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Hokkaido Hike

Duration

10 Days, 9 Nights

Physical Level

Start / Finish

Lake Akan / Shikotsu-ko Onsen

Technical Level

A hike through beautiful and expansive mountainous terrain.

Guided hiking for strong walkers in Hokkaido’s spectacular National Parks. Vast mountainous scenery; volcanoes, gorges and lakes. Rugged landscapes decorated with delicate alpine flowers; top-class local cuisine and onsen hot spring baths.

July, August & September.

The Hokkaido Hike is a fully guided tour for those who exercise fairly regularly and can walk comfortably for up to eight hours. The route is largely mountain trails and includes some long ascents and descents over rough ground. Please read more on Tour Levels here.

 

A 10 day, 9 night tour starting in Akan-ko and finishing in Shikotsu-ko Onsen. Accommodation ranges from comfortable, mountainside lodges to 3/4 star hotels most with their own onsen (hot spring) or nearby facilities. Laundry facilities are available in most of the accommodation on this tour. Please note that traditional Japanese inns are uncommon in Hokkaido. The maximum group size for this tour is 12 persons. We have no minimum size. If we accept a booking we guarantee to run the tour.

 

The Hokkaido Hike explores the wild side of Japan on the sparsely populated, northerly island of the Japanese archipelago. In winter, Siberian temperatures and powder snow has made Hokkaido a skier's paradise. In summer, with the snow gone, the weather is very comfortable and the hiking is some of the best in Japan.

 

The Hokkaido Hike takes us through Japan's largest wilderness. We pass through remote verdant forests, across wet lands, up spectacular volcanoes, past steaming vents and onto high plateaux. Panoramic views, which stretch for tens of kilometres across this beautiful land, are a reward when reaching the high peaks. Closer to us is the flora and fauna special to Hokkaido. We will see alpine flowers peculiar not just to Hokkaido but some so rare that they are found only on one mountain. In all there are about 500 different alpine flowers blooming through the summer season. These include Minezuou (Loiseleuria procumbens), Meakan-kinbai (Potentilla miyabei), Kibana-shakunage (Rhododendron aureum), Ezo-kozakura (Primula cunefolia), Jimukade (Harrimanella stelleriana), Ezo-no-shigazakura (Phyllodoce aleutica), Tchinguruma (Sieversia pentapetala), Ezo-in-tsutsuji (Ledum palustre ssp.diversipilosum), Ukon-utsugi (Weigela middendorffiana), Iwabukuro (Pennelianthus frutescens), and Kokemomo (Vaccinium vitisidaea).

 

Wildlife is in an abundance that many other countries today would find hard to compare to. Foxes, deer, eagles and many different aquatic birds are some of the animals we are likely to see. In essence, Walk Japan takes you to a natural wonderland that belies the usual image of Japan as a modern, industrial nation.

 

The Hokkaido Hike provides a unique experience of Japan, with an additional emphasis on nature. Hokkaido was only settled by the Japanese in the 19th Century and there is little of the history commonly associated with Japan. Not that this matters as Hokkaido more than makes up for its lack of cultural monuments with the grand scale and beauty of its scenery and quality of its food.

 

The tour begins at Lake Akan before journeying to central Hokkaido and the Daisetsuzan National Park, the largest and perhaps most beautiful in Japan. We spend the next five days exploring the Park and hike some of Hokkaido's highest mountains, including Mt. Asahidake and Mt. Tokachidake. Our final few days are spent in the Lake Shikotsu area for hikes to the nearby volcanoes and finally soothing baths in natural hot spring overlooking the lake.

 

In short, the trip reaches the natural highlights of Hokkaido while keeping transfers to a minimum. The distances walked and heights ascended are challenging, but do not require the stamina of a high alpine trekker. Maximum height is 2,290 metres. We have chosen hikes that generally include some 'horizontal' sections or rolling countryside. This is a good trip for those who walk regularly and enjoy spectacular sights. The hikes are detailed in the itinerary.

 

Price: JPY496,000 (JPY = Japanese Yen) per person. Single accommodation is available on a limited basis at JPY54,000. Please contact us for further details. Please use the currency converter on the right-hand side of this page to find the current rate in your local currency. See Booking Conditions.

