Moiwa-yama Asahiyama-Jikeikai Loop Hike (Sapporo City)

藻岩山 | Mo-iwa

Posted on Nov 18, 2018
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Posted on Nov 18, 2018

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Reading time: 6 min
5.6km

Distance

3 hours

Time

370m

Ascent

531m

Highest point

2/10

Difficulty

Best season icon (Hokkaido Wilds)
May-Nov

Best season

Moiwa-yama (藻岩山, 531m) is a tall hill to the west of Sapporo City, the sprawling capital of Hokkaido. This route tackles the summit from the longest trail on the way up (Asahiyama Park Trail, 旭山公園コース) and then takes the shorter Jikeikai Hospital route (慈啓会病院コース) on the way down. We've included the walk from Maruyama Subway Station too for a wander through Sapporo's up-market Maruyama neighborhood. The hike offers great views, which attract both hardcore hikers looking for a quick city getaway, as well as first-timers with kids in tow. The summit will be shared with hordes of tourists who take the easy way up via the Moiwa Ropeway but hikers get to enjoy about 3 hours of sustained views of the city on the way up and down.

We visited this route on Nov 18, 2018

Last updated Jun 4, 2020

Route Map

Need to know details

Location

This hike begins at the Asahiyama Memorial Park Trailhead to Mt. Moiwa (here), about 30 minutes walk (3km) south of Maruyama Subway Station on the east side of central Sapporo City. The hike finishes slightly further south, at the Jikeikai Hospital Trailhead (here).

General notes

This route guide assumes hikers will be arriving to the trailhead via public transport. We usually choose to walk from the Maruyama-koen Subway station (on the orange Tozai line), so the route map in this guide includes the walk from the station. This walk from the station is interesting for a couple of reasons. One is that the Maruyama district of Sapporo City is essentially the Beverly Hills of Sapporo. Hillside villas and mansions vie for prime city views and quiet nooks of wooded back yards. This side of Maruyama is the less upperclass area, but it still feels like another world. There are a few cafes along the way to the trailhead too, so come prepared for some serious refreshments along the way.

The hike itself is straight forward, with plenty of ups and downs along the way. The track can sometimes get quite muddy after rain. During the summer months on weekends, the trails get pretty busy. You’ll be sharing the trail with the rest of Sapporo city’s outdoor lovers. It is a popular place for a night hike, with some of the best Sapporo night views in Hokkaido. At the Moiwa-yama summit is the ropeway top station with a restaurant, toilets, water, vending machines, and a large viewing platform on the roof (accessible year-round).

Hut

None

Route

The route is well defined and signposted, but most of the signs are in Japanese.

Route Timing
Up | 2hrs
Down | 1hrs

At a very leisurely pace, including a short stop for lunch, we took 2 hours from the Asahiyama Park trailhead to the summit. It took 1 hour from the summit down to the Jikeikai Hospital trailhead. Both trailheads are within about 30 minutes walk of Maruyama-koen subway station.

Transport

Public transport:

Both trailheads mentioned in this route are within a brisk 30 minute walk (3km) of Maruyama-koen subway station on the orange Tozai Line (東西線円山公園駅, here), so if we’re visiting by public transport, we usually just walk to the trailhead. There are, however, bus stops at both trailheads. To and from Maruyama Subway station, the trip will take about 15-20 minutes (not including waiting time). For the start of the route, catch the Maru13 (円13) bus from the Maruyama Bus Terminal to Asahiyama Koen Mae bus stop (here) at the entrance of Asahiyama Memorial Park (旭山記念公園) (route here). On the return from Jikeikai Hospital Traihead, catch either the Maru11 (円11) or Junkan11 (循環11) bus bound for the bus terminal from the Megumikeikai bus stop (here | route here).

By car: 

There is plenty of free parking at both trailheads.

Physical maps
Official Topo Map: Sapporo (札幌) – map no. NK-54-14-10-4

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 route is relatively easy and safe, considering its proximity to the city and foot traffic. The trail can be quite muddy after rain or during the shoulder seasons after snow. Good boots are recommended. Also always be prepared for rain and cold (waterproof jacket and fleece), regardless of the weather forecast. Signs warning of bear sightings are posted at the trailheads.

Weather forecast

Windy.com weather forecast for Moiwa-yama

Onsen nearby

The nearest spot for a post-hike soak is Fushimi Onsen (伏美温泉, here), a sento-like public baths. They’re open from 2pm till 9:30pm every day except for Mondays and every first and third Friday of the month.

