Day 1: Asahikawa City to Asahidake Youth Campsite
We arrived in Asahikawa very worn out from three weeks of cycling around Hokkaido, so we took the first day very slowly and ambled to the base of the mountain. Note that it is a distinct possibility to reach the first campsite in Daisetsuzan, or even second, if you wish.
On Day One we took our time catching the bus from Asahikawa City Bus Station (just outside the train station) to Mt. Asahidake. We went from Bus Stop 10, which has a schedule attached to it. Once we arrived we spoke to rangers, tried out the onsen (as it is a famous onsen village) and purchased last-minute supplies for a pricey fee. We camped in the Juvenile Campsite for 500¥ per person. There is also a reputable YHA Youth Hostel available and some onsen hotels in the same area but we fancied keeping things cheap and cheery.
Jump off the bus at the Ropeway station, turn back on yourself and it’ll pop up on the right. We were recommended a different map, which we purchased, and advised to carry 2 litres of water each, per day, until we reached Hakuun Hut. After that, we should carry 4. However, the conditions in the park are unreliable and change drastically according to the season, so be sure to check in with the rangers before setting out. At least, be sure to sign the book and detail your route.
The campsite was cheap, mostly empty, and had good facilities. This included rubbish disposal which was invaluable as we had arrived with some rubbish and didn’t want to carry it through the whole park. Further down from the rangers hut, on the left, a sign with a large map will appear. Following a short dirt track between that and a large brick building, brought us to the campsite. It was a little hidden so watch out for the sign.
The area is an onsen village so you’ll find a few onsen to choose from. We walked around the corner to Grand Hotel Daisetsu. High ceilings and tall slanted windows dappled the lighting so that the black flagstones and cracked old wood were just visible through the steam rising off the pools. Outside, the foliage was on the edge of turning crimson, signalling the start of the earliest arriving autumn in all of Japan. By far, this onsen experience was the most relaxing I’ve had in Japan yet.
Leave yourself plenty of time for translating the recommended map into English, as it is only available in Japanese. Don’t speak Japanese? Use the Google Translate app to translate it in advance. Do every single detail along your route, and back up routes should you need to exit the park in a hurry, obviously paying special attention to the mountain names, red information, and other markers.
Bus Details: http://wakasaresort.com/eng/access_e.htm (Asahikawa Ekimae means Asahkiawa Station)
Map: ISBN978-4-398-76263-4 (Not available in English)
YHA Hostel: http://shirakabasou-asahidake.com/