The pleasant rural town of Kuromatsunai (黒松内) is a nice place to relax before of after visiting the international resort Niseko. Slow your pace and take the time to walk on the footpaths with a countryside view.
黒松内フットパス / www.kuromatsunai.com/kanko/
There are four signed footpaths to the picturesque countryside, hills and forest. The popular footpath Choposhinai Course (チョポシナイコース: 10km) begins with a ride on the train to Neppu Station (熱郛駅), one stop east of Kuromatsunai. Otherwise, you can park your car at the michi-no-eki (roadside station) Kuromatsunai. Hike along the serene river and beyond the hill of Higashi-yama (東山: 190m), you can overlooking the rural town. The hike takes about three hours.
To stretch your leg more from the town center, continue to follow the Teranosawa-gawa (寺の沢川) to Utasai Forest Park (歌才森林公園) via Kuromatsunai Onsen. Pick up a footpath map (¥200) from the michi-no-eki.
Utasai Beech Forest
Utasai Buna-rin / 24hrs / FREE
Japan’s northern limit zone of the beech forest designated as a natural treasure in 1928, the 3km return walks begin at Utasai Forest Park and the car park on Prefectural Road 266. June and October are the best seasons to see the vividly colored forest.
The Buna Center (ブナセンター: 9am-5pm, to 8pm Thu; Closed Mon & Tue except holiday) has small exhibition of the beech forest and hiking maps. A footpath (30min) is the best way to visit here if you walk from JR Kuromatsunai Station.
Kuromatsunai Onsen Buna-no-mori
黒松内温泉ぶなの森 / 545 Kuromatsunai / 11am-9.30pm, to 9pm Nov-Mar / Closed 1st Wed, 1st & 3rd Wed Nov-Mar / ¥500 / www.kuromatsunai.com/kanko/stay/bunanomori/
This onsen is a good place for a soak after hiking, located at the gateway of Utasai Forest Park. It has contemporary indoor and open-air baths. There are five buses from JR Kuromatsunai Station (4min) except Sunday and holiday.
04 DAIRY PRODUCTS
トワ · ヴェール / 152-4 Mena / 10am-6pm, to 5pm Nov-Mar / Closed Mon / www.toitvert.jp
The town’s handmade specialities processing center Toit Vert offers tasty cheese fondue, sausage, ham and ice cream overlooking the picturesque meadow hills. It is about 4km northwest from JR Kuromatsunai Station. There is also a footpath Nishizawa Course (10km) that starts at Utasai Shizen-no-ie. We recommend catch a taxi or driving.
05 ROADSIDE STATION & DAIRY PRODUCTS
Michi-no-eki Kuromatsunai (Toit Vert II)
トワ · ヴェール · ドゥー / 7-8-10 Shiroikawa / 9am-6pm, to 5pm Nov-Mar / Closed 2nd & 4th Tue Nov-Mar, Pizzeria Tue / Wi-Fi
Inside the roadside station Kuromatsunai (also called the Toit Vert II) on Route 5, it has a restaurant, bakery and pizzeria using local dairy products. This is the best place to take a break after hiking or long-distance drive. It is a 8-minute walk from JR Neppu Station.
For Kuromatsunai, four local trains on the JR Hakodate Line run from Oshamanbe (4 daily / 25min) and Otaru (2.5hrs) via Kutchan (1hr 20min).