 

What is included and not included? A fully guided tour including Walk Japan Tour Leader; local travel from tour meeting point to finishing point; accommodation for 9 nights; 9 breakfasts and 9 evening meals, baggage transfers and entrance fees. Not included are flights, all lunches and drinks.

 

Group size: The small, intimate nature of the inns makes the maximum group size 12 people. We have no minimum size. If we accept a booking we guarantee to run the tour.

 

Please see the Itinerary for the tour and Tour Dates for dates and availability by clicking on the buttons found further up this page.

Please contact Walk Japan for more information and to book this tour.

Please visit the Custom Tours page to find out about arranging Walk Japan tours tailored to your specific requirements.

This itinerary for the Hokkaido Hike tour is ground only beginning at Akan-ko (Lake Akan) and ending at Shikotsu-ko Onsen. After receiving the booking form and deposit we will provide detailed instructions for getting to the meeting point in Akan-ko.

 

Flights by JAL, ANA and AirDo to Kushiro from Haneda Airport, Tokyo's domestic airport, and Itami, Osaka's domestic airport. JAL also flies from Nagoya's Chubu Airport, which handles both domestic and international flights. Connecting express buses to Haneda and Itami run at regular intervals from Narita Airport and Kansai Airport, respectively Tokyo's and Osaka's international airports. Both journeys are approximately 60 minutes each.

 

Please note that the first bus to depart for Shin-Chitose Airport (Sapporo's main airport) leaves Shikotsu-ko Onsen at 09:45 arriving at 10:36. If you have an early morning flight a taxi to the airport will be necessary.

 

Day 1 Lake Akan



The tour starts at beautiful Lake Akan, a Ramsar Convention site. Our accommodation, which is close by the Lake, includes an onsen hot spring bath. Everyone meets at 6:00pm in the tour hotel lobby for a briefing and equipment check before enjoying the first of many sumptuous meals during the tour. Afterwards, a foray into Akan town for the rest of the evening.

 

Accommodation: Onsen hot spring resort.
Meals: Dinner provided.
Total hiking: N/A.
Elevation gain: N/A.

 

Day 2 Lake Akan - Sounkyo Onsen


We start early and begin our ascent of Mt. Me-Akan (1,499m), an active volcano. At the top we take in the views of Lake Akan and Daisetsu-zan, the mountain range at the heart of Hokkaido and our destination for the evening. We descend Me-Akan by a different route to return to Lake Akan. An express bus then takes us to Sounkyo Onsen, our gateway to the Daisetsuzan National park, and our base for two nights. Sounkyo is an impressive gorge a hundred metres deep that stretches for 24 kilometres. Many onsen thermal hot springs provide a plentiful supply of hot water to relax in including at our accommodation here for the night.

 

Accommodation: Comfortable lodge with onsen.
Meals: Breakfast & dinner provided.
Total hiking: Approximately 7.5km (4.7 miles) / 6 hours.
Elevation gain: 784m (2,572ft).

 
Mt. Me-Akan (1,499m) Ainu name: Ponmachi-neshiri

Mt. Me-Akan towers over Lake Akan affording views to its nearby 'twin', Mt. O-Akan and beyond to Daisetsuzan, the high mountain area at the centre of Hokkaido. Me-Akan is the first of several active volcanoes we climb on this tour.

 

Day 3 Sounkyo Onsen - Kogen Onsen - Sounkyo Onsen


A taxi ride takes us to the beginning of today's hike, the first of several we will enjoy in the spectacular Daisetsuzan National Park. We begin at Kogen Onsen, the trailhead of a popular, circular hiking trail through an alpine wetland on 1,200m high plateau. Even in July snow remains in Daisetsuzan and we first encounter it here as we weave our way past the highland's myriad ponds. This area is also populated by brown bears and we attend a safety lecture provided by Park Rangers before setting off. On our return from our five hour hike we relax in the onsen baths at the trail head.

 

Accommodation: Comfortable lodge with onsen thermal hot spring baths.
Meals: Breakfast & dinner provided.
Total hiking: Approximately 6.5km (4.0 miles) / 4-5 hours.
Elevation gain: 309m (1,014ft).

