We started the day off at Kawayu Onsen – on the way to the bus stop we spotted a Rotenburo (open air bath), which was charmingly located next to the road!
We were heading for the train to go south in a comfy local train..
From the 22th to 24th of February, I went on a trip through Eastern Hokkaido with my friend Park. The landscape of eastern Hokkaido is stunningly beautiful and we were really lucky with the weather. We travelled by bus and JR Trains on a 3 day Rail Pass. In hindsight a rental car would probably have been the more sensible choice as there are only very few buses in remote areas (like three per day) and the JR Trains are not cheap at all – even on a 3 day student pass (20000jpy).
After around five hours on the train from Sapporo, we stopped at Engaru Station. There are only few dead-end stations in Japan, from what I have experienced – in contrast to Europe. However, Japanese trains are of course equipped to deal with that, so it is possible to rotate all seats on the train by 180 degrees! That is also incredibly useful when travelling in groups, as you can just turn the seats and then easily talk with four people!
At Abashiri, we changed trains and hopped onto the Ryuhyo (Japanese for drift ice) Norokko Train, a special, old train that runs along the coast so you can see the drift ice from the train.
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.
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!
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!
They morning view from the ropeway was stunning! A lot better than the day before!
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.
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.
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.
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…