Snowshoeing near Hoheikyo Onsen (Jozankei)

札幌岳登山道

Posted on Mar 7, 2014
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Posted on Mar 7, 2014

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Reading time: 3 min

6km

Distance

2.5hrs

Time

245m

Ascent

700m

Highest point

3/10

Difficulty

Best season icon (Hokkaido Wilds)
Jan-Mar

Best season

This is a really short and straight-forward snowshoe hike part way up the Mt. Sapporo summer trail. It veers off the trail at a forestry road junction, and heads up to a clear-cut section of forest. By climbing up the shallow slope to the top of this large clearing, you'll have expansive views across to Mt. Sapporo. Perfect for a picnic in the snow.

Last updated Jul 13, 2021

Route Map

Need to know details

Location

This route is located above Jozankei, about 30km southwest of Sapporo City center, here.

General notes

This is a great route for beginners on snowshoes. There’s enough semi-defined trail to keep things relatively safe, and then some big wide open snowfield to practice some off-trail wandering.

Route Timing
Up | 1hrs
Down | 0.45hrs
Route

Beyond the turnoff here, this route it not marked at all.

Transport

Public transport:

Getting to the trailhead is fairly straight forward (so long as you don’t mind the 3.5km walk to the trailhead) by public transport. Take the Nanboku Subway Line all the way to the final station, Makomanai Subway Station. From there, catch a bus to Hoheikyo Onsen (hot springs). If you time it right, you can catch a free bus all the way to Hoheikyo Onsen. The free bus leaves Makomanai Subway Station at 10am each day, and takes 45 minutes (https://www.hoheikyo.co.jp/en/access/index_e.html). The bus leaves about 100m down the road from the station (42.990827,141.356258).

By car: 

There is ample parking along the side of the road near the Mt. Sapporo trailhead (here).

Hut(s)

None

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

Notify the police of your backcountry plans online using Compass – instructions here.

Weather forecast

Windy.com weather forecast for Mt. Sapporo Trail

Onsen nearby

Hoheikyo Onsen (1,000yen per person), one of the best in Hokkaido with a massive outdoor bathing area, is only 2.5km away (here). They also have a good food court with Indian curry and soba.

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

Sometimes we forget how majestic the nature is here in Sapporo, so close to home. Within a 40 minute drive, a prepared individual can enjoy some impressive hills, made all the more beautiful by the annual winter snows.

So I organized a short snowshoe trip for the local Hokkaido International Outdoor Club. We have a Facebook group with 80 registered members, around 20 or so of which are active. Six of us ventured out a few weekends ago to explore a perfect spot for snowshoeing: the area surrounding Hoheikyo Onsen (hot springs). The idea was simple. Meet at the hot springs, go for a showshoe hike along the Hiyamizu-sawa track (heading towards Sapporo-dake), return to the hot springs, have Indian curry (there is an Indian curry restaurant at the hot springs), have a soak in the hot springs, go home.

Two of us decided to cycle from Sapporo to the meeting spot. The distance is around  25km. For some reason I thought it would take us an hour and a half. It took us almost three. The going is slow in winter…

Cycling from Sapporo to Jozankei in the winter (Hokkaido, Japan)

The other four, traveling by car, arrived on time at the official meeting time. On the bikes, we were a solid 45 minutes late. No time to dilly-dally, on with the snowshoes.

Top Tip: Showshoes can be hired for only 800yen for an entire weekend from the Nakajima Park Fitness Center (中島公園体育センター). The 800yen is for one 24-hour period, but since the center is not open on the weekends, Friday pick-up and Monday drop-off is considered ‘one 24 our period’.

We started hiking from the start of the Hiyamizu-sawa track, which climbs all the way to the top of Sapporo-dake. We would only hike part of the way, have lunch, and head back. The track follows a small stream, only sometimes visible under large mushrooms of snow. The snow was fairly well packed down on the track; this is a popular spot for outdoor types.

Once we veered off the track onto a forest road, the snow was fresh; without snowshoes this would be hard going. Rick, the most experienced outdoors-person in the group, had previously scouted out a nice place for lunch on his topographical maps. This required a hike up a small rise in the landscape through deep powder. His keen eye for interesting contour lines was spot on: lunch was at the top of an amazing clearing, overlooking the hills in the distance.

Wrapped up against the cold, we lasted about 30 minutes soaking up the view and warm cups of soup. We carried on after lunch with full bellies and keen to get back down for a soak in the hot springs.

We arrived back at the hot springs at around 4pm. First a soak, then food. Hoheikyo onsen is a natural hotspring, well known for its outdoor baths. In winter this place is magical.

The bike home was amazing, as it always is from Jozankei. It is more or less all downhill to Sapporo. This was the first time I had done the return trip at night, in a blizzard. At least the blizzard was at our backs for the most part. Screaming down a dark rural road with only bicycle headlights to illuminate great chunks of ice was exhilarating. At least I had a decent dynamo-powered headlight (the amazing Busch and Mueller Lumotec IQ Cyo). Michael only had a head torch…

All in all a long, rewarding day outside.

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Snowshoeing near Hoheikyo Onsen (Jozankei) Difficulty Rating

Category

Grade

Points

Strenuousness

Vertical Gain

D

25

Time ascending

D

0

Technicality

Altitude

C

3

Hazards

D

Navigation

D

Totals

28/100

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.