The Summit of Hokkaido
Mt. Asahidake is Hokkaido's highest mountain. An active volcano with many fumaroles (sulfuric vents), Asahidake is popular among hikers in summer and among skiers in winter. At the foot of this peak is Asahidake Onsen, a hot-spring resort town. From here, getting to the mountain is extremely convenient — just take the ropeway to begin exploring! Asahidake Onsen is the gateway to several scenic trails for hikers of all skill levels. These lead to the Daisetsuzan mountains, and on some of them, you'll pass by tranquil, clear ponds surrounded by bountiful nature. Take in the beauty of the alpine tundra landscape as you hike through these woods! Also near Mt. Asahidake is a hidden gem: Tenninkyo, a valley with hiking trails that lead to gorgeous waterfalls like Hagoromo Falls, which have the highest drop in Hokkaido.
A Hot-Spring Resort Nestled in a Scenic Gorge
Perfectly situated in a quaint, picturesque valley, the hot-spring town of Sounkyo Onsen is an ideal starting point for your outdoor adventure. In this valley are two of Japan's top 100 waterfalls: Ryusei Falls and Ginga Falls. As Sounkyo Onsen conveniently has a ropeway, many hiking trails leading to nearby Mt. Kurodake begin here. Atop this magnificent mountain, you can enjoy breathtaking views of Daisetsuzan's other mountains. In winter, the powder snow that blankets Kurodake makes it popular for skiing. Ski season here ends in early May. After a long day of hiking or skiing, head back to Sounkyo Onsen, and relieve your aches and pains with a relaxing dip in the area's hot springs!
Catch Japan's Earliest Autumn Leaves Here
Most of Japan starts to see autumn colors in October or November, but if you want to get a head start, head to Daisetsuzan! Here, leaves start turning vibrant red, orange, or yellow in September — the earliest autumn foliage in Japan. During this time, Daisetsuzan's trails are usually packed with hikers eager to see the leaves at their peak. In particular, a shrub called 'nanakamado' (Japanese rowan) — commonly found in northern Japan's mountains — is a familiar sight. Some of Daisetsuzan's best and most popular spots for viewing autumn leaves are the Ginsendai trailhead that leads to Mt. Akadake, the circular hiking trail around Daisetsu Kogen Onsen's marshlands, the Kurodake trail, and the Susoaidaira Plateau near Mt. Asahidake.
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