The Playground of Gods in Spring


I think one of the best things about living in Asahikawa 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 gods. On my way to work, I find myself checking it up through my car windshield 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, mountain climbing lovers at work including myself gathered for the very first snowshoeing at the mountain. It was a kind of warm-up before the climbing season. Here we go!

The Mountain View from the ropeway

It takes only 10 minutes to get to the ropeway station at 1600 meter elevation 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, though she now regrets not accepting your passion.

The view from Asahidaira.
Mt. Asahidake welcomed us with the happiest look. The peak looks like a face; the gradual slope arms opening to us. Don’t you think?

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 this 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!   

Nature creates inimitable powerful art.

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 by the god of thunder who used to play here.

Walking around for another 30 minutes to the turning back point, we ran into another amazing nature creation. The steam blew from down deep as if it was just born from the snow and flying to the blue sky for an adventure. Go for it!

Three hours already passed so fast 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.

You may quench your thirst

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.