 

Daisetsuzan National Park & Mt. Kuro-dake (1,984m)

Daisetsuzan is Japan's largest national park, covering 230,000 hectares and containing 15 mountains reaching 2,000 or more metres in altitude. It is a rugged, beautiful area that the Ainu call Kamui-mintara, or 'Playground of the gods'. Here the northerly latitude creates an alpine environment found only at an elevation of 3,000 metres in the rest of Japan. Snow is found near the mountain summits even at the height of summer, a season when many alpine plants bloom. The steep sided Mt. Kurodake is our first climb in Daisetsuzan and, at its summit, provides grandstand views of Ohachi-daira, the caldera at the centre of the Daisetsuzan National Park and beyond to Mt. Asahidake.

 

Day 4 Sounkyo Onsen - Asahidake


Early morning start. A cable car and chair lift takes us up from Sounkyo to the beginning of our walk for the day. A steep, one hour climb brings us back to the crest of Mt. Kuro-dake (1,984m). Here the landscape suddenly changes from the deep gorge of Sounkyo to an almost Shangri-la like land of Ohachi-daira, an enormous caldera ringed by a series of mountains. Our route takes us around one side of the caldera, still spuming smoke and steam, to Mt. Asahi-dake, Hokkaido's tallest peak. En route, we pass through alpine flower meadows. On the far side of Asahi-dake another cable car saves our energy and legs and brings us down to Asahidake Onsen and our onsen accommodation for the night.

 

Accommodation: Comfortable lodge with onsen thermal hot spring baths.
Meals: Breakfast & dinner provided.
Total hiking: Approximately 12km (7.5 miles) / 8-9 hours.
Elevation gain: 1,220m (4,002ft).

 

Mt. Asahi-dake (2,290m) Ainu name: Nutakukamu-ushuppe

We climb the park's tallest peak, Asahi-dake, which is also Hokkaido's highest peak and an active volcano. Steam continuously venting from the side of the mountain provides a spectacular sight as we descend from the peak. On the lower slopes is verdant forest that turn into rugged, lava rock slopes that are carpeted by alpine flowers in full bloom from mid-June through the summer. A hot spring welling up between rocks in a valley provides a welcome spot to refresh oneself.

 

Day 5 Asahidake Onsen - Shirogane Onsen


Today we ride the cable car again to the high plateau at the foot of Asahi-dake. Our hike, to Aizankei Onsen, is a less demanding trek that takes us through fields of alpine flowers, over residual snowfields and past marshy ground. Many of the alpine flowers are in their full glory and are all the more striking with Asahi-dake, smoking fumeroles and the snow providing a fabulous backdrop. From Aizankei Onsen we make our way to our hotel in Shirogane Onsen by vehicle, arriving in time for dinner at a restaurant in town. Shirogane Onsen is at 1,000 metres making it an ideal base to hike from. We stay here two nights.

 

Accommodation: Hotel.
Meals: Breakfast & dinner provided.
Total hiking: Approximately 9.6km (6 miles) / 6-7 hours.
Elevation gain: 197m (646ft).

 

Day 6 Shirogane Onsen - Tokachidake Onsen - Shirogane Onsen


An early morning transfer to the start of today's climb of Mt. Tokachi-dake (2,077m), another volcano and one of the most active in Japan. It most recently burst into life in 1988 and climbing was prevented until 1990. At the top, on a clear day, we will be afforded views right across the Daisetsuzan National Park to Mt. Asahi-dake. We descend to our accommodation at Shirogane Onsen for a second night.

 

Accommodation: Comfortable lodge with onsen thermal hot spring baths.
Meals: Breakfast & dinner provided.
Total hiking: Approximately 11km (6.8 miles) / 6-7 hours.
Elevation gain: 1,147m (3,763ft).

 

Day 7 Tokachidake Onsen - Mt. Furano-dake - Furano


Today we continue our exploration of the south-western part of Daisetsuzan National Park, including a climb of Mt. Furano-dake (1,893 metres) before returning again to our accommodation in Furno.

 

Accommodation: Comfortable lodge with onsen thermal hot spring baths.
Meals: Breakfast & dinner provided.
Total hiking: Approximately 9.8km (6.1 miles) / 6-7 hours.
Elevation gain: 682m (2,238ft).

