Asahidake Onsen (®x·ò) is a small hot spring resort at the foot of Hokkaido's highest mountain, Mount Asahidake (2290 meters), and one of the most pleasant bases for exploring Daisetsuzan National Park.
The small village consists of only about a dozen buildings, wooden lodges, a beautiful youth hostel and two or three large hotels. Shopping and dining opportunities are limited to the hotels and the ropeway station. For weather forecasts, maps, explanations about the national park and other tourist information, head to the Asahidake Visitor Center near the ropeway station.
The Asahidake Ropeway lifts visitors from Asahidake Onsen to within a two hour hike of Mount Asahidake's summit. Even though the ropeway's upper station is "only" 1600 meters above sea level, it stands in a treeless alpine tundra landscape with alpine flowers in summer.
There are many hiking opportunities in the Asahidake area from late June through September. For beginners, there is an attractive, 30-60 minute circular trail around the ropeway's upper station, which passes some ponds and sulfurous vents, indicating that the whole Daisetsuzan mountain range is of volcanic origin. Furthermore, there are several easy walking trails around the village.
Somewhat more difficult is the ascent to the summit of Asahidake which takes about two hours. The classic 1-2 day tour for advanced hikers continues from the summit of Asahidake to the summit of Kurodake, from where one can descend to Sounkyo Onsen. Other multi-day trekking tours through the national park can also be started from Asahidake Onsen.
Asahidake is the first place in Japan to see autumn colors and snow each year. The autumn color season attracts a lot of visitors in mid September, while skiing is possible on the mountain from December into early May.
Asahidake Onsen can be reached by bus from Asahikawa Station (1430 yen one way) and Asahikawa Airport (1000 yen one way):
1800 yen round trip (mid October through May)