatment if taken early before the disease takes hold. You can read more about Lyme disease and it's prevention here

 Bears 

There are more bears in Hokkaido than anywhere else in Japan, but luckily, it's unlikely you'll see them while hiking unless you're in the back country or hiking up Mt. Rausu. Hokkaido is also the only place in Japan where you'll find large brown bears, which require more caution than the smaller black bears. They're most active from September when they start preparing for hibernation. The effectiveness of bear bells is questionable (read an analysis here), but the effectiveness of bear spray is well documented. Standard bear safety should be practiced while hiking in Hokkaido, including carrying bear spray. You can read an overview of bear safety tips here.

Useful links

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Featured  Hikes

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Daisetsuzan

大雪山

Elevation: 2290m

View Trail

Crowds

4/5

Distance

12-13 km

Elevation Change

850m  -  1050m

Time

5 - 8 Hours

Difficulty

3/5

Accomodation

Hotels & Campsites

daisets

Trail Summary

The Daisetsuzan Volcanic Group is a mountain range located in the heart of Hokkaido and features 3 of Japan's famous 100 mountains: Tomuraushi, Tokachi, and the tallest peak in Hokkaido, Asahidake. Most commonly when people refer to hiking Daisetsuzan they are referring to the highest peak, Asahidake. There are numerous options for hiking the peak, the 3 most popular options are: an out-and-back hike that takes about 5 hours, a 7 hour loop hike that includes the natural Nakadake onsen, and the 8 hour traverse from Asahidake to Kurodake. All of these hikes start from the Asahidake Ropeway.

Click here for the full description

​ Access: Car or Bus 

Car: If using a car you'll need to park at either the Ropeway (¥500) or the Visitor Center (free).

Bus: To reach the Asahidake Ropeway you will need to catch a bus, but first you need to reach Asahikawa station. From Sapporo, the train to Asahikawa will take 1hr 25mins and cost ¥5200, or you can catch a bus which will take 2hrs 10mins and cost ¥2300.

From Asahikawa station, the bus to the ropeway will cost around ¥1500 and take 1hr 40mins. As of 2022 there are 4 departures per day at 7:11, 9:11, 13:11 & 15:11, you can confirm the times on their website here.

Asahidake Ropeway: ¥2000 one-way, ¥3200 return. During summer, the first departure is 6:30am and the final descent is 5:30pm.

Elevation Change

850m - 1050m

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Elevation Profile

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Gallery

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