|NATIONAL PARKS QUICKLINKS|
Backpacker Magazine – November 2013
Can you really find true wilderness in the most civilized country on Earth?
Get there Fly to Sapporo via Tokyo or Osaka ($800-1300 from Seattle, San Francisco, or Los Angeles during high season, June-September). From Sapporo’s New Chitose Airport, catch the Super Kamui #43 to Asahikawa ($54, http://www.hyperdia.com/). From Asahikawa Train Station, ride the shuttle bus to Asahidake Onsen (website TK, five buses a day, $10). Asahidake Ropeway is at the end of the road 1/4 mile from the onsen ($16 one-way, http://wakasaresort.com/eng/).
Huts/Camping Frontcountry camping at traverse endpoints is available the base of Asahidake and Tokachi ($5). Kurodake hut spots ($17) fill up fast on weekend afternoons; camping spots ($5) do not. Same at Hakuun ($10 hut; $5 tent site). Chubetsu, Hisago, Biei-Fuji, and Tokachi huts, as well as Uraasahi, Futagonuma, and Minaminuma tent sites, are all free.
Hotel/Onsen Asahikawa Grand Hotel (from $160, asahikawa-grand.com/eng/). Shirakabaso Youth Hostel is 400 meters from Asahidake ropeway and offers private and dorm-style rooms, including onsen facilities ($35-59, http://park19.wakwak.com/~shirakaba/home2.html). Kogen Onsen ($63, includes traditional dinner and breakfast; http://www.daisetsu-kogen.com/default.htm [site in Japanese])
Season July to August for better weather and flowers, but more visitors. September showcases incredible fall foliage and wildlife activity, but more temperamental weather. Snow typically melts off trails by mid-July; it returns the last week of September.
Gear Daisetsuzan’s capricious and sometimes violent weather necessitates bombproof raingear and tents. Bring crampons and an ice axe in June/early July. Fog can strike anytime—know how to navigate with map and compass. Gear up at the Montbell store in Higashikawa (on the way to Asahidake, -2-2, Higashimachi, Kamikawa-gun, Higashikawa-cho, Hokkaido) and 7-11 (do not leave without eating chicken katsu from the hot case).
Guide Michiko Aoki ($150/day; firstname.lastname@example.org)
Info Daisetsuzan National Park: bit.ly/DaisetNP Don't speak Japanese? Contact the Japan National Tourism Organization for planning, logistics, and travel advice. http://www.jnto.go.jp/
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