Hakken-zan Half-day Hike (Sapporo City)

八剣山 | U-pa-turasi

Posted on Jun 9, 2020
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Posted on Jun 9, 2020

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Reading time: 3 min
3.5km

Distance

2.5 hours

Time

270m

Ascent

498m

Highest point

3/10

Difficulty

Best season icon (Hokkaido Wilds)
May-Nov

Best season

Hakken-zan (八剣山, 498m) is a fantastic beginner-friendly mountain east of Jozankei in Sapporo City. It is popular because despite its simple, straight forward climb, it gets the heart racing with a precipitous cliff on its southern face, right next to the summit. There was previously a walking track along the knife-edge summit ridge, but this has been closed off now due to a number of people falling. The trail now approaches the summit from a much safer direction. The route here continues northwest from the summit to complete a circuit via the Hakken-zan settlement. Keep an eye out for the Hakken-zan winery and a bakery along the way.

We visited this route on May 11, 2013

Rick Siddle contributed photos to this post.

Last updated Jul 14, 2020

Route Map

Need to know details

Location

This loop hike up Hakken-zan (八剣山), about half way between Makomanai and Jozankei in Sapporo City, starts and finishes at the South Trailhead (南登山口), here.

General notes

For beginner hikers, this will feel like a real adventure (see comments section below). Hakken-zan’s rocky summit has a high exposure factor due to the cliff on the western face. More experienced hikers will also enjoy this hike. It is a quick 2.5 hour hike with a bakery, winery, and orchards along the way.

  • NOTE: We walked this route in 2013. Since then, the knife-edge trail near the summit has been closed. Take the much safer lower approach trail instead.
Hut

None

Route

This route is not marked, but the trail is well-defined. Starting at the southern trailhead, begin the steady climb up to the summit. About 3/4 of the way up, the trail narrows considerably as it sidles to the right of a prominent, ridge-like rocky outcrop. Soon after, hikers will appear at the summit, with a dizzyingly high cliff to the immediate south-west of the summit. Don’t get too close to the edge – there have been three deaths here in the last four years due to hikers slipping off the cliff-edge. Once you’ve had your fill of the view, carry on westwards on the descent down to the Western Trailhead. Follow your nose down along the main road through the orchards to the Central Trailhead. Climb up and over the tunnel back to your start location to complete the loop.

Route Timing
Up | 1hrs
Down | 2hrs

The trail starts climbing towards the summit right from the South Trailhead, but once you’re down the other side at the West Trailhead, there’s still a 1hr or so walk on quiet rural roads to the Central Trailhead and then back to the South Trailhead. This is all to say that most of the climbing is over once you’re at the summit, but there is a little bit of climbing from the Central Trailhead back to the Southern Trailhead.

Transport

Public transport:

There is a bus stop called Hakken-zan Tozan-guchi (八剣山登山口, here) up on the main Route 230, about 1.5km from the central trailhead – this has the most number of buses going to and from Sapporo, on the Jotetsu Bus (じょうてつバス) line number 12 local and number 7 and 8 express buses headed for Jozankei Onsen (定山渓温泉).  There are multiple buses per day leaving both Sapporo Station (bus stop 12) and Makomanai subway Station (bus stop 4), at a frequency of about 1-2 buses per hour. See the timetable here. Note that the Hakken-zan Tozan-guchi bus stop is actually closer to the Central Trailhead, about 2km (route here). There’s also a Hakkenzan-chuo bus stop (八剣山中央, location), however note that the last bus to Sapporo is at 5:15pm (see comments section).

By car: 

There is room for about 10 cars at the South Trailhead, here. There’s a larger car park near the Central Trailhead, here.

Physical maps
Official Topo Map: Jozankei (定山渓) – map no. NK-54-14-15-1

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

route safety

As mentioned above, despite this route being a good beginner-friendly route, there are have been a disproportionate number of search and rescue incidents at Hakken-zan, owing to the precipitous drop off the southwest facing cliff at the summit. Keep well away from the edge. The normal caveats regarding mountain preparedness also apply – make sure you carry foul-weather gear in case the weather turns, take plenty of water and snacks, and tell someone about your plans. Despite the route’s proximity to Sapporo, bear precautions should also be taken.

Weather forecast

Windy.com weather forecast for Hakken-zan

Onsen nearby

There are two onsen to choose from (right next to each other), about 2km from the trailhead. My pick is usually Matsu-no-yu (松の湯, 650yen, here) with its outdoor baths that overlook the river. Kogane-yu (小金湯, 750yen, here) is also great though – it has a number of outdoor tubs (including the one-person ceramic tubs). TOP TIP: Kogane-yu has a free shuttle bus from Sapporo Station or Makomanai Station four times per day – see the details here. It would be a 2km walk from the onsen to the Central Trailhead for Mt. Hakken.

Extra Resources

See Leon Roode’s report with extra information and photos here.

Show Full Route Notes Close Route Notes

Route Trip Notes

While the rest of the crew opted to get to the trailhead from Sapporo by car, Max and I decided to make a bike-and-hike trip out of it. We cycled the 20km one-way journey through the bustling city center from Hokkaido University, and sighed a breath of relief once we were on the quieter side roads heading towards Jozankei.

It was early May, and once we were all on the trail, there was still snow in places along the way. As we climbed, the weather started to pack in, with dark clouds rolling in. This didn’t seem to faze Max, opting today to hike in his kilt.

“Naturally, I’m doing it the traditional way,” he quipped. “So it’s a bit breezy and chilly down there,” he laughed.

By the time we were approaching the summit, a light rain had started to fall. Another reminder to us that it’s always a good idea to carry the rainwear, even if only for an ‘easy’ hike like Hakken-zan.

The rain had dashed our hopes for a leisurely stop at the summit, so we soon all started on the descent down the track towards the Western Trailhead. The trial was still covered in snow in places, encouraging us all to make the most of the lack of traction.

On the walk back along the main road through the orchards, we stopped in to the Hakken Winery for some wine tastings. We felt conspicuously bedraggled in the more up-market surroundings of the winery. But we were the only ones there.

All up a nice afternoon out, despite the weather.

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Comments | Queries | Reports

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

3 thoughts on “Hakken-zan Half-day Hike (Sapporo City)”

  1. Did this hike today on the advice and thought it should absolutely be mentioned that the hike can be both very steep and very slippery. There are ropes between the trees for you to hang on to as you pull yourself up the mountain (and again to grip as you delicately descend). It had rained the night before which likely contributed to the path being slippery but the ‘beginner’ description should definitely not be mistaken for ‘leisurely’. We’re all in our early 20s and managed well enough but anyone who struggles with balance, depth perception, or general agility (eg. if you have unstable/weak knees or ankles) may want to reconsider.
    The hike was strenuous but the view was beyond spectacular and well worth it.
    Also if you caught the bus there, be aware of the timetable when heading back to Sapporo. The last bus left at 17:15 from Hakkenzan Chuo-guchi (central entrance) and the one before that was at 15:15.

    1. Hi Clare, sounds like a memorable day out! Thanks for the feedback, especially about the bus times – much appreciated.

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