Extra Resources

Jikeikai Hospital Route

  • Trail report by Ahnate here.
  • Stephen Askew’s report here.

Show Full Route Notes Close Route Notes

Route Trip Notes

With Sapporo City’s annual first-snow still not here (two days shy of the latest in recorded history), Haidee and I decided to take a leisurely hike up Mt. Moiwa. It was Sunday, and we’d nothing better to do. Plus, for us living near Shin-Sapporo Station, we only had one subway train to catch, we we’d be in the ritzy area of Maruyama to start the hike.

It always feels like a different world stepping out of the subway into the upmarket Maruyama Class shopping mall. This is where the well-to-do seem to congregate in Sapporo. This was reflected in the prices at the bakery. But, their dried tomato, basil and spinach freshly baked rolls were to die for (if you didn’t choke on the 450yen price tag to start with).

Once away from the tempting goodies in the mall, we started our brisk walk to the trailhead. First along the noisy Route 230 for a bit, and then onto quiet side streets. Beautiful sprawling residences had done their winter garden preparation and were clearly waiting for the snow to come.

It was chilly when we set off, but by the time we’d arrived at the trailhead, we were stipping off layers. The climb starts in earnest from the Asahiyama Park trailhead, up a dirt track. We met a number of trailrunners along the climb up – it seems like a popular spot, close to the city. At this point, we had signs pointing us in the right direction with English on them. The remainder of the route would only have Japanese signs.

The trail climbs to a ridgeline and then follows this all the way to the summit of Mt. Moiwa. The peak always seems tantalizingly close, almost within reach. Each rise in the ridge seems like a false summit, only to drop down again for another climb up. Part way along the ridge, however, before getting to the Jikeikai Hospital Track junction, is a clearing with great views across the city. From there to the junction is a few more ups and downs.

From the Jikeikai Hospital Track junction, the trail becomes even more well defined and well-used. When we were there in mid November, there had been some snow in the previous few days which had melted, leaving the track with about 7cm of soft mud on the surface of the track. Below this was hard-packed soil. After about 20 minutes of stomping through mud, we started the final rocky (and dry!) zig-zag climb up to the summit.

At the summit of Mt. Moiwa is a beautiful cable-car building with restaurant, toilets, boot-washing area, rest area for hikers, and vending machines. We happened to be there during their annual between-season closure (early to mid-November), so only the ground floor hiker’s area was open. The rooftop viewing area was open to the public, however. Up a couple of flights of stars, we had one of the best views of Sapporo I’ve ever seen. Really quite impressive.

To the west, the mountain ridge extending from Mt. Eniwa all the way to Mt. Sapporo was visible, but shrouded somewhat by menacing looking clouds. The whole environment felt like it was just waiting for the winter’s snow to come.

While it was only 2pm, the clouds to the west were shielding the sun, so it was feeling much darker and later than it actually was. Nonetheless, we decided to hurry back down and try to get to a cafe for a coffee before 3pm. This proved perfectly doable, as we returned via the shorter, less circuitous Jikeikai Hospital Track. We had been warned that this track was particularly muddy, and it was to a certain extent. Sneakers or even trail-running shoes would have been hard going with the track in this condition.

Part way down the trail was a foundation of the first ever ski lift in Japan. The lift was built in 1946, but removed in 1959 in order to protect the natural environment. 

Not long after this curiosity, we arrived at the trailhead. We made a dash to the nearest cafe, and ended up at Cafe Vanilla (here). You wouldn’t know it from the name, but the entire cafe is a semi-tropical tree store. The cake set was reasonable (800yen for a slice of cheesecake and cafe latte).

We took a windy pedestrian-friendly route back to the station. This involved stairs, back streets, and gravel side roads. It was quite the shock to arrive back at the flashy upmarket Maruyama Class department store.

To finish the day off, Haidee took me to the Sapporo Beer Cellar (here, near Nishi 11-chome subway station). She had been introduced to it by some colleagues the night before. It’s main offering is craft beer, mainly from Oregon, it seems. They also have a few local craft beers on tap. The great thing was that we got home by 5pm. A great way to spend a day out in Sapporo, having left home at 10:30am. A very cruisey Sunday in the city.

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Comments | Queries | Reports

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