Kotengu-dake Hike


Posted on Jun 25, 2020

Posted on Jun 25, 2020

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Highest point



Best season icon (Hokkaido Wilds)

Best season





Kotengu-dake 小天狗岳 (765m) is a rocky prow standing above Jozankei Dam, visible from Prefectural Route 1 across Lake Sapporo. Its modest height means it can be easily climbed in a few hours return, making it an easy day out for Sapporo residents, especially during the spectacularly colourful autumn. Despite this it is steep in places and its rocky summit gives good views of the lake and over to its more dramatic big brother Jozankei Tengu-dake.

We visited this route on Nov 12, 2017

Last updated Jun 30, 2020


Route Map

Photo Gallery

Need to know details


Kotengu-dake stands beside the dam of Lake Sapporo さっぽろ湖, just north of the spa town of Jozankei 定山渓 near Sapporo City. The trailhead is at the foot of the dam, here.

General notes

The trailhead is in the park at the foot of the Jozankei Dam (ダム下流園地, location), along with a toilet and a small exhibit hall related to the dam, constructed to provide water for Sapporo city. There are no other facilities, the nearest shops are in Jozankei itself. The park is open between 9am and 5pm from spring till autumn, at other times the gate is closed though it is easy enough to go around if necessary.

Route Timing
Up | 1.5hrs
Down | 1hrs

The trailhead and route are clearly defined and signposted. The trailhead 小天狗岳登山口 is at the back of the large carpark, to the left of the Exhibit Hall 資料館 in the landscaped area below the dam ダム下流広場. From here it follows a stream bed and passes under the main road before climbing up on a zig-zag path that eventually emerges onto a ridge in 30-40 mins. Steep sections have artificial steps and the occasional rope for aid. Pass a rocky outcrop on your right and continue on up to the final summit ridge where there is a steep drop off to the right down to Lake Sapporo. The actual summit, reached in about 1.5 hours total, is a narrow prow of rock with a 360 degree panorama marker. Return the same way.


Public transport:

Buses run regularly to Jozankei Spa 定山渓温泉 from Sapporo Station 札幌駅 or Makomanai Station 真駒内駅 at the end of the Nanboku subway line. Get off at Dai-ichi Hotel 第一ホテル (here) – Google Maps has timetable information. Walk north to the junction with Prefectural Route 1. Cross over and continue on up to the park at the foot of the dam ダム下流園地 in about 30 mins.

By car: 

From Sapporo turn off Route 230 at Jozankei on to Prefectural Route 1 and take the side road north to Jozankei Dam 定山渓ダム. There is a large car park in the park at the foot of the dam, here. If the gate is closed, park at the side of the road before the bridge and walk on up through the park to the trailhead.



Physical maps
GSI 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 each from Kinokuniya bookstore next to Sapporo Station or online (in Japanese).

route safety

There are a few steep sections of trail and in a couple of places the path goes close to steep drops down to the lake. Bears are present in the hills around Jozankei so take the usual precautions.

Weather forecast

Windy.com weather forecast for Kotengu-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 chain (湯の花, location, 850yen). A little way down the road on the way back to Sapporo is the smaller and less fancy Koganeyu (小金湯, location, 800yen).

Extra Resources

In Japanese: Hokkaido Natsuyama Gaido 1, 北海道夏山ガイド 1 道央の山々 (Hokkaido Shimbunsha), pp. 86-89. These guides are updated every few years.

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

Jeff had things to do later in the day, so we looked around for something short and close to Sapporo. This seemed to fit the bill and we hadn’t been before, so we made an early start in order to nip up and back by early afternoon.

We were clearly too early, and out of season to boot. The park gate was closed, so we left the car outside and went around it and up the road into the deserted car park, leaving wet black footprints in the thin covering of fresh snow. Some signs had been wrapped in protective plastic sheeting, and the trailhead postbox was empty.

We started on up the trail. In places it was steep and slippery in the wet snow, but we were able to locate the ropes under the thin covering of snow and pull them out to get a grip and aid upward progress. On the final ridge the sun came out briefly and we could see the lake below us.

The summit itself had a panoramic marker showing nearby peaks and a good view across to the dramatic jagged crags of Jozankei Tengu-dake further west. The rocky prow seemed to remind Jeff of Titanic. The clouds were coming in again though, so we headed back down, sliding down the ropes in places. It enabled a quick descent. In fact, we were back down quickly enough to be soaking in the onsen at Kogane by 10.30am.

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Kotengu-dake Hike 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.