Halfway between Kamikawa (north side of Daisetsuzan National Park) and Monbetsu along the clear stream of Shokotsu-gawa (渚滑川), the picturesque valley town of Takinoue (滝上: meaning ‘above the waterfalls’ in Japanese) famed for its hillside shibazakura (芝桜: moss phlox) gardens. Early May to early June is the best time to visit the town.
Highlights Takinoue Park Moss Phlox Festival, Takinoue Gorge in autumn and winter
Tourist Information Takinoue Tourist Association (滝上町観光協会): On the 2nd floor of the Michi-no-eki Kaori-no-sato Takinoue / takinoue.com
01 HERB GARDEN
滝上公園 / Takinoue Koen / Moss Phlox Festival 8am-6pm 1st Sat in May-2nd Sun in Jun (¥500) / takinoue.net
Dating back to 1957 as a single mandarin box filled with seedlings, this 10-hectare hillside park is covered in shibazakura (moss phlox) from early May to early June. Admission fee is ¥500 during the Moss Phlox Festival.
Also called Kinsenkyo (錦仙峡), a 2km-long hiking path winds through Takinoue Gorge following Shokotsu-gawa, a refreshingly clear stream with rugged rocks and waterfalls.
You can overlooking the gorge from the Niji-no-hashi (虹の橋: 2-storey ‘rainbow bridge’) where there was a railway bridge. In winter, the tourist association can arrange guides for snowshoe tours in the frozen gorge.
03 LOCAL HISTORY
Takinoue Folk Museum
滝上町郷土館 / Kyodokan / Moto-machi / 9am-4.30pm May-Oct / Closed Mon, Tue & holiday / ¥150
The town’s small museum displays donated items from the Meiji period, including stuffed local animals and an old steam locomotive.
04 HISTORIC BUILDING
Kitami-Takinoue Station Memorial Hall
北見滝ノ上駅舎記念館 / Ekisha Kinenkan / Sakae-machi / 10am-4pm Apr-Oct / FREE
Housed in a wooden old train station on the JNR Shokotsu Line discontinued in 1985, this building features local railway history, tickets and station signboards. It is next to Takinoue bus stop.
05 HERB GARDEN & LUNCH
フレグランスハウス / Kaori-no-sato Herb Garden, Moto-machi / 9am-4.30pm May-Oct
On the hilltop of Kaori-no-sato Herb Garden (香りの里ハーブガーデン), the lovely Fragrance House makes a good stop for lunch and tea, where dishes are seasoned with locally grown herbs. This house has a souvenir shop with a wide range of peppermint products.
Walking Around Takinoue Gorge
DURATION 2.5 HOURS | TIMING EARLY MAY – MID JUN FOR MOSS PHLOX, OCTOBER FOR AUTUMN COLORS
START: Takinoue Bus Stop
↓ 1min walk
04 Kitami-Takinoue Station Memorial Hall
↓ 7min walk
02 Niji-no-hashi & Takinoue Gorge
↓ 5min walk
01 Takinoue Park (Moss Phlox Festival)
↓ 20min walk along Takinoue Gorge
03 Takinoue Folk Museum
↓ 10min walk
FINISH: 05 Fragrance House
Intercity and local buses depart from Takinoue (滝上) bus stop beside the old train station, with a stop at Asahi-machi (旭町) in the town center. There is no bus ticket office in town.
Intercity buses connects Takinoue with Sapporo Station (4 daily / 4hrs) and Asahikawa Station (4 daily / 2hrs 18min). Some buses stop at Kamikawa Station (70min) on the JR Sekihoku Line. Compulsory reservation.
From Monbetsu terminal, buses run to Takinoue (9 daily / 1hr 25min) via Asahi-machi. Don’t go to Takinoue Eigyosho (滝上営業所) terminus.