Dokuya-mine Snowshoeing


Posted on Feb 6, 2024

Posted on Feb 6, 2024

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Highest point



Best season icon (Hokkaido Wilds)

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Dokuya-mine 毒矢峰 (885m) is a minor peak in the low mountains to the west of Sapporo City in the Toyoha Mine area of Jozankei. It's a good challenging peak in mid-winter on snowshoes, with a clear ridge to follow and an interesting plateau-like summit approach. The route ascends through beautiful old-growth forest, and while the ascent is steep in places, the steepness lends well to a fun descent in deep snow. In firm spring conditions, the up-and-back climb can take as little as five hours return, but in deep winter, after fresh snowfall, it can take up to 7 hours.

We visited this route on Jan 27, 2024

Hikers: Haidee, Timbah, Koharu



Route Map

Need to know details


Dokuya-mine is one of many minor peaks in the broad low-lying mountain region that borders Sapporo City 札幌市 to the west. It’s within the Sapporo City boundary, just west of the onsen village of Jozankei 定山渓. The hike starts at the Jozankei Tengu-dake 定山渓天狗岳 (1145m) summer trailhead, about half way along dead-end Route 95 heading towards Toyoha Mine 豊羽鉱山.

General notes

Mine 峰 in Japanese is another one of the many ways to refer to peaks and mountains. Dokuya-mine is one such peak. This snowshoe hike is not heading to a mine in the English sense of the word…it is quite definitely hiking up to a peak…a mine. That’s not the end of the naming curiosity related to this peak. Dokuya 毒矢 literally means poison (doku 毒) arrow (ya 矢). So all together, this hike’s highest point is “Poison Arrow Peak”. According to this blog post, the name comes from the fact aconite トリカブト (monkshood/wolfsbane etc) – a flowering plant containing strong toxins – grows (grew?) prolifically on the mountain, and Ainu are said to have trekked up the mountain to prepare poison arrows for hunting. The peak is also sometimes called Bushiya-mine; bushi 附子 being another name for the aconite plant (source).

Dokuya-mine is a relatively popular snowshoeing peak – there’s no summer trail to the summit. Hikers can probably expect that on any given weekend there’ll be a trail broken up to the summit. That’s not always guaranteed, however. When we visited in late January 2024, after three or four days of high winds and heavy snowfall, we were most definitely breaking our own trail. In steeper places, the snow on our uphill legs was up to our hips.

The peak isn’t really one to climb for the views. The peak is shrouded in trees. If the weather is clear, however, you might be able to spot the jagged, precipitous peak of Jozankei Tengu-dake to the west (see this webpage for clear-weather views on Dokuya-mine). The forest, however, particularly in the latter half of the hike, is old and beautiful. Gnarled dakekanba ダケカンバ (Russian rock birch) with their thick, flakey bark are quite charming.

Route Timing
Up | 5hrs
Down | 2hrs

In firm spring conditions, expect about five hours return. In deep winter conditions, this can easily extend to seven hours or more (five hours up, two hours down) when breaking trail the whole way. It’s important not to underestimate this snowshoe hike – it is a very tough one in fresh snow! To labor the point – we had in our group arguably one of the most indefatigable, machine-of-a-trailbreaker that exists (Timbah), and it still took us seven hours.


From the trailhead, head northwest along the snowed-in forestry road that runs beside Migimata-gawa Stream 右股川. In about 1.2km, you’ll cross a bridge over the river, with the trail heading hard left (to the west). This will take you to a forestry road, which forks just after the bridge. Head left along the forestry road (southwest and then northwest) for about 100m before leaving the forestry road to gain the main ridge on the right side of the road.

From where you gain the ridge, the route is sporadically marked with pink tape tied to trees. The first 135m of elevation gain along this ridge is very steep. It’s hard going when there’s fresh snow and you’re breaking trail. Expect this 135m of elevation gain to take a long time – it took us two hours. From the 668m point on the map, the ridge steepness drops off every so slightly…but only slightly. It’s not until you get to the 800m contour line that the ridge eases off.

From the 800m contour line on the ridge to the summit at 885m, it’s a gorgeous 700m or so of well-spaced old-growth forest. It’s a curious zone, in that there are two spurs on the left and right of the main ridge, with depressions in between. Just choose one side and go with it until you get to the summit. Watch out for the false summit at 883m (here) – the ascent ridge naturally funnels you up to this peak to the climber’s left. From there, you’ve got a bit of a descent to join the proper summit approach ridge, to attain the proper summit about 650m to the northwest.

