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Take in the joys of the Sounkyo Valley, rich with sightseeing opportunities, to your heart’s content
The valley is home to two of Japan’s one hundred most famous waterfalls, “Ginga-no-taki” (Galaxy Waterfall) and “Ryusei-no-taki” (Meteor Waterfall). You can also visit “Oobako” and “Kobako”, two points where the valley creates an almost boxed-in experience.The area is also blessed with the beauties of “Shinsaku-heki”, a sheer cliffside.
A ride from Sounkyo Valley up the ropeway and lift to the seventh station leads to an observatory and a lush meadow of flowers.During the fall months, visitors are also greeted by a marvelous blaze of autumnal foliage at the Daisetsu Kogen Hot Springs and Ginsendai.
Sightseeing in the Sounkyo Valley
- Sounkyo Hot Spring Ice Waterfall Festival
- This festival is held for around two months each year, between late January and late March. The festival’s fireworks, cascading in the winter sky, lead you into a world of surreal wonder. Many events are planned to take place at the Ice Waterfall Festival grounds, where a lively atmosphere is guaranteed. Be sure to fully enjoy this beautiful world where ice and light collide.
- Approx. 5 minute walk from the hotel
- The Galaxy/Shooting Star Waterfalls
- The twin waterfalls of “Ginga-no-taki” and “Ryusei-no-taki” are members of Japan’s prestigious list of a hundred famous waterfalls. They are often called “Meoto-daki”, or “husband-and-wife waterfalls.” Facing the falls, on the left is “Ginga-no-taki”, the wife of the pair, with graceful star-like trails of water crashing down from a height of 120m. On the right is “Ryusei-no-taki”, the husband, where water thunders down from a height of 90m.
- Approx. 3 minute drive from the hotel
- “Ginsendai” derives its name from its role as the source of water for the “Ginga-no-taki” waterfall. Ginsendai is well-known across Japan for its autumn foliage, and is visited by a great many sightseers each year. However, during the peak autumn season, limits have been placed on driving cars to the area in order to help preserve the natural surroundings; and visitors take a shuttle bus to the site.
- Approx. 45 minute drive from the hotel
- Daisetsu Kogen Hot Springs
- Aside from being a jump-off spot for traversing Mount Midori and Mount Hakuun, it is the starting point for the famous Daisetsu Kogen Onsen Hiking Tour and shares similar fame to Ginsen-dai in the autumn months. One full circuit of the Kogen Onsen hiking course covers approximately 7km; however, it overlaps with areas inhabited by brown bears, so being able to complete the entire circuit may not be possible.
- Approx. 5 minute walk from the hotel
- Sounkyo Fire Festival
- This event is held each year on the last Saturday of July. More than a century ago, the Iomante ceremony would send off an island owl of the highest quality to their protector god, called Kotan Koro Kamui. The ceremony lasted a number of days, and portions of it have been incorporated into this Sounkyo Fire Festival, it is an unusual event in Japan. The festival features the wonders of Ainu traditional dance styles, taiko drumming, and a crescendo of fire that lights the backdrop of the valley.
- Approx. 10 minute walk from the hotel
- Daisetsu Mori-no Garden
- Nestled between the Daisetsuzan range and the Niseikaushuppe forest in Daisetsu Kogen Asahigaoka, the Daisetsu Forest Garden is a well-known, sprawling pastoral vista. Though based on English gardens, it retains a splendor in keeping with the climate and blue skies of Hokkaido.
- Approx. 40 minute drive from the hotel
Sightseeing Outside of the Sounkyo Valley
- Asahiyama Zoo
- The northernmost zoo in Japan, the Asahiyama Zoo employs a wide range of ingenious techniques to show you its animal inhabitants, which has made it a standard-bearer amongst Hokkaido zoos even today. The zoo also provides a full range of heart-warming activities, such as “Mogumogu Time” where through feeding the animals visitors can see the animals in their natural state.
- Takinoue Shibazakura Park
- During the blooming season (May-Jun), a carpet of cherry blossom paints the town of Takinoue as the flowers blossom across a hillside of around 10,000 square meters. Visitors may also experience its beauty by viewing it from a helicopter during this season. Takinoue Park has also earned fame for providing the backdrop for “Hadaka no Taisho” (Naked Artist), a popular dramatic series from the 80s and 90s.
- Yubetsu Tulip Park
- More than a million colorful tulips of 120 different varieties delight visitors in this massive 17-acre plot in the town of Yubetsu (in bloom May-Jun). The area also features shops providing tulips and tulip-related goods, as well as the opportunity to rent traditional clothing from the Netherlands, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the flavor of Holland.
- Shiretoko National Park, a World Heritage Site
- We recommend a guided tour in order to fully experience the beauty of Shiretoko, in the town of Shari. The Shiretoko Goko Five Lakes are excellent sightseeing locations for a relaxed encounter with the bountiful flora and fauna of Shiretoko. Also there are the “Five Waterfall Sights of Shiretoko” that include Oshinkoshin Falls. During the winter months, visitors can enjoy tours that include animal watching, walking along ice drifts and other activities.
- Asahikawa Society of Ramen
- A group of artisan ramen chefs gathered in August of 1996, bringing together their own unique skills, such as keeping soups from cooling despite temperatures more than thirty degrees below freezing as well as matching the tastes of the people of Hokkaido, known for loving strongly seasoned cuisine. The result of their efforts was the birth of the “Asahikawa Ramen Village”.This has now grown to around three hundred ramen shops, including a number of veteran establishments, to comprise Asahikawa’s Ramen Alley.
- Ukishima Shitsugen Wetlands
- The Ukishima, or “Floating Island” marshes sits at a height of 860 to 870 meters above sea level, dotted with more than seventy marshes large and small. Many of these have, as the name suggests, islands floating among them. This location is inhabited by a large number of wild birds, allowing visitors to listen to the warbling birdcalls as they enjoy a walk along the paths. This is a highly recommended spot for lovers of the woodlands.
Sounkyo Valley-related Websites
- Tourism Association of Sounkyo
This site provides information about events and experiences available to those visiting the Sounkyo Valley. The visually-stunning website is a must-see for visitors looking to learn more about the scenery and layout of Sounkyo Valley.
- Sounkyo Visitor Center
This site provides information about the Sounkyo Valley, including up-to-date information about the mountains in the area, climbing, and sightseeing. The Visitor Center Report is a journal about the day-to-day state of the mountains; anyone looking to climb should certainly give it a look.