Asahidake and Nakadake-onsen Loop Hike


Posted on Jan 29, 2019
97 21

Posted on Jan 29, 2019

97 21








Highest point



Best season icon (Hokkaido Wilds)

Best season





At 2291m, Asahidake (旭岳) is the highest peak in Hokkaido and one of the 100 Famous Mountains (百名山 | hyakumeizan) of Japan. Combined with amazing views over the rugged volcanic scenery of the Daisetsuzan range and relatively easy access via a ropeway it’s not surprising that it's one of the most popular destinations for local hikers and visitors alike. While it is a straightforward climb from the upper ropeway station and back, if the weather conditions are good and you have the time it is well worth dropping off the back of the mountain and returning via the wild onsen at Nakadake to make a longer day of it.

We visited this route on Jul 14, 2013

Last updated Mar 27, 2024


Route Map

Need to know details


Asahidake is the highest peak in the Daisetsu mountain range in central Hokkaido. This hike starts and finishes at 1600m from the upper ropeway station at Sugatami (here) on the western flank of the mountain above Asahidake Onsen spa.

General notes

The main season for summer hiking on Asahidake is July and August; before and after this you need to be prepared and equipped for snow on the ground and/or falling from the sky. The base for this climb is at Asahidake Onsen (here), a small collection of lodgings and hot springs below the ropeway up the mountain. It is a major tourist destination and can be busy with coachloads of sightseers from Japan and neighbouring countries, especially in summer and during the season for autumn colours. Accommodation options include a youth hostel and a campsite as well as local Japanese style pensions and hotels. The upper ropeway station at Sugatami has toilets and a small restaurant. There are no safe and/or guaranteed water sources beyond this point. In high season (June-late October) the ropeway operates every 15 minutes from 06:30 up to 17:30 down (08:00 – 17:00 later in the season – be sure to check the schedule) and costs 2900 yen round trip (

Route Timing
Up | 2.5hrs
Down | 2hrs

If doing the loop via Nakadake onsen expect to take around 7-8hrs in total.


The route is well defined, but if descending directly from the summit back to the ropeway in mist be careful not to lose the path (see Route Safety). If continuing on to Nakadake onsen (中岳温泉) the trail junctions are marked by large signposts (in Japanese). From the summit take the trail east heading to Mamiyadake (間宮岳, 2185m, about 1 hour) down past the Ura-asahi designated camping area (no facilities). Early in the season this descent will be over a large snowfield. From Mamiyadake head north to the Nakadake Junction (中岳分岐, 30mins). Here drop off the ridge to the west down to Nakadake onsen (40mins) and Susoaidaira (裾合平, 1hr). Then take the marked trail south back to the ropeway at Sugatami (姿見, 1hr 40 mins).


Public transport:

From JR Asahikawa Train Station, there is a bus (Ideyugo, いで湯号), operated by the Asahikawa Denki Kido Bus company (tel: 0166 23 3355), that runs to the Asahidake-Onsen spa area. As of November 2019, there were four buses per day there (07:11, 09:41, 13:11, 16:24) and four returning (09:30, 12:00, 15:30, 18:00). The fare is around 1430yen one way, and it takes around 1 hour 40 minutes. See the link to the Ideyugo Bus timetable at the very bottom of this page:

By car: 

There is easy road access from the Asahikawa direction. There is ample parking in the large car parks by the ropeway station (around here), some may charge fees.


Asahidake Refuge (full details here)

The Asahidake Refuge (旭岳石室, 1,660m) is a basic but well-built stone hut on the western flanks of Asahidake, Hokkaido’s highest mountain, located in the Daisetsu mountain range in central Hokkaido. The hut is designated as an emergency-use only hut – non-emergency overnight stays are not allowed. The hut is only 20 minutes walk from the Sugatami ropeway station.