Descend the way you came. If you successfully labored up thigh-deep snow, you’ll now have the joy of flying down bottomless powder.


Public transport:

This route is not accessible by public transport.

By car: 

The company that runs the Toyoha Mine at the end of Route 95 kindly clears a few small areas off the road for winter mountain users. One such small area is at the trailhead for this route. It’s not a carpark as much as it’s an extra-wide passing-bay where three or four cars can park on the side of the road without blocking traffic. Park as far to the left as possible.



Physical maps
GSI Topo Map: () – map no.

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

This route is not for those with no experience of winter mountains. It requires the same safety equipment and skills as backcountry ski touring. In normal deep winter snow conditions, you’ll be sinking down to your waist in places, even with high-floatation snowshoes. It is a long day out so make sure there is enough time. It can be very windy and quite exposed on the final few hundred meters across the plateau to the summit sign.

Weather forecast weather forecast for Dokuya-mine

Onsen nearby

If you are headed back towards Sapporo City, you’ll be passing through Jozankei Onsen area. A favourite of ours is the down-to-earth Matsu-no-yu Onsen on the Sapporo City side of Jozankei Onsen. There’s another onsen right next door (Kogane-yu Onsen), but Matsu-no-Yu has a view of the river and hills. Both onsen have cheap and cheerful restaurants attached. If you have time, you might want to check out the Ainu Culture Center (location) just across the road from the onsen.

Extra Resources

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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Route Trip Notes

It’s not often that we do snowshoeing in Hokkaido. But when the stars align with a good excuse, it can be fun. Today’s excuse was stormy weather the preceding days making us a bit wary of snowpack stability, and Roo not yet quite set up for ski touring.

With stars aligned, we decided to check out Dokuya-mine – peak where access seemed a simple ridge-line climb with a beautiful summit ridge-like plateau. I found it on Yamanomakochan’s blog, where he and his crew skied the route.

“It’s not really a good ski route,” he wrote. “The trees are tight, and it makes sense that the vast majority of people do this peak on snowshoes.”

We got to the trailhead at around 8am. There were three cars parked there already. By the looks of the skintrack, it was clear they were on skis.

“It’s good we’ll have a broken trail,” I remarked. “But maybe we should have been on skis after all.”

The skin track didn’t last for long, however. I’d forgotten that Jozankei Tengu-yama has recently been popular among hardcore Sapporo-based backcountry skiers, with its committing chutes. After crossing the bridge, the skin track veered sharply to the right, and we were left with deep fresh snow laid down over the forestry road extending in front of us.

It had been a very long time since Timbah had been on snowshoes, and despite being on huge high-float snowshoes, it became clear his ankle-high slip-on boots would soon fill with snow. We gave him a couple of Voile straps, which wrapped around his ankles helped keep his trousers over his boots. 

We were on the forestry road for just under an hour before we crossed the stream to our left and gained the steep ridge that would mark the climb proper to the summit. It was around here that we realized quickly that we would be taking much longer than the expected five hours return. The snow was deep and the ridge was steep. Far too steep to climb straight up, Timbah was cutting deep zigzags up the slope.

When things got less steep, Haidee took over the trail-breaking for a while. At places, the snow on the uphill side of her was coming up above her hips.

At around 3.5 hours into the hike, we stopped for lunch at 750m. We still had just over 100m vertical to go.

Mercifully, the slope flattened off more and more as we approached the summit. The snow surface was also less deep here, and our progress quickened.

It was also getting windier near the summit. At the summit proper, we were being buffeted by a strong, cold westerly. We took a quick photo and started our descent.

The descent was great. The deep snow that had slowed our progress on the way up was now allowing us to run down the slopes, cushioned with each long step. 

Koharu had broken her ankle six months prior, and while recovery had gone well, she was still feeling some stiffness and pain as she descended. So Timbah stayed with her as Haidee and I carried on bounding down the ridge.

Haidee and I took our time along the forestry road, looking for dipper birds in the creek. Koharu and Timbah soon caught up for the final push back to the van.

When we got back to the van, the other cars were gone. We could only imagine the chutes they’d skied on Jozankei Tengu-dake.

It was a great day out, sharing some deep snowshoe walking with a great crew. On our way back to Sapporo, we stopped in at Jozankei Yu-no-hana Onsen for a soak and dinner.

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Dokuya-mine Snowshoeing Difficulty Rating





Vertical Gain



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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.