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.
DURATION: 3 hours +
BEST TIME: June and October for a symphony of brilliant color. December to February for skiing and onsen.
BUSES: Donan Bus (www.donanbus.co.jp) Sapporo–Toyako Line (4 daily / 3hrs / ¥2830) follows this route and stopping at the main attractions. 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.
Jozankei Onsen›› Sapporo’s best onsen resort (including Koganeyu and Hoheikyo) along the scenic scenic 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.
0km to 27km
Sapporo to Jozankei Onsen
From Sapporo Station bus terminal stop 12, Jotetsu Bus 8 runs to Jozankei (70min / ¥790) via Koganeyu (小金湯) near Sapporo Pirika Kotan (in Eastern Jozankei Onsen). 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 the Donan Bus Sapporo–Toyako line (compulsory reserved) from Sapporo Station bus terminal stop 10 to Jozankei.
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. Jozankei bus stop is located near the Hotel Milione on Route 230.
27km to 65km
Jozankei Onsen to Kimobetsu
Donan Bus Sapporo–Toyako line makes a 10-minute break at the scenic pass Nakayama-toge (中山峠) Kimobetsu-side car park overlooking Yotei-zan. You can admire good mountain views and buy ageimo (big deep-fried potato).
Kimobetsu (喜茂別) is a major road junction at the northern foot of Shiribetsu-dake (1107m) where Route 230 and Route 276 collide. You can change buses here to Kutchan via Kyogoku, or Date via Kitayuzawa Onsen. Sato-no-eki Hotto Kimobetsu Aspeila near the bus stop serves local cuisine (10am-3pm).
Rusutsu Resort (ルスツリゾート) 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.
Sapporo–Toyako buses stop at Rusutsu Resort Hotel. There are also buses here to Kutchan via Makkari and Niseko Hon-dori continue to Kutchan.
The tourist complex Toya Mizu-no-eki (とうや水の駅) on the pleasant northern shore of Toya-ko has a tourist information office and a reasonable noodle shop.
All Sapporo–Toyako buses stop here. From here, a few local buses for Toyako Onsen via Tsukiura (月浦) or Sobetsu (壮瞥) follows the scenic shoreline on the Toya-ko Ring Road with perfect places for camping.
90km to 103km
Toya Mizu-no-eki to Toyako Onsen
Sapporo–Toyako bus return to Route 230 and passes through the Silo Observatory (サイロ展望台) bus stop overlooking the picturesque lake.
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.
From Toyako Onsen bus terminal, Donan Bus operates frequent local buses to Toya Station (18min / ¥340) on the JR Muroran Line and direct highway buses to Noboribetsu Onsen (1.5hrs / ¥1730).