 

Day 8 Furano - Shikotsu-ko Onsen


Today is a recovery day and we have time to relax until mid-morning when we begin our transfer to Lake Shikotsu-ko, the deepest and one of the most beautiful lakes in Japan. We spend two nights here.

 

Accommodation: Onsen thermal hot spring resort.
Meals: Breakfast & dinner provided.
Total hiking: N/A.
Elevation gain: N/A.

 

Day 9 Shikotsu-ko Onsen - Mt. Tarumae-zan


Early morning taxi transfer (30 minutes) to start of the climb of Mts. Fuppushi-dake & Tarumae-zan. Minibus pick-up for return to our accommodation in Shikotsu-ko Onsen and where we stay the night. Hike 4 hours for Tarumae-zan; 6 hours for Tarumae-zan and Fuppushi-dake.

 

Accommodation: Onsen thermal hot spring resort.
Meals: Breakfast & dinner provided.
Total hiking:approximately 8km (5 miles) / 4-5 hours.
Elevation gain: 568m (1,863ft).

 

Mt. Tarumae-zan (1,041m, climb to 1,023m) and Mt. Fuppushi-dake (1,102.5m). Ainu names: respectively, Taoro Mai and Fuppu Ushi.

Tarumae-zan is on the south side of Lake Shikotsu-ko, a 360m deep, sparklingly clear water lake formed in a caldera created over 30,000 years after a gigantic volcanic explosion. Its beauty is enhanced by being ringed by three active volcanos, including Tarumae-zan. This mountain was most recently active in 1981. Another explosion in 1909 created the Tarumae-zan's lava rock dome, an impressive and imposing sight, that distinguishes the mountain. A relatively easy walk and climb over volcanic rock. The lower slopes are particularly abundant in alpine plants and flowers.

 

Adjacent to Tarumae-zan is Fuppushi-dake. Unlike the former, Fuppushi-dake is dormant and has not been active since ancient times and its slopes are covered in forest. Given enough time and energy we can walk over both peaks of Fuppushi-dake and Tarumae-zan. Spectacular views are provided from both mountains over Lake Shikotsu to Mt. Yotei-zan, and the low lands across to Sapporo, Chitose Airport and the North Pacific Ocean. There are a number of routes between and around the two mountains and our route will reflect the interest of the group, the weather, time available, etc.

 

Day 10 Shikotsu-ko Onsen


The tour finishes after breakfast in Shikotsu-ko Onsen. Travel to Shin-Chitose Airport, Hokkaido's main airport, is by direct express coach from Shikotsu-ko Onsen. Onward travel from here to elsewhere in Japan by air or, in Hokkaido, by rail. Please note that the first bus to depart for the airport leaves Shikotsu-ko Onsen at 09:45 arriving at 10:36. If you have an early morning flight a taxi to the airport will be necessary.

 

Accommodation: N/A.
Meals: Breakfast provided.
Total hiking: N/A.
Elevation gain: N/A.

 

This itinerary is subject to change.

 

Please see Tour Dates for scheduled tours and their availability.

Please contact Walk Japan for more information and to book this tour.

Please visit the Custom Tours page to find out about arranging Walk Japan tours tailored to your specific requirements

Map image
The itinerary for the Hokkaido Hike tour is ground only beginning in Akan-ko and ending at Shikotsu-ko Onsen.
The nearest airport to the meeting point of Akan-ko is Hokkaido’s Kushiro Airport, with domestic flights departing frequently from Tokyo’s Haneda International Airport.
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FROM KUSHIRO AIRPORT (KUH)
From Hokkaido’s Kushiro Airport shuttle buses depart to Akan-ko. The journey costs about JPY2,090 per person and takes approximately 1 hour 20 minutes.
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Tour participants are advised not to book themselves out on an early morning flight from Sapporo’s Chitose Airport at the end of the tour, as the earliest bus from Lake Shikotsu-ko does not arrive until approximately 10.40 am.
After receiving the booking and deposit we will provide detailed instructions for travelling to the meeting point, complete with a map of the vicinity of the first night’s accommodation.
Please note that Walk Japan is unable to reserve train tickets, with these being easily purchased on the day or in advance after arrival in Japan.

Please contact us if you require further advice.

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