Physical maps
  • Asahi-dake 1:25,000 hiking map in English by Markus Hauser (buy on Amazon here).
  • Daisetsuzan 大雪山. Yama to Kogen Map Series No 3. Published by Shobunsha. 1:50,000. Includes course times and trail information (in Japanese). ISBN: 9784398766038
GSI Topo Map: Asahidake (旭岳) – map no. NK-54-7-3-3
GSI Topo Map 2: Aizankei Onsen (愛山渓温泉) – map no. NK-54-7-2-4

NOTE: The GSI 1/25000 topo map(s) above can be purchased for 350yen each from Kinokuniya bookstore next to Sapporo Station or online (in Japanese).

route safety

On a fine summer day with hordes of other walkers around you’ll wonder what all the fuss is about, but this is a dangerous place in bad weather with real risks of hypothermia for poorly equipped hikers. Conditions can change quickly, it is very exposed to the wind and the upper slopes can be much colder than down at the lower ropeway station. Carry appropriate gear. In poor visibility people have strayed off the path descending from the summit and wandered down the southern slopes of the mountain. This is the location of the (in)famous SOS Incident of 1989, in which a rough SOS sign made of lumps of wood was spotted from the air; human remains were later found nearby. The route on to Nakadake onsen tends to be much less busy and takes you into bear country. There are usually park rangers at the upper ropeway station who can offer advice.

Weather forecast weather forecast for Mt. Asahi-dake

Onsen nearby

This walk has the attraction of one of the highest and wildest hot springs in Hokkaido at Nakadake onsen. It’s small and pretty hot, though, and most people just soak their weary feet for a while. Back down at the trailhead are a number of hot springs that take day visitors, including the youth hostel Daisetsu Shirakabaso (here) a few hundred meters down the road (800yen per person).

Extra Resources
  • Hokkaido Natsuyama Gaido 2, 北海道夏山ガイド 2 表大雪の山々 (Hokkaido Shimbunsha, in Japanese). These guides are updated every few years.

Guide Options

If you’d like to hike this route and/or explore other hikes in the central Hokkaido area together with a local certified guide, get in touch with Yasuko Kikuchi. Born and raised in Hokkaido, she’s a JMGA-certified guide now based in Sapporo. Her outdoor experience is broad and worldwide, having worked as a Canadian Ski Patrol member, and has sumitted a number of 6,000m+ peaks around the world. She speaks good English. In addition to Yasuko, also see a full list of English-speaking Hokkaido Mountain Guides Association (HMGA) guides on the HMGA website here

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Show Full Route Notes Close Route Notes

Route Trip Notes

I’ve only ever done Asahidake as a day hike once, the other times have been the start of multi-day excursions into the range. Although it’s a bit of a steady slog up the often busy route above the ropeway, you are compensated by the classic volcanic scenery, hissing steam vents and expanding views. The summit can sometimes be crowded and you might even have to queue for your turn for a selfie by the marker post.

The route down the other side varies with the time of year from a wide snowfield that is fun to slide down to a loose rutted track that isn’t. One time there was a guided group coming up the snowfield that reminded us of those pictures of the queues of climbers on the Lhotse Face of Everest. Well, almost.

At the bottom you pass by the Ura-asahi designated camping spot. It is an open col with no facilities but a few rock walls have been built to shelter tent sites from the wind. Then it’s a gentle climb up to Mamiyadake. This is one of the most scenic stretches of trail with lots of flowers blooming in July. Later in the season, as you look back to the small crater of Kumagatake on your left the snow patches form a smiley face to reflect your mood.

Once on the broad main ridge it’s a half hour walk north with expansive views into the large crater of Ohachidaira on the right and Hokuchindake, Hokkaido’s second highest peak, ahead.

At the signposted junction you turn left and drop down to Nakadake onsen. This is just a small pool in the riverbed. My companion and I refreshed ourselves by soaking our tired feet in the steaming tub. Then we carried on down though the increasingly green meadows and occasional marshy spots of Susoaidaira to the junction with the trail that took us around the flank of the mountain and eventually back to the ropeway at Sugatami.

Comments | Queries | Reports

Done this Mt. Asahi-dake route? Thinking of doing it? Please post any feedback or queries here. Thanks!

21 thoughts on “Asahidake and Nakadake-onsen Loop Hike”

  1. I just hiked the loop today (15 Aug), and it was an amazing experience! I got up super early to catch the first cable car up to ensure i had ample time to hike the entire loop as I’m still a beginner (Climbed Mt Fuji a year ago, and mostly climbed Furanodake via the Ansei Crater the day before.) The first car leaves at 6:30am, and the ticket window opens at 6:15. But there was already a line out front before then. Also the price for a round trip is now 3200 yen. Credit cards are accepted. Everything is still accurate.

