Set on the upper stream of Ishikari-gawa in the northeastern part of Daisetsuzan National Park, Sounkyo Onsen (層雲峡温泉) is Northern Hokkaido’s largest hot springs resort and the main base of Kuro-dake. The village sits along the deep gorge with columnar joints and a jumping-off point for Tokachi and Okhotsk regions.
Highlights Kuro-dake, Sounkyo Ice Fall Festival
Tourist Information Sounkyo Tourist Information Center (層雲峡観光案内所): Sounkyo bus terminal / 10.30am-5pm / www.sounkyo.net
01 CABLE CAR & HIKING
黒岳ロープウェイ / Around 6am-6pm Jun-mid Oct, Around 8am-4.30pm winter season (except early-late Jan) / Cable car one-way ¥1400, return ¥2400 / Chairlift one-way ¥600, return ¥800 / 1-day ski ticket ¥4200 / www.rinyu.co.jp/kurodake
This cable car from Sounkyo Onsen makes the rise up to Kuro-dake 5th station (黒岳五号目: at 1300m) in seven minutes. If time is limited, you can overlooking the gorge and mountains around the 5th station in about 30 minutes.
From the 5th station, chairlift rises the 7th station (黒岳七号目: at 1520m). You can hike up to the panoramic summit of Kuro-dake (1984m) in about 1.5 hours in summer (June to October). Chairlift is used by skiers and snowboarders from mid November to early May (except January). Ski and snowshoes rental are available at the 5th station.
Ryusei-no-taki & Ginga-no-taki
About 3km east of Sounkyo Onsen along Route 39 are the spectacular 120m-high Ryusei-no-taki (流星の滝: Shooting Star Falls) and Ginga-no-taki (銀河の滝: Milky Way Falls) at Takimidai (滝見台). From the car park it is a steep 20-minute climb to the Sobakudai (双瀑台) overlooking both falls. A daily bus from Sounkyo (departing at 12.50pm) runs from July to October.
03 ICE FESTIVAL
Sounkyo Ice Fall Festival
氷瀑まつり / Hyobaku Matsuri / 2-10pm late Apr-mid Mar / ¥300
Every winter from late January to mid March, Sounkyo Onsen has its own ice sculptures on the river, featuring buildings and slides. At evening the ice sculptures are illuminated with colored lights.
SOUNKYO ONSEN & KURO-DAKE MAP
INTERCITY BUS: All intercity buses are compulsory reservation.
LOCAL BUS: The closest station to Sounkyo is Kamikawa Station (上川駅) on the JR Sekihoku Line, about an hour from Asahikawa by local train (8 daily).
Dohoku Bus operates 11 times daily between JR Kamikawa Station and Sounkyo (11 daily / 30min), with seven buses going directly to Asahikawa Station stop 8 (2hrs).