Asahidake and the Kamihoroso Onsen♨

The Asahidake is the tallest mountain in Hokkaido and part of a volcanic group of mountains located in the Daisetsuzan National Park. I didn’t actually know that back then except that it’s a volcano but that’s enough for me so we made a trip to this lovely mountain. As you make your way through the snow and up to the station of the Asahidake rope way at the foot of the mountain it’s difficult to imagine that you’re on an actual volcano because everything is covered in white, but soon you’ll start noticing small steaming rivers on the left and the right side of the road and that’s a pretty cool thing to experience.

At the station there was a shop and some restaurants but it was still early and only a handful of tourists were going skiing. Then my camera’s battery died, so I asked to charge it in the shop. The longer I waited, the more I felt miserable because I really wanted to go skiing but there was no way we could have rented something. Feeling blue and waiting for the camera’s battery to recharge I got some cute stuff at the shop but didn’t feel like going up with the ropeway anymore because my feet were freezing and it was kind of expensive anyway. Kind of stupid I guess.. Instead I promised myself to be back an other time and ride the powdery snow or maybe do some hiking during summer when there’s alpine flowers. Either way must be breathtaking!

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And of course there’s Onsen resorts spread everywhere. I honestly don’t know why there were so few people but the hotels looked empty and snowed in. The small rivers were everywhere, beside the street, around the houses and hotels and the fumes coming up made it look so appealing. The water I could reach from where I stood wasn’t hot but luke-warm. I guess the water that flows superficially cools off pretty fast but what flows underground must be quite hot!

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The baths I take are usually steaming hot and I don’t mind, or in fact I prefer temperatures between 42 °C and 44°C. Onsen providing wooden outdoor baths and high temperatures are my favourite. I don’t care so much about what minerals are in the water, everything is fine for me but I’ve found that hot springs with sulfur make your skin really soft. The color of the water differs remarkably depending on what minerals it contains.
Kamihoroso is an Onsen located in the Tokachigawa hot spring area and pretty close to the Furano ski resort. We had to get there from Sapporo though because the day we stayed in Furano it was closed. If you ask yourself if it’s worth it I would definitely say yes although there are plenty of other options as well.

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The Kamihoroso Onsen is run as a part of a Ryokan with Japanese style rooms but the baths are open also to visitors. What I like so much about this Onsen is the surrounding nature and simple wooden bathing and washing area. I’m not exactly sure what wood it is but most wooden tubs are made of Hinoki, Japanese cypress. It has a distinct scent which I love. There’s also a small but very hot sauna with an ice cold pool. I’ve never fainted in my life but diving into the icy water after the sauna made me see stars. Although slightly scary I somehow enjoy it. You can feel every heart beat and how the blood gets pumped through your vessels. Rosy cheeks and a completely refreshed feeling are nice side effects.

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Japanese style hot springs are probably what I miss most about Japan. We have coffin-shaped tubs or bubbly Jacuzzi baths but the bathing culture and mentality is somewhat different. While in Japan it is considered natural to be naked and soak in the same water with other people and even have conversations with them, bathing is more of a private thing here in Europe. The Romans sure had a great bathing culture but we somehow lost that on our way.
I went to many more Onsen on this trip and I’m excited to share some of them in the following blog posts. Up next however are my Japanese Geta!

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