The Playground of the Gods in Spring


I think one of the best things about living in Asahikawa city in Hokkaido is nature right next to us. Mountains, rivers, forests, and the vast sky always enrich my body and soul. Daisetsuzan National Park is a prime example. The native Hokkaido people, the Ainu, have called it ‘Kamuy Mintar’ meaning the playground of the gods. On my way to work, I sometimes find myself checking it up through my car how those gods are doing up there.

The park covers Mt. Asahidake, the highest mountain in Hokkaido. Even though the summit is so close to the spring sun, the deep snow on the mountain stays for long where we can enjoy both the snow and the bright sunshine showering down and reflected by snow below. One day in mid May, 2016, I went for the very first snowshoeing at the park, together with my colleagues who love mountain climbing. It was a kind of warm-up before the mountain climbing season. Here we go!

It takes only 10 minutes to get from 1100 to 1600 meter elevation by the ropeway, where you can see the timberline and ecotone of trees. Mt. Asahidake is well-known for its alpine plants inhabitation that is said to be seen at over 3000 meter summits in the mainland of Japan. My father loved the alpine plants around here. While seeing the view from the ropeway, I remembered he had took 6-year-old me to here and enthusiastically explained alpine plants. Poor father, your daughter didn’t care so much about them, though she now regrets not having accepted your passion.

May wind was still cold, but the sun felt great! Walking on the half frozen and slushy snow with snowshoes on was fun! A chorus of crunching footsteps was resonating. It would be the moment when you start forgetting what happened down there. After about 30 minutes of walking, we found spectacular fumarole steaming was roaring. The smells of sulfur made us feel a little nervous. We came to our senses that this mountain was still alive and that we were on the active volcano!   

The layers of massive snow were colored by the sulfur. The Fumarole and the sun thawed the packed snow and exposed the reddish ground, which looks like a remnant after the god of thunder played.

Three hours already passed while communicating with nature at the playground of gods. Look, we all were very happy campers with our back against the neighboring mountains of Daisetsuzan National Park.

There is a cold spring water place called 神水 (water offered by the gods) in Asahidake-onsen at the foot of Mt. Asahidake. Cold and sweet spring water from Mt. Asahidake makes you feel refreshing. It’s not only about the taste but also the effects. The water contains ‘Sulfate’ that is said to help cleanse inside of your body. Thank goodness!

We finished up the tour with the hot spring at Yukomansou. It’s nothing new but absolutely essential. Our adventure can’t end without soaking our weary bodies in the gods’ hot spring.  


Araseki

Born and grew up in Hokkaido. Has loved the mountains and the uniquely colorful four seasons of Hokkaido since birth. Loves traveling overseas and domestic, thinks the best things of traveling are experiencing the local foods, local beers and local hot springs. Recently into growing vegetables on her tiny balcony and cooking them with products from Hokkaido.