Sounkyo is a small onsen town located at the foot of Daisetsuzan national park. During the summer it’s used as a starting point for the various trails running through Hokkaido’s largest national park, while during the winter is a popular destination for the Sounkyo Ice Waterfall village. And now, let’s see together what Sounkyo has to offer.
Sounkyo onsen town
Sounkyo is rather a small village than a town, as it’s really tiny. The main road takes you from the main street to the cable car, passing all the important POIs. There are a few other streets with restaurants, cafes and accommodation, but the majority are closed during the winter.
Sounkyo Visitor Center
A great place to start your visit with is Sounkyo visitor center. Apart from accessing all the necessary information, you can also connect to free internet, have a rest and learn more about Daisetsuzan national park. Lots of useful information are on display, including flora and fauna.
Daisetsuzan Sounkyo Kurodake Ropeway
One activity to do in the area no matter the season, is to take the ropeway to have a splendid view of the national park and the surroundings. While the return ticket is rather expensive, 2400¥ per adult, the view is rewarding enough to forget about the cost.
View from the top
Once you arrive, go up on the roof for a panoramic view. Take your time to breath in the beauty of nature.
Around the ropeway station
Instead of rushing back, have a walk around the ropeway station. The scenery is peaceful and beautiful, especially during the winter, with untouched snow and fewer tourists.
Kurodake-no-yu Public Onsen
If the cold is too hard to handle, have a stop at Kurodake-no-yu public onsen. Open from 10am to 9.30pm, they allow daily visitors in exchange for a 600¥ fee per adult.
Sounkyo Ice Waterfall Festival
And last but not least, the most rewarding part of the visit is the Sounkyo Ice Waterfall Festival. Open between 5-9.30pm, from late January to mid-March, this festival was celebrating its 43rd anniversary in 2023. A true pleasure for the eyes, it’s something not to be missed if you’re in the area.
View by day
During the day the area is closed to the public. However, you can have a walk close to the main street to observe the ice structures. You will be able to observe the natural color of the ice, a beautiful ice blue and green.
View by night
As the night comes, the ice village comes to life. Each building is illuminated in different colors changing every few seconds, creating a spectacle of lights. Go inside each building to discover its unique theme and activities.
Several ice sculptures can be found in the ice buildings. Some are real impressive, as you can even go inside them. So why not trying to fit into a dinosaur mouth or be hugged by a rabbit?
If you wanna have a drink to remember, have a stop at the ice bar. The place is well equipped with tables and chairs, just like in a normal bar.
Inside the ice falls
The buildings are absolutely gorgeous on the inside. Each of them has a different theme and caracter, from icicles, illuminations, something to surprise everyone.
Another interesting activity is to stick a coin on a “lucky cat”. Grab a 5¥, the luckiest of the coins, heat it between your hands and stick it on the ice. Keep it fixed for a few seconds, to allow enough time to properly stick.
If you’re coming with kids, the ice tube are of a great fun. For 500¥, you get 15 minutes of tube slider access.
Coming to Sounkyo by public transportation is easy and accessible. From Kamikawa station there are busses that depart towards Sounkyo starting with 7am, 7.50am, 9.50am, 10.40am, 12.10pm, 1.40pm, 3pm, 4pm, 5.10pm, 6pm, and the last one at 8.05pm. For the way back, the busses start from 6.20am, 7.45am, 8.40am, 10.55am, 11.25am, 1.30pm, 2.25pm, 3.40pm, 5.30pm, 5.55pm, with the last one at 6.40pm only during winter months, between 1st of Dec – 31st of Mar. A one way ticket costs 890¥ and it takes about half an hour.
Well, that’s it from my side. I hope you enjoyed the article and one day you’ll visit Sounkyo and its waterfall village by yourself. Meanwhile, get inspired from more articles across Japan and not only, here.
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