Located in Hokkaido, Japan, Daisetsuzan National Park has so much to offer. This mountainous area with its diverse nature provides breathtaking panorama and unforgettable experience.
Where it is
Literally means “Great Snowy Mountain”, Daisetsuzan is located in the centre of Hokkaido, an island in northern part of Japan. It lies on a mountainous part of the island known as “Roof of Hokkaido”. Covering an area of 2,267.64 square kilometers, this national park is the largest in Japan.
The mountain is the main attraction in Daisetsuzan. There are three volcanic groups with 26 peaks over 2000 meters. The tallest one is Mount Asahithat lies in the northern part of the park. These considerably extensive ice-covered peaks offer one of the most beautiful scenery in Japan and the world.
The volcanoes are still active and sometimes the smoke still fume out of the vents. One caldera in the middle of the park that still produces poisonous gases is Ohachi-daira. Visitors with asthma or heart disease should not get to close to this two kilometer-wide caldera.
Several hot spring resorts such as Sounkyo Onsen can be found on the far north of the park. Other famous hot spring water in the area is Kogen Onsen and Aizankei. To the south, there is a popular ski resort. The park is also the place of some of the most striking rock formations and waterfalls such as the Ginga and Ryusei waterfalls. Scenic Ishikarigawa River and lovely Lake Shikaribetsu complete the picturesque character of the site.
The whole park is covered with subarctic forest. The vegetation mainly consists of broad-leaves trees and coniferous. Almost 200 species of alpine and swamps plant can be found in higher altitude alongside rocky field and grassland. The alpine flowers bloom from July to August. This provides the park its breathtaking scenery.
Ezo higuma or Hokkaido Brown Bears often wander in the park. They usually will not attack visitors but it would be wise to always walk ingroups. As a precautionary measure, visitors are advised not to hike at dusk or dawn, not to make too much noise and not to keep any food near the tent.
Besides the bear, Siberian chipmunk, Hokkaido fox, Eurosian red squirrel, some rare species of insects and alpine butterflies are also making their home in the park. After the Hokkaido wolves became extinct in the 19th century, the most famous animal in the park is the Northern Pika. It is a relict species from the ice age that now is in endangered status.
Dangerous bacteria of Echinococcus found in streams and lakes in Daisetsuzan may cause fatal symptoms on human after many years, thus it is advised not to drink from the river or lake.
Best season to visit the park
Each season is strikingly different and each provides different experience. Spring is the best time to observe wildlife and enjoy the scene of wild flowers, but the weather might be cloudy or rainy. The rain will stop during the summer but the park will be very much crowded with visitors. Only in summer, hiking without special gear is possible.
The forest will provide brilliant reddish color during autumn and the first falling snow in September can make the peaks more beautiful. The winter scenery which last for six months is amazingly beautiful but the condition may be harsh for visitors. Low temperature and high pile of snow will make it difficult to explore the park. Extra caution needs to be taken when visiting this park in winter or spring as several major avalanches occur every year during these seasons.