InHokkaido

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Climbing Mt Yotei in Mid October

The weekend from 18th to 19th October was said to have great weather in Hokkaido, so I set out to try to climb Mt Yotei (Yoteizan or 羊蹄山). Mt Yotei is one of Japan’s 100 famous mountains and is also called Ezo Fuji, meaning “Fuji of Hokkaido” because of its shape which resembles Mt Fuji. While it is “only” 1898m high, it is Japan’s 10th highest mountain by prominence (basically relating to the elevation of its surroundings). Starting at 300m the difference in elevation is about 1600m, which is pretty close to Mt Fuji’s difference in elevation at 1700m when starting at the 5th station. I chose the Hangetsu route from Hirafu Station, next to Niseko because it was the most accessible to me (as I don’t have a car). The plan was to arrive as late as possible at Hirafu station, maybe stocking up on food at a Convenicene store, having a little rest and then starting the climb at around 1am to reach the summit at sunrise.

I arrived at 21:23 with the last train at Hirafu station and it was pitch black. This time I also took some video footage, but I am not sure really what to do with it yet. I might figure out something later.. Anyway, I was amazed by how much the camera was able to see in the darkness!

To my surprise, there was even a little building beside the tracks and the light was actually still on! I went inside and discovered that it was a little self-service guesthouse. I was even more suprised that there were actually people staying there, as the climbing season in Hokkaido is officially over and the skiing season has not begun yet. The people were very nice and we talked about the surrounding mountains, had tea and I ate something. Assuringly they also told me, that bears (which are not uncommon in Hokkaido) are usually not seen around this area, which was good to start with.
Hirafu

I changed clothes and left at around 23:30 for the trail head, as I wanted to take some pictures along the way. It’s about a 2km walk on a road from the station to the camping ground next to the trailhead. The weather was clear and no clouds in sight, making for an amazing night sky!

Yoteizan

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The Hokkaido University campus – from Summer to Autumn

Attention: this post contains many images, so it might be best to not view it on a mobile connection.

The campus of Hokkaido University is loaded with trees/bushes or other green. Originally being an agricultural University, it has a big research farm with a significant number of fields on its premises as well. In summer, or rather end of summer as I haven’t really experienced summer in Hokkaido, the campus is vividly green. There is only one main road going through the campus, on which cars can drive.

Hokudai

Hokkaido University has a Faculty of Letters! In my opinion it’s a rather unfortunate translation for the Faculty of Literature…

Hokudai

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The Daisetsuzan National Park – Part 3: From Nakadake Onsen to Asahidake Ropeway

Read: Part 1 and Part 2 beforehand if you like to.

Nakadake Onsen

We arrived at Nakadake Onsen and decided to have lunch there. A couple people were there already and some even brought a cooking stove and boiled their eggs in the hot spring. The actual hole of the hot spring was quite small but the water was incredibly hot, probably somewhere around 50-60°C. Therefore the hot spring water was fused with water running down from a snowfield above before it led into the onsen.

Nakadake Onsen

Hot water on the left and cold water on the right: the amount of water being mixed was precisely controlled, to make for the best temperature!

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The Daisetsuzan National Park – Part 2: The Daisetsuzan Traverse in October

Attention, this post contains many images so it might be best not to view it on a mobile connection!

Read Part 1 here.

Initially, I only planned to hike to the summit of Mt. Kurodake on Oct. 5, 2014 because I was told multiple times by outdoor shop staff, tourist information staff and the people working at the Youth Hostel, that the popular Daisetsuzan Traverse was already impossible to do due to snow and bad weather. However, at the Youth Hostel I met Wu from China, who initially planned the same route as I had: to hike from Mt. Kurodake across a part of the National Park to Mt. Asahidake. So we decided that we were going to go up in the morning and see for ourselves if we could do it, in case the weather allowed. Note: we carefully weighted our options and were equipped with additional layers of clothing, flashlights and emergency utilities. Do not attempt this route unprepared! As there are also a lot of Brown Bears in the National Park, one is advised not to go alone and to carry a noisy bear bell. We did not have one, but apparently Brown Bears are in hibernation during the winter – so we were not to see one.
According to our map the trip should take us approximately 7h, but I read reports on the internet of people requiring roughly half the time. We wanted to hike from Mt. Kurodake til the Mt. Nakadake intersection and then decide whether we were going to climb Mt. Asahidake or rather walk around it. A map can be found here. The limiting factor was the last ropeway down from Mt. Asahidake which departed at 17h.

I woke up at 5am, packed my backpack and set out to meet with Kaho from Tokyo, whom I met the day before, in the Youth Hostel lobby. The weather was clear and we wanted to take the first ropeway up. However, there was a huge queue and we turned out to be the first in queue for the second ropeway. Good thing, because the second ropeway was nearly empty so we could go around in look in all directions!

Sounkyo

They morning view from the ropeway was stunning! A lot better than the day before!

Sounkyo

Sounkyo
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The Daisetsuzan National Park – Part 1: Sounkyo

Last weekend I decided that I had to see more of Hokkaido before the winter starts rolling in. Additionally, on most mountains above 1700m, the Autumn colours have already faded away. Therefore, I set out for the place which usually gets the Autumn colours first in Japan: Mount Kurodake. It is located roughly in the centre of Hokkaido and is part of the Daisetsuzan National Park.

sounkyo

I went there by bus, which is apart from going by car the cheapest way to get there. It takes around 4 hours from Sapporo and I had to change half-way at Asahikawa.

Kamigawa

As the bus was just a regular bus, we stopped quite often along the way. This is Kamikawa Station, the furthest I could have gone by train.

Sounkyo

When I arrived at my destination, Sounkyo, the weather cleared up a little and the variety of Autumn colours was amazing. The colours were especially rich because it had just rained…
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A visit to the Sapporo Station JR Tower

Last week after class, I took the opportunity to go on top of the Sapporo JR Tower. The Tower was built directly on top of the Sapporo Main Station and is, according to the brochure, “the place closest to the sky of Hokkaido” at 173m.

Sapporo JR Tower Entrance

Since it has only been completed ‘recently’ in 2003, the interior is very modern looking. But more on that later. An elevator takes one to the 38th floor for 720yen (~5€).

Sapporo JR Tower

The view from the observatory floor is amazing! Even more so because there are only very few other high buildings in Sapporo.
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A walk through Sapporo: The Autumn festival

So, this is my first blog post! As I am going to stay in Sapporo, Japan for half a year, I set out to explore the city a bit and took some pictures along to way. Coincidentally, it is therefore also my first walk through Sapporo :).

 

Hokkaido University

I started off at the Hokkaido University, because I had to get some registration stuff done. The University Campus is famous throughout Japan for its Gingko Tree Avenue. While I thought it already looked great, it’s supposed to get even better when the leaves start turning yellow. Looking forward to that!

Sapporo

Passing through the Avenue, the Sapporo Train Station isn’t far. The Station is quite big, considering that there are only a handful of train lines running through it. However, as I have come to notice Sapporo (and probably the whole of Hokkaido) are mostly travelled by car. So there are huge parking lots everywhere.

Sapporo

The roads are also fairly wide and straight. They are also organized in a grid, making it very easy to get around but a little drab as well.
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