A Comprehensive Guide to Hiking Daisetsuzan National Park’s The Grand Traverse – Part 1

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.

Rangers Hut

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.

Campsite

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.

Asahidake Onsen

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.

Tip

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.

Necessary Information

                                 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/

Campsite: http://www.japanguides.net/city/asahidake-seishonen-yaeijo-camp-area.html

Onsen: http://asahidake.net/access/

16 thoughts on “A Comprehensive Guide to Hiking Daisetsuzan National Park’s The Grand Traverse – Part 1

    1. Hi! Thank you so much, I’m really happy it’s useful for you. Although, I’m also a bit jealous that you’ll be doing this hike, it’s so ridiculously magical and stunning. If you have any questions, feel free to throw them at me. Also, I’ll be posting up Part 3: Food, and Part 4: Daisetsuzan Rules in the coming weeks. Hopefully that will be useful for you too. Enjoy the hike!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. freshcoffeestains

    Awesome post and so helpful! It’s hard finding enough information on the hike… one that I hope to tackle one day. I love Daisetsuzan (the little bit I’ve seen) and Hokkaido in general. Hope you don’t mind but I linked your blog on my own about why everyone should visit Hokkaido 🙂

    Tam @ http://freshcoffeestains.com/hokkaido/

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Tam! I don’t mind at all, thanks very much for the link. And nice blog! Yeah, finding info on The Grand Traverse was incredibly difficult, I hope this helps out a bit. Enjoy the hike, whenver you manage to set out.

      Denica

      Like

  2. Leigh

    Your post is extremely helpful! I’m contemplating doing the traverse in a few weeks … do you think there will be too much of a lack of water by then to do the northern portion of the hike (as you did) or is it worth an attempt? Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Leigh! Thanks so much!

      Well, I did the traverse from north to south, and left one day early, so the route listed covers risky dry southern sections later on. It was after Tamaurashi Camp Grounds, in the south, that we couldn’t find much water in August. We managed to push through for the next two days but it was difficult and we had to ration and take from questionable water sources.

      The northern section should have some by my estimates but the only people who can tell you for sure are the park rangers at Mt. Asahidake base, as the park can vary a lot from year to year. Everything north of hakuun hut should
      be okay, even going down south to Chuubetsu and Tamaurashi if the rangers say it’s okay. Any further south than that will put you in a questionable situation. If you do go further south I would consult the rangers first and make provisions to carry a lot of water at once, up to four liters at all times, and be ready to exit the park should you need to.

      Also bear in mind hiking in the park past September is only recommended for very experienced hikers, because of the typhoon season and because of water shortage. But within the next few weeks should still be okay.

      I hope this helps, if not then ask away. Enjoy your hike!

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      1. Leigh

        This was extremely helpful, thank you!! We will talk with the rangers then to figure out what is possible, did they speak English (or at least some English)?
        Thanks again !

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  3. Leigh

    I have one more question in regards to exiting the traverse — is it possible to exit at any point before Shirogane onsen or would it be easiest/quickest to turn around and head back to where we started (Asahidake onsen)?

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    1. Hi Greg! Thanks very much! I hiked in August 2016 and although I can’t remember the exact dates I do know it was in the latter half of August. It was though to be honest, the lack of water in the southern half of the park was pretty difficult.

      Liked by 1 person

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  5. Arthur

    Hi Denica Shute,

    First thank you for all this previous information ! I was wondering if you have a scan of the map your are illustrating on your article. I don’t find any relevant map with all the hut on the traverse.

    Best regards,

    Arthur

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Arthur,

      I’m afraid I don’t as I gave the map to a friend who was going hiking there.

      The pictures of the map on the article are ones I took using my iPhone and are only of small sections. It’s very important you get the whole map, just incase you need to exit in a hurry. However, Montbelle releases updated maps each year, so it would be worth dropping by Montbelle for an updated copy when you land in Japan.

      Happy hiking!

      Denica

      Like

    1. Hi! So you could do this cycling course but you’d have to do a shortened Daisetsuzan route. Definitely not the whole thing as it takes a full 7 days unless you’re a very experienced hiker and very, very in shape. Some people enjoy doing the Northern end of the park only, which is a 2 day hike, but I’m afraid I don’t have any information on it as I didn’t do that course.

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