Constructed in 1870 as the shortest road between Sapporo and Hakodate, Route 230 is one of Hokkaido’s most popular driving routes pass through Jozankei Onsen and Rusutsu Resort. The autumn foliage peaks around Nakayama Pass during October. It is also an alternative route to Niseko from Sapporo.
Donan Bus Sapporo–Toyako Line (4 daily / 3hrs / ¥2830) follows this route and stopping at the main attractions along Route 230. Compulsory reservation before you ride at Sapporo Station (or call 011-865-5511: bound for Toyako Onsen) or Toyako Onsen (or call 0142-75-2351: bound for Sapporo) bus terminals.
Sapporo to Toyako Onsen (Route 230)
DURATION: 3 hours +
BEST TIME: June and October for a symphony of brilliant color / December to February for skiing and onsen
Jozankei Onsen & Hoheikyo Onsen ›› Sapporo’s oku-zashiki (inner parlor) along the scenic mountain valley.
Nakayama Pass ›› Halfway between Sapporo and Toyako Onsen overlooking Yotei-zan, snap up a snack of ageimo (big deep-fried potato).
Rusutsu Resort ›› The highland leisure complex of Rusutsu has a number of family-oriented attractions with ski slopes and an amusement park.
Founded in 1869 as the capital of Hokkaido, Sapporo is the starting point of Route 230. The modern city center has pleasant gridded streets, relaxed parks and handsome Western-style historic buildings.
TRAVEL BY BUS ›› From Sapporo Station bus terminal stop 12, Jotetsu Bus 8 runs to Jozankei (70min / ¥790) via Koganeyu (小金湯) near Sapporo Pirika Kotan. Jotetsu Bus 7 (6 daily / 1.5hrs) and the comfy Kappa Liner (7 daily / 70min / reserved-seat) continues to Hoheikyo Onsen (¥960) via Jozankei. Otherwise, you can take a Toyako-bound Donan Bus (compulsory reserved) from Sapporo Station bus terminal stop 10.
Jozankei Onsen 定山渓温泉
Set on the upper stream of Toyohira-gawa in the northern part of Shikotsu-Toya National Park, Jozankei is Sapporo’s main onsen resort surrounded by forested mountains. It is well worth a day trip or an overnight from Sapporo for a relaxing.
TRAVEL BY BUS ›› Donan Bus Sapporo–Toyako line (and Jotetsu Bus) Jozankei bus stop is located near the Hotel Milione on Route 230.
DETOUR: 2km South of Jozankei Onsen
Hoheikyo Onsen 豊平峡温泉
Sapporo’s best onsen with 100% free-flowing hot sulfur spring, the large-scale open-air bath has good views of the mountains and starry sky. Indian cuisine is speciality of this place. It is open from 10am to 10.30pm (¥1000). Hoheikyo Onsen is the last stop of the Jotetsu Bus 7 and the Kappa Liner from Sapporo Station via Jozankei (6min / ¥150).
中山峠 Nakayama Pass
On the border pass of Sapporo and Kimobetsu (in Shiribeshi Region), Nakayama-toge is a good place to break up a driving on Route 230. You will overlooking Yotei-zan on a clear day. The popular roadside station Michi-no-eki Boyo Nakayama (道の駅望羊中山) sells tasty ageimo (あげいも: big deep-fried potato), a speciality take-away food here.
TRAVEL BY BUS ›› Sapporo-Toyako buses make a 10-minute break at the Kimobetsu-side car park. You can admire good mountain views and buy ageimo.
Kimobetsu is a scenic road junction at the northern foot of Shiribetsu-dake (1107m) where Route 230 and Route 276 collide. Sato-no-eki Hotto Kimobetsu Aspeila (郷の駅ホッときもべつアスペーラ) in the town center serves local cuisine (10am-3pm).
TRAVEL BY BUS ›› Kimobetsu bus stop is just a short walk from the Aspeila on Route 230. You can change buses here to Kutchan via Kyogoku, or Date-Monbetsu Station via Kitayuzawa Onsen.
Rusutsu Resort ルスツリゾート
Rusutsu is best known for both its ski resort and amusement park. The 42km-long ski slopes laid out the three mountains look over from Yotei-zan and Toya-ko. Just 1.5km west from here, you will find the Michi-no-eki 230 Rusutsu (道の駅230ルスツ) with an excellent farmer’s market.
TRAVEL BY BUS ›› Sapporo–Toyako buses stop at Rusutsu Resort Hotel. There are also buses here to Kutchan via Makkari and Niseko Hon-dori. These buses stop at Rusutsu (留寿都) opposite the village hall.
Toya Mizu-no-eki とうや水の駅
Located 4.5km south of Route 230 along Prefectural Road 66, this tourist complex on the pleasant northern shore of Toya-ko has a tourist information office and a reasonable noodle shop. You will find the perfect places for camping along the Toya-ko Ring Road.
TRAVEL BY BUS ›› All Sapporo–Toyako buses stop here, then return to Route 230 and passes through the Silo Observatory (サイロ展望台) bus stop overlooking the picturesque lake. From the Mizu-no-eki, a few local buses for Toyako Onsen via Tsukiura (月浦) or Sobetsu (壮瞥) follows the scenic shoreline.
Toyako Onsen 洞爺湖温泉
Toyako Onsen lies on its southern shore, take at least stay one night off your trip. A lakeside promenade is a good stroll place, with a free ashi-yu (footbath). From late April to October, the fireworks set off on the lake at 8.45pm every night.
CONNECTIONS ›› From Toyako Onsen, it is a 160km drive to Hakodate along the Uchiura Bay on Route 37 and Route 5. Donan Bus operates frequent local buses to JR Toya Station (18min / ¥340) and direct highway buses to Noboribetsu Onsen (1.5hrs / ¥1730) from Toyako Onsen bus terminal.