Okuteine Yama-no-Ie Hut
Last updated Mar 4, 2019
The Okuteine Yama-no-Ie (literally “mountain house”) hut was built in 1930 during the early skiing boom era in Japan by the National Railway Department to facilitate ski touring in and around the Zenibako area. It was built in cooperation with professors at Hokkaido University. The idea was that if the railway department built a dedicated ski touring hut in the hills near Zenibako Station, then that would boost the department’s profits, since skiers would flock to the area by train (see more detailed history on the 3-day traverse route here). The hut is now owned by Hokkaido University, and managed by the Hokkaido University Wandervogel Student Club.
The hut is not officially open in summer, but its not locked, and club members visit every couple of weeks. There aren’t any hiking trails to any of the summits surrounding the hut that start at the hut.
In principle, overnight stays must be pre-booked and paid up at Hokkaido University. Either call 011-706-7533 directly to book, or if your Japanese is rusty, then head straight to the No. 3 window on the ground floor at the Institute for the Advancement of Higher Education at Hokkaido University to book and pay (location on Google maps).
80yen per person per night (yes, 80yen – that’s not a typo).
Heating: Coal stove. The hut is heated with a roaring coal stove, with copious amounts of coal available for use. Newspaper for starting the fire is also supplied. Use copious amounts of newspaper, rolled tightly, to light the coal (i.e., fill the stove 2/3 with paper, and put some coal on top). Make sure the stove has been thoroughly cleared of ash inside before lighting. The coal stove can bring a large kettle of water to boil in about 20 minutes. In the unlikely event that you find there’s no coal in the buckets next to the stove, you can access the basement via a door and trapdoor from the kitchen area (on your immediate right after entering the kitchen).
Water: The hut has running water in the kitchen, flowing 24/7 in winter to avoid freezing the pipes. The water source is a creek near the hut, so please boil before consuming.
Kitchen/cooking: There is a separated kitchen area with a full array of utensils, pots and pans. There are no cooking facilities apart from the coal stove, so you’ll need your own gas/portable cooker if you want to heat things quickly.
Bedding: The hut has a limited number of old mattresses and blankets, but you may want to bring your own sleeping bag and mat. In particular on the weekends it is first in first served on the bedding.
Elecricity: There are solar panels and an inverter which power a couple of LED lights inside the hut, however sunny days can be few and far between, so the batteries may not be charged very full. Better to assume no electricity in the hut.
Toilets: There are basic long-drops in the hut, accessed from the entrance area.
Cell reception: No reception (Docomo, AU, and Softbank tested).
On the weekends, Hokkaido University Wandervogel club members, from the club that manages the hut, are often at the hut from late morning on Saturday to early morning on Sunday. On weekdays there is no manager at the hut but it is unlocked and can be used.
Boots can be worn inside the hut on the ground floor in winter, but the upper two floors are socks only. Please make sure to clean/sweep up after use, and clear the stove of any ash before you leave. Like most huts in Hokkaido, Okuteine Hut is maintained 100% through passionate, volunteer time and effort. Always leave a hut cleaner than you found it.
Okuteine Yama-no-Ie Hut Photo Gallery
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