Pooping in the Hokkaido Outdoors

Posted on May 6, 2019
Posted on May 6, 2019
5 4
Poop, poo, the humble Number Twos, unchi (うんち) and unko (うんこ) 💩💩💩 - there's a museum dedicated to the stuff in Yokohama. If you're doing an overnight hike or ski trip in Hokkaido via a mountain hut, you won't have to worry too much about what to do with your poo - huts usually (but not always) have toilets available. But if you're camping along the way, either at a wilderness campsite or in the snow, you may need to pack your poo out with you. In Hokkaido's more trafficked wilderness areas, that's the only sustainable and responsible way to go about it.

Last updated Nov 6, 2020

It’s an idyllic scene. Tents pitched next to the beautiful Nakadake Onsen, about 2.5 hours ski into the heart of the Daisetsuzan National Park, just east of Hokkaido highest peak of Asahidake. We were there during the height of one of Japan’s major public holidays – Golden Week – and there were still only about 10 people camped there. A great way to get away from it all.


Even if this was an official campground however (it is only unofficially permissible to camp here in winter) very few campgrounds in the Daisetsuzan Range have toilets available. They’re certainly not available for use in winter, as the huts that house the toilets are generally buried beneath meters upon meters of snow. So, what to do?

Note in the picture above, someone has walled off a semi-private central spot in the snow as a toilet. This is certainly preferable to all campers finding their own spot and burying their poop in their own holes in the snow. It is not ideal, however, as it is:

  1. Far too close to the stream. The stream near the onsen is actually a natural spring, originating not very far from the onsen itself.
  2. The concentration of waste in that one spot will certainly damage the flora under the snow once the snow is gone.
  3. This hole encourages the disposal of toilet paper into this temporary snow hole too, which will take much longer to decompose than the poop itself.

Here’s a closeup of the poo hole. Better than lots of poo-holes all over the place, but still not ideal. Look close enough (if you dare), and you’ll see toilet paper disposed along with everything else.


One feasible solution to this problem is for hikers and skiers to simply pack out their own human waste. Pooping in a bag and taking it home with you takes some getting used to. However, it is perfectly feasible using the right tools. Outdoor stores in Sapporo sell portable toilets designed for the job. We used the High Mount portable toilets (available on Amazon.co.jp) on our trip to Nakadake Onsen, and they worked a treat.

They’re easy to use – lay the large inner bag down on the ground, poo into it, tie it shut with the supplied string, and then put this inner bag into the thick odor-proof outer bag. The inner bag has an absorbent pad that absorbs and solidifies liquid.

We packed out the bags in our own packs, and they sat in the car for two days before we had a chance to dispose of them in our household burnable trash – we never smelled any untoward odors.

During the peak Daisetsuzan National Park hiking season, there are deposit bins at major trailheads along the Daisetsuzan Range for hikers to dispose of their portable toilets. Outside of these times, portable toilets can be disposed of in any burnable rubbish bins.

Poo bag sizing
At the significant risk of going into far too much detail, please allow me some self-disclosure. On overnight ski trips and hiking trips, I tend to be a once-every-couple-of-days kind of guy when it comes to pooping. Suffice it to say that I tend to require a large bag when the time comes. Scroll down the page, and you’ll see a photo of a black inner bag that we picked up at a local Sapporo outdoor store. I was happy that we’d only brought these as backups – they were laughably small for my needs (am I actually writing this on the Internet?). The High Mount portable toilet packs, however, came with very generous-sized inner bags. All this is to say that you may want to make sure you don’t skimp on the size when deciding on your weapon of choice.

If you’d rather not use all this plastic every time you use the loo and/or need more capacity, consider putting together a Poop Tube. This would do away with having to dispose of the thick, burly plastic outer bags every time. Also, instead having to stuff the plastic bag into your pack, this PVC tube would be easy to strap to the exterior of a pack.


Do you need to use a portable toilet everywhere in Hokkaido when snow camping? Ideally, yes. You packed it in, so you should pack it out. However the main area of concern currently is the Daisetsuzan National Park. This amazing range, only 63km long by 59km wide, gets just under 97,000 hikers a year on its backcountry trails during the summer hiking season (source). With such a concentration of visitors, digging catholes is not an option. In winter, the only realistic option for locations such as Nakadake Onsen is for visitors to pack out their own waste.

In other areas of Hokkaido, particularly in winter, packing out one’s own human waste during a winter camping ski trip may not be as pressing. However, if you’re doing your business in the snow, follow the following common-sense rules.

  1. Where possible, always use a portable toilet of some kind, packing out your own waste with you.
  2. Never, ever dispose of toilet paper in the snow. Even if you leave your poop in the winter hills, toilet paper should always be packed out – no exceptions.
  3. Double-check your location on a topographical map – you may be on snow above a hiking trail.


Also take a look at Adventure Hokkaido’s good overview of using mobile toilet bags, here: https://www.adventure-hokkaido.com/blog/hokkaido-activity/hiking/what-is-a-mobile-toilet-bag/

Comments | Queries | Discussion

4 thoughts on “Pooping in the Hokkaido Outdoors”

  1. hi, thanks for the, er, informative article. so to be clear, the black bag inthe photo above is the inner? and it will stay open by itself when laid on the ground?

    1. Important question! The black bag pictured is actually a different product to the one I’ve linked to. The actual inner bags that we used (that come with the thicker green outer bags pictured) are huge, and lay flat, essentially. The black inner bag pictured, as I said, was a separate product…and it certainly does’t stand on its own. It would be quite the challenge to poop into!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

See More Like this

Download may take some time

Hokkaido Wilds Foundation

We’ve got affiliate links on HokkaidoWilds.org to help fund the Hokkaido Wilds foundation.

The Foundation gets a small commission on sales from affiliate links, but we only link to stuff we think is worth checking out for people keen on the outdoors in Hokkaido and Japan.

The Hokkaido Wilds Foundation is a fund where 100% of funds are donated to Hokkaido volunteer groups involved in sustainable, safe, and responsible access to the Hokkaido outdoors.

Learn more here


Filter by location

About Filters

REGION: The general mountain/geographical region the route is in.

BEST MONTH(S): Time of year a route is suited to visiting. Some pop all season, some are more limited.

DIFFICULTY: How strenuous a route is, and how technical it is. Full details here.

FREERIDE/SKITOUR: Very subjective, but is a route more-of-a-walk-than-a-ski or the other way around? Some routes are all about the screaming downhill (freeride), some are more about the hunt for a peak or nice forest (ski-tour). Some are in between. 

MAIN ASPECT: Which cardinal direction the primary consequential slope is facing, that you might encounter on the route. More details here.

ROUTE TAGS: An eclectic picking of other categories that routes might belong to.

SEARCH BY LOCATION: You can find routes near your current location – just click on the crosshairs (). You may need to give permission to HokkaidoWilds.org to know your GPS location (don’t worry, we won’t track you). Or, type in a destination, such as Niseko or Sapporo or Asahikawa etc.

Please let us know how we can make it easier to narrow down your search. Contact Rob at rob@hokkaidowilds.org with your suggestions.

Pooping in the Hokkaido Outdoors Difficulty Rating





Vertical Gain



Time ascending













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.