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

Day 7: Biei-Fuji Hut to Shirogane Onsen

The full Traverse would continue to Tokachidake Onsen. Seeing as there was a storm rolling in at midday, and the quality of our water was sketchy, we left the The Grand Traverse at the earlier exit, which is Shirogane Onsen.

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Starting out was fresh and easy, and although most of our clothes were not dry, the prospect of the onsen gave us a goal. The thin portacabin walls lost all of the heat from cooking pretty quickly, and so we had slept poorly in the cold.

But the morning was sunny, and we had 6 hours until the rain was due to start up again. The descent was at an easy angle but very muddy in places, and it grew increasingly hot as we descended from the alpine cool of the mountain. The path dipped into forested land, and after a 4 hour trek which took us 30 minutes longer to complete, we ended up at the gate to the park. From here we walked along country roads for 40 minutes to reach Shirogane Onsen.

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Shirogane Onsen was touted to us by most locals we came across when cycling around Hokkaido so we were excited to give it a try. Surprisingly, it wasn’t that large but did have 2 indoor pools, a plunge pool, an outdoor pool, and a sauna room. Unlike most onsen there were stone dividers between the sit down shower spaces so you had a degree of privacy. There was also more than your average amount of free stuff: shampoo, conditioner, body soap, exfoliator, face peel, mud masks, and foot scrubber. I must’ve cleaned myself three times over before I soaked. That’s how much I missed being clean.

The downside of this is that we now realised just how much our clothes, pack and boots stank of putrid swamp water. No one sat next to us on the bus. There are only 3 buses running to Asahikawa City from Shirogane each day, but there seems to be no available timetable online, so be sure to check the timings at the bus stop before heading into the onsen. 

Shirogane Onsen: http://www.shiroganeonsen.com/

If you’ve stuck with this gargantuan summary of The Grand Traverse then you’re probably thinking about hiking the Traverse. Continue onto Part 2: The Gear, a much pithier post, for a seven day hiking kit list created especially for Daisetsuzan National Park.

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

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  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

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    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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