Ichankoppe-yama Hiking

イチャンコッペ山

Posted on Apr 27, 2020
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Posted on Apr 27, 2020

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Reading time: 3 min

7.4km

Distance

4hrs

Time

522m

Ascent

829m

Highest point

4/10

Difficulty

Best season icon (Hokkaido Wilds)
June-Nov

Best season

Despite its modest height of 829m, Ichankoppe-yama イチャンコッペ山 commands stunning views by virtue of its location on the northern rim of the caldera of spectacular Lake Shikotsu. It is also a relatively short and easy walk, though it still has enough climbing and a satisfying ridge to make it feel like a proper mountain day out. For visitors to and residents of the Sapporo area it makes a great introduction to hiking in the mountains of Hokkaido.

We visited this route on May 23, 2015

Route Map

Need to know details

Location

Ichankoppe-yama is on the north side of Lake Shikotsu 支笏湖 in the Shikotsu-Toya National Park 支笏洞爺国立公園, about 40km south of Sapporo City. The hike starts right at the hairpin bend on the descent to Lake Shikotsu on Route 453 from Sapporo. Hikers can park their car at the large Poropinai Observatory car park, here, about 30m from the trailhead.

General notes

Ichankoppe-yama is a great introduction to hiking in Hokkaido and one of the best hills around Sapporo for hiking with children, though there are no facilities at the trailhead or in the immediate area. The nearest facilities are at Shikotsu Lakeside 支笏湖畔 which also has a Youth Hostel. There are accommodation options around the lake including a couple of campsites, the closest being at Morappu モーラップ below Mt Tarumae, here.

The meaning of Ichankoppe in the Ainu language is not clear, possibly river with places where fish spawn or iwana (char) river (Ainu often named mountains after the rivers that originated from them) 北海道夏山ガイド1・道央の山々 (Hokkaido Shinbunsha, 2010), p.144.

The summer hiking season is from mid-May into November, though in fine winter weather it also makes a great destination on snowshoes (see the winter guide here).

Route Timing
Up | 2hrs
Down | 1.5hrs
Route

The trail is well defined throughout. From the car park cross the road to the trailhead by the hairpin bend. The path climbs steeply up through forest to reach the ridge in half an hour or so and then turns right to run roughly along the rim of the caldera, bypassing a minor summit. It then turns away from the lake and climbs up again through sasa dwarf bamboo to a broad shoulder with fine views. From here it continues along the main ridge of the mountain with minor ups and downs to the summit in about two hours total. Return the same way.

In winter an interesting variation (no trail or route markers) that takes in more of the caldera rim starts from the highest point on Route 453, here, just by the junction to the minor road (closed) down to the small lake of Okotanpe. There is a car parking area just north of the junction. From here climb steeply straight up the hillside for a short way to the caldera rim and follow it round and over a minor peak at 718m to join up with the summer route. This will add around three hours more to the day.

Transport

Public transport:

No public transport access.

By car: 

The trailhead is by a car park at the Poropinai viewpoint next to a hairpin bend, here, just above Lake Shikotsu on Route 453 from Sapporo.

Hut(s)

None

Physical maps

Yama to Kogen Chizu 山と高原地図, No.2 Niseko Yoteizan ニセコ・羊蹄山. Published by Shobunsha 昭文社. 1:50000 hiking map in Japanese with marked routes and course times (the Sapporo region hills are at 1:85000).

GSI Topo Map: Eniwa-dake (恵庭岳) – map no. NK-54-14-12-3

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

Although a short and relatively easy walk, the ridge and summit are exposed to the wind so carry appropriate bad weather gear. There are bears around so the usual precautions should be taken. There are also many deer so in early summer especially watch out for ticks.

Weather forecast

Windy.com weather forecast for Ichankoppe-yama

Onsen nearby

The closest onsen is the traditional lakeside facility of Marukoma Onsen (丸駒温泉, location, 1000yen). Though a little expensive (1000 yen) the large outside bath facing across the lake is very atmospheric. The last entry for day visitors is at 3pm so don’t leave it too late.

Extra Resources
No extra English resources that we know of. If you know of any, please let us know in the comments.

Guide Options

If you’d like to hike this route and/or explore other areas of central Hokkaido with a local certified guide, then contact Jun Ishiguro. He’s a JMGA (Japan Mountain Guides Association) mountain guide on the board of directors of the Hokkaido Mountain Guides Association (HMGA). As a senior figure in the Hokkaido guiding scene, and with extensive experience, he can tailor trips to your needs. See a full list of English-speaking Hokkaido Mountain Guides Association (HMGA) guides on the HMGA website here

Show Full Route Notes Close Route Notes

Route Trip Notes

Whenever I fancy an easy but rewarding day out in the hills near Sapporo, Ichankoppe-yama is always top of my list. The views on a fine day are fabulous, taking in the whole of the Lake Shikotsu and its surrounding mountains of Tarumae-zan, Fuppushi-dake and Eniwa-dake, and stretching beyond to the mountains of central Hokkaido in one direction and the Pacific Ocean in the other. 

The climb is steep at the start but after that follows the caldera rim and mountain ridge among forest and open shoulders of sasa dwarf bamboo giving a sense of being on a proper mountain. I have climbed it in all seasons and it is one of the places I like to take visitors for a taste of the Hokkaido hills. On my most recent trip the youngest member of the party was five and managed to run rings around us all.

On snowshoes in winter a longer trek along the rim becomes possible. Jeff and I did this on a beautiful clear day one January, the roadside thermometer on the way out of town showing -11. The short climb from the road warmed us up and when we reached the ridge we emerged into the sun.  A marten passed close by, bouncing around in the snow seemingly unconcerned by our presence. It was the first time I had seen one and it was bigger than I’d expected.  As we walked along the caldera rim the contrast between the snowy peaks and the intense blue of the lake (it never freezes) and sky was breathtaking. 

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Ichankoppe-yama Hiking Difficulty Rating

Category

Grade

Points

Strenuousness

Vertical Gain

C

30

Time ascending

D

0

Technicality

Altitude

C

3

Hazards

D

Navigation

D

Totals

33/100

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.