Jozankei Tengu-dake

定山渓天狗岳 | Kitoushinupuri

Posted on Oct 20, 2020
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Posted on Oct 20, 2020

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Reading time: 6 min
9.2km

Distance

5.5 hours

Time

725m

Ascent

1145m

Highest point

6/10

Difficulty

Best season icon (Hokkaido Wilds)
Jun-Nov

Best season

The steep and jagged peak of Jozankei Tengu-dake (定山渓天狗岳, 1145m) gives one of the most exciting day walks in the vicinity of Sapporo. This ancient volcano has been weathered into a series of rocky summits guarded on all sides by cliffs, and its precipitous summit ridge can only be reached after an easy short scramble up an eroded gully. From here the views stretch out over the surrounding mountains as a fitting reward for the effort.

We visited this route on Sep 3, 2019

Featured image by Markus Hauser

Last updated Oct 27, 2020

Route Map

Need to know details

Location

Jozankei Tengu-dake is west of the popular spa town of Jozankei 定山渓 near Sapporo City. The route starts at about 440m elevation from a trailhead, here, beside Prefectural Route 95 around 10km from Jozankei.

General notes

The Ainu name for this peak is Kitoushinupuri meaning ‘mountain with abundant wild garlic’. Hokkaido Natsuyama Gaido 1, 北海道夏山ガイド 1 道央の山々 (Hokkaido Shimbunsha), p.90. Curiously, the peak is marked as Tengu-yama (天狗山) on official maps, but locally (including the summit sign) it’s referred to as Tengu-dake (天狗岳). We can only assume this is to differentiate it with another Tengu-yama nearby (Zenibako Tengu-yama). The nearest facilities are in the nearby spa town of Jozankei. The summer hiking season is from late May into November.

Hut

None

Route

From the trailhead (location) take the forest road that runs downstream beside the river for about half an hour to the signposted start of the climbing trail, 天狗岳入口 . This follows the Kumanosawa 熊ノ沢 creek up the mountainside, with some stream crossings and steep sections to negotiate, with occasional ropes for assistance. After around 90 mins the path branches right where the creek divides and goes up the hillside to emerge below the summit cliffs. Continue up to the foot of a steep gully which is climbed with the aid of a fixed rope. From here follow the path for another few minutes along a narrow ridge with steep drops to the side and gain the summit, in total about two and a half to three hours from the trailhead.

Route Timing
Up | 3hrs
Down | 2.5hrs

Transport

Public transport:

There is no public transport access.

By car: 

Take Prefectural Route 95 from Jozankei towards the Toyoha Mine 豊羽鉱山 for about 10km. The trailhead is on the right just over the Shirai River 白井川 that runs beside the road. There is space for a few cars over the bridge, here. The trailhead is at 440m and is also the start for a route up Yoichi-dake 余市岳 that takes the forest road continuing ahead. For Tengu-dake 定山渓天狗岳 turn right and follow the forest road running downstream for around 30 mins to the start of the climbing trail.

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).

Official Topo Map: Yoichi-dake (余市岳) – map no. NK-54-14-14-4
Official Topo Map 2: Muine-yama (無意根山) – map no. NK-54-14-15-3

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

This can be a dangerous place in bad weather with real risks of hypothermia for poorly equipped hikers. Carry appropriate gear. There is some mild scrambling involved up a rocky gully with a fixed rope, it is not difficult when dry but watch out for falling rocks if other climbers are around. Despite being so close to Sapporo this is very much bear country.

Weather forecast

Windy.com weather forecast for Jozankei Tengu-dake

Onsen nearby

The popular spa town of Jozankei has many onsen for day visitors ranging from upmarket tourist hotels to the cheaper but still well-appointed Yu no Hana 湯の花 chain (湯の花 定山渓殿, location, 850yen).

Extra Resources

In Japanese: Hokkaido Natsuyama Gaido 1, 北海道夏山ガイド 1 道央の山々 (Hokkaido Shimbunsha). These guides are updated every few years.

Show Full Route Notes Close Route Notes

Route Trip Notes

THE TAIL-END OF SUMMER

By Rob Thomson and Markus Hauser
Date hiked: 3rd September, 2019

Markus was visiting from Switzerland, and we had a precious couple of days to do some nearby exploring. We settled on a day hike up Jozankei Tengu-dake, and to make things a little more exciting, we decided to make a ‘short-cut’ across the Shirai River to the trailhead. The official start to the route, you see, is next to a gate across a gravel road, requiring a 30 minute walk before getting to the actual trailhead.

“The trailhead is only 200m from here,” I proffered. “Why don’t we just bush-bash to the river, walk across, and then we’re there? That would save us the 30 minutes walking that long gravel road.”

“Sounds good to me,” replied Markus.

The logic was solid. Watertight. Indisputable.

With our genius plan agreed upon, we threw ourselves into the head-high sasa bamboo grass. We were feeling more than a little smugness that we were blazing a new trail rather than following the sheeple schmucks wasting their time walking 30 minutes along the gravel road.

The ice-cold Shirai River was refreshing.

But really, that was the only thing good about this ‘shortcut’.

After about 45 minutes of decent effort, we finally made it to the official trailhead.

Assuming a brisk walking pace along the gravel road from the official start point, we’d probably added at least 25 minutes to the trip time. Furthermore, because we left the car on the side of the road (here), we’d need to come back this way on the return.

A fun lesson learned!

We were now able to start climbing in earnest. It was a hot day. Humid. The gorgeous greenery gave us good shade from the heat of the sun though.

True to numerous route guides’ words, there were a few sections of the route requiring some mild scrambling up rocky bluffs. There were set ropes available for use, but there were plenty of hand-holds to grab onto too. 

Once all the scrambling was done, we were more or less done. A quick traverse of the narrow summit ridge, and we were there.

Curiously, locally the mountain’s peak is called Jozankei Tengu-dake (天狗岳), but on official maps, it’s marked at Tengu-yama (天狗山).

The descent was the same trail as the ascent. Down climbing the steep sections was greatly aided by the ropes. And of course, due to our own route-finding brilliance (ahem), we still had a river crossing awaiting for us at the end of the hike.

Considering the extra effort of bush-bashing our way back to the car, I made the most of the situation and had a quick dip in the river.

All in all a very nice way to spend a summer’s day!

AN AUTUMN HIKE

By Rick Siddle
Date hiked: 19th October, 2014

It was a lovely clear autumnal morning but chilly in the shade at the trailhead. A brisk walk along the river soon warmed us up and we reached the start of the trail proper in good time. From here we followed the stream up, in places traversing above it or climbing steep sections to bypass a bluff. After leaving the stream and climbing up through the forest we arrived at the foot of the rocky gully. There were plenty of holds and the rope wasn’t really necessary. The gully deposited us on a narrow ridge in quite a dramatic position, and we followed the path up and around some outcrops to the summit. A few other people were on the small summit so we found a sheltered spot in the sun above a steep cliff and enjoyed the views over to Lake Sapporo, Muine-yama and Yotei-zan while having lunch.

Then it was time to go down, dropping back down the gully into the autumn forest brightly lit up in the afternoon sunlight. Although close to Sapporo, Jozankei has always been notorious for bears and at one point by the trail we came across a tree heavily scratched by large claws; we decided that we would rather not meet the owner. A little further down I tried jumping the stream only to slip on a slimy mossy rock and crash heavily into the water. Luckily I wasn’t hurt but it was a rookie mistake nonetheless. The final hike back along the river was a feast of blazing colour as the sun picked out the trees on the hillside above us.

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