Last updated Nov 28, 2018
The Mt. Muroran Hakucho Hut is located about 15 minutes walk from the Muroran Danpara Ski Area carpark (location on Google Maps). This is about 8km north of central Muroran City, in southern Hokkaido.
The present Hakucho Hut (hakucho means ‘swan’) was built in 1949 (completed on the 6th November 1949). Previous to the present hut being built, there was an earlier hut on the same site. It was built in 1931, but was destroyed by a fire in 1945. According to locals in the area, the original hut was two stories, with a floor area of 6 by 8 meters on each floor (source). The present hut is similar in size, and will sleep 50 people in a pinch (30 comfortably). The hut is currently funded and managed by the Muroran Amateur Sports Association (室蘭市体育協会), but this arrangement will end at the end of March 2021. Unless there is some other arrangement made, the hut is slated for demolition after this date. The current hutkeeper has lived at the hut for the past 20 years. He’s 78 years old, and will retire at the end of March 2021.
There is no need to book.
The hut is free for overnight stays.
Heating: The hut is heated with an old Made in Muroran coke stove that is run on coal. The stove will happily bring 3 liters of water to a rolling boil in about 20 minutes when fully heated. Coal is provided, as are fire starters (white birch bark) and wood kindling. The hutkeeper generally leaves guests to their own devices, but asked us not to put more than five or so shovels of coal on the fire at one go. “The whole flue can end up red hot, from the stove all the way to the wall, and that can be disconcerting,” he explained. “Just keep the stove stoked enough that the flue is red hot up to here,” he said, indicating about 1.5m above the stove, “and you’ll be fine.” The stove is relatively easy to get going, so long as the ash is cleaned out before lighting. There’s a little knob on the right hand side of the base of the stove – work this back and forward vigorously to clear ash during use.
Water: Water running inside the hut and outside from the always-running pipe does not need to be treated. It comes from a spring further up the trail, but is filtered and treated inside the hut before being piped to the taps. Leave the tap in the kitchen running in winter in order to avoid pipes freezing.
Kitchen/cooking: There is a cramped kitchen with a sink and running water. All cutlery and supplies in the kitchen are property of the hutkeeper, so guests must bring all their own cooking and eating equipment. There are no gas burners or other stoves except for the coal stove. Do not rely on the coal stove to be available for your own party to use – best to bring your own stove just in case.
Bedding: There is some limited bedding available on a first-in first-served basis. This includes some pillows and blankets, enough for about 10 people. The hut gets very cold once the stove is not running, so make sure to bring a warm sleeping bag. On the ground floor there is space for about 10 people to sleep side-by-side on two sleeping platforms. On the second floor there is also space to sleep, but you’ll be sharing head-room with the hut’s rafters.
Elecricity: There is no electricity in the hut for guest use. There is also no lighting.
Toilets: Relatively new, male and female long-drop toilets are provided outside the hut in their own out-house.
Cell reception: There is mobile reception (Docomo tested).
There is a year-round hutkeeper in the hut. He is a talkative chap who generally leaves guests to their own devices. He is very helpful, however, and will happily assist with lighting the fire and answering questions (in Japanese).
Special Hakucho Hütte Hut Notes
White the Hakucho Hut is, on paper, funded and maintained by the Muroran City Amateur Sports Association, the people who actually do the day-to-day maintenance are volunteers. If you make a visit, please give the place a clean upon leaving, and make sure to sign the guest book in the trailhead logbook outside the hut – funding decisions are made based on usage. Always leave a hut cleaner than you found it.
Hakucho Hütte Hut Trip reports
Hakucho Hütte Hut Photo Gallery
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