Kamifurano to Asahidake
Distance: 37 miles
Total Distance: 1928 miles

We woke up after a nice night’s sleep in Kamifurano to find a gentle rain coming down–damp, but nowhere near as bad as we had experienced in Honshu. Although rain was in the forecast for the next day or so, we decided to continue on towards the national park as we had read of the beautiful scenery to be found up there. After a quick breakfast, we packed up and started riding up the Furano valley towards Biei and the turnoff towards Daisetsuzan. The morning ride was very nice; we wound through green fields about to burst into bloom (Furano is a popular destination for flower viewing, which means that the farms in the area focus almost exclusively on picturesque fields of flowers). In the late morning we stopped for a break at the “Trick Art” museum and found an amazing field of flowers nearby. Quite a few pictures later, we hopped back on the bikes and headed north to Biei.


Beautiful flowers on the way to Biei


Vicky in the middle of the flower field


Quick break at the Trick Art Museum

Biei was our last real chance to do some shopping for the days ahead–we were unsure what to expect up in the national park, but we had heard that there were not many facilities available for campers, especially during this season. We bought enough for a few meals, hoping that we could find more in Asahidake, and after a brief sidewalk lunch headed up the road again, turning at Kitabei along the 213.

The first 20k were moderately uphill, then we climbed more steeply to get above the dam at Chubetsu Lake. A quite ride along the shore soon gave way to another climb, but this one was not near as easy. 10 miles straight up–never excessively steep, but without any flat stretches to recover; we were very glad to see the small town of Asahidake Onsen at the end of the road!


Riding up to Chubetsu Lake


Along the shore of the lake


Volcanoes ahead!!!

The town itself is very nice, with a small group of onsen hotels that blend in fairly well with the landscape (unlike many onsen towns we have been too, where the garish hotels detract from enjoying the scenery). We found our way to the town campground, and after pitching our tent on a suspiciously wet patch of ground we did a little more shopping at the hostel across the street. The campground had a covered cooking area, so we took advantage of the dry space to cook, brew some hot tea, and read until bedtime. The campground was empty except for one other group, a friendly German family that was doing an early season tour of Hokkaido’s national parks. We chatted for a bit, and then went to bed early, tired out after a long ride uphill. Our only thoughts as we went to sleep was that we hoped the weather would clear up tomorrow so that we could hike up the mountain and explore the heart of Daisetsuzan National Park.