    I just wanna stress that the descent down the back side of Asahidake was very steep as there were only a handful of switch backs at the top. Its just a straight shot down the rest of the way. The risk of slipping can’t be over stated, and i think it deserves more attention brought to it. I highly recommend gloves for this one section alone as i was somewhat crab walking all the way down.

    1. Sounds like a good day out! Thanks for the feedback and updates on the ropeway. That drop off the back is indeed steep and loose once the large snow field has gone. Out of interest, what time did you make it back to the ropeway?

      1. I didnt actually start the hike until around 6:50, and I arrived back at 2:20. Approximately 7.5 hrs total; plenty of time to spare to catch the last cable car. This was with countless stops to take pictures, catch my breath, rehydrate, and a hand full of longer rests: top of Asahi, the hot spring (dont forget a small towel to dry your feet off btw), and in that meadow/marshy valley just after the hot spring, and maybe one or two more that Im forgetting.

        1. Thanks again, that’s really helpful. Trying to give a realistic average route time can be quite a headache given all the variables involved so it’s good to know I was roughly on target!

  2. Hi Rick! Thank you so much for the detailed information I appreciate it!

    Just wanted to ask, after taking the trail back to Sugatami, do we also take the ropeway back down to the Asahidake Ropeway Station? Is this ride also included in the estimated 7-8 hours completion of the hike?

    Thank you! 🙂

    1. Yes, the route finishes back at the ropeway station and you need to ride it back down. It’s only about a quarter of an hour trip but obviously you might have to wait for the next one. Times are just for the walk but it’s all a bit subjective, many people will be faster, a few slower.

      1. Is there a way to go down if we miss the ropeway?
        because the ropeway works 08:00-17:00 so kind of tight for a 8 hour hike

        1. There is a trail down but I’ve never taken it. Timings are conservative and fit parties will be quicker – I’d say if you are on the summit by midday then it should be fine in good conditions.

  3. Hi Rick! Thanks for the information!
    Do you think this hike is doable late September for hikers with little experience? I’m planning to go there with my 2 teenage sons.

    1. Hi George, Asahidake usually gets its first snow by mid September but it doesn’t always hang around. So no definitive answer – it will depend on the local weather conditions.

  4. Hello, thanks for the information! What is your opinion on doing this loop in mid-June? Is most of it still under a considerable amount of snow?

    1. Hi Andrew, yes there will still be plenty of snow up on the tops behind Asahi-dake covering the trail in many places and possibly the trail junction signs as well. Below is an image looking towards the area from the north that time of year.

      Asahidake from Muka-dake in June

  5. Hi Rick, thank you for the route, looks incredible! I am thinking going there the first week of November, do you think I will need crampons or any special equipment? Do you think I will need a guide or will it be relatively straightforward to find the route?

    1. Hi, the webcam footage for today 10/15 shows no snow at the top station of the ropeway but at this time of year a big dump could come at any time and I’d certainly expect it to be snow conditions by early November. In that case full winter gear and equipment is necessary. And a good stable weather forecast, it can change quickly up there and it’s very exposed. In good clear weather an ascent from the ropeway to the summit is straightforward but if you want to drop off the back and do the circuit you need to have good navigation skills and experience as obviously the trails will be covered and in a whiteout the broad ridges don’t offer many defined features to aid route finding. The route timings above are for summer conditions and it will take longer in snow, and of course daylight hours are shorter. Hope this helps!

    1. Hi Lyn – April is still winter up there and at that time this route would require full winter clothing and gear – crampons and ice axe for Asahidake and depending on conditions snowshoes useful if wanting to go further. The trails and markers will all be under metres of snow. Fine settled weather advisable too! Definitely not for the inexperienced.

  6. Thank you so much for all the great information. We planned to hike in Hokkaido in April. Is this trail doable then?

  7. This trail map looks great!
    Do you consider it save to hike here individually in Juli/August, given adequate condition and navigation skills, or would you advise against it?
    I mainly ask this question because I have no experience with bears or other wildlive present in the area

    1. Hi Jeffrey, should be no problem! The trails are well marked and bears are rarely seen in this part of the park. Just keep an eye on the weather.

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Asahidake and Nakadake-onsen Loop Hike Difficulty Rating





Vertical Gain



Time ascending















GRADES range from A (very difficult) to D (easy). Hazards include exposure to avalanche and fall risk. More details here. Rating rubric adapted from Hokkaido Yukiyama Guidebook 北海道雪山ガイド.