Located 13 km southeast of Asahikawa City and 7 km from Asahikawa Airport, Higashikawa is a town blessed with abundant nature and thriving agriculture. With a population of around 8,500, the town is home to a number of ateliers and art galleries, as well as stylish cafes and bakeries. Situated in central Hokkaido, Higashikawa is home to Mt. Asahidake, the highest peak (2,291 m) in Hokkaido. Asahidake forms part of the Daisetsu Mountain Range and is located in the Daisetsuzan National Park (the national park has 20 peaks over 2,000 meters). It is the largest natural large-scale forested park in Japan. Asahidake is famous for its beautiful views of alpine flowers and autumn leaves. You can see over 300 species of alpine plants that you would normally only find at much higher altitudes on the main island of Honshu. Historically, the indigenous people of Hokkaido (the Ainu) called Daisetsuzan “Kamuimintara,” meaning “Playground of the Gods.”The foothills of this ‘playground’ include the Asahidake hot springs. Also in the area are the Hagoromo Falls that fall from a height of 270 meters, the highest in Hokkaido. Natural hot springs also flow through this location. These onsen resorts contain a number of hotels where you can enjoy the delicious local cuisine and excellent hot spring baths. A town rich in nature and culture, Higashikawa has plenty to offer no matter the season.

Asahidake Ropeway whisks you up to the Sugatami Ropeway Station, at an altitude of 1,600 meters, in no time at all. From there, it’s about an hour walk up to Sugatami Pond, during which you’ll come across  Meotoike (couple’s pond) and various alpine plants and flowers. From the Sugatami Ropeway Station, it’s about a two-and-a-half-hour hike to the summit of Asahidake.

Meotoike Pond is approximately a 15 minutes walk from the Sugatami Ropeway Station, then it’s another  25-minute walk up to Sugatami Pond.

Asahidake Onsen Higashikawa in Daisatsuzen National Park Hokkaido

Just minutes away from Asahidake Ropeway Station you’ll find a selection of places to stay. Ideal as a base in any season. A variety of accommodation is available from a three-roomed lodge, to a luxurious multi-roomed hotel that serves a three-course meal every dinner time. All of the places to stay on Asahidake have natural hot springs in which to soak after a tiring day on the mountain. 

Flying in from Tokyo, it takes about 90 minutes to Asahikawa airport. It then takes about 45 minutes from Asahikawa Airport or central Higashikawa town to the Asahidake Ropeway car park by car. Alternatively, ride the shuttle bus called “Ideyugou” from Asahikawa Station via Asahikawa Airport. It’s roughly a 90-minute ride. There are four shuttles a day. As soon as you arrive in Hokkaido you’ll be breathing in nice, clean fresh air and will soon realize that you have left the urban pollution behind and escaped the humidity of Honshu.

Cycling in Asahidake in Higashikawa Central Hokkaido

Snow that has fallen on Asahidake melts in the spring and permeates deep into the earth, where it spends many years underground. Here in Higashikawa, that water is drawn up from out of the ground and used as the town’s water. In other words, the water that comes from the taps and faucets in people’s houses is actually mineral water. Many business owners have found this to be a major drawcard, moving their operations to Higashikawa and running unique cafes.

SEA TO SUMMIT is an environmental sporting event. Taking on this multi-sport race where competitors start with their feet dipped into the sea (or lake) and finish by enjoying a great view from the summit of a mountain helps to raise awareness of the importance of the natural world and nature’s many cycles. You can enter Sea to Summit as an individual or as part of a team.

The event includes an environmental symposium, kayaking, hill-climb cycling and climbing. Competitors of any fitness level are welcome to take part.