The magnificent peaks of Daisetsuzan National Park, such as Mt. Tomuraushi and the Tokachi and Ishikari mountain ranges are representative landmarks of Hokkaido. The vast mountain belt is covered with colorful alpine plants, and its beautiful landscapes make the park a treat for mountain climbers. The area is referred to by the Ainu people as “Kamui Mintara,” meaning the playground of the gods.
Daisetsuzan National Park, like all of Japan's national parks, has no entrance fees, no opening and closing hours, and a permit is not required to enter or stay in the park. The national parks of Japan differ from national parks worldwide in that the land within the national parks is not exclusively designated for national park use and is made up of private property as well as public and protected areas. Visitors are free to enter and leave at any time.
Daisetsuzan National Park comprises three mountain ranges: the Daisetsuzan volcanic group arranged around the Ohachidaira Caldera; the Mt. Tokachi volcanic group named after its highest peak, Mt. Tokachi (an active volcano); and the Ishikari Mountain Range, which includes the Mt. Shikaribetsu volcanic group near Lake Shikaribetsu.
The stunning forest landscape and colorful alpine flora creates the landscape referred to by the Ainu people as “Kamui Mintara.” In addition, a distinctive topography of high moors spreads across the marshland in the plateau region making a habitat for flora unique to the marshlands and dwarf Japanese spruce.
The Ohachidaira Caldera owes its current shape to a stratovolcanic explosion some 30,000 years ago. Recently, it was revealed that the Tokachi-Mitsumata basin, which has a circumference of over 10 km and is populated by a mixed forest of needleleaf and broadleaf trees, is a caldera that was formed through a volcanic explosion a million years ago.
It is a hot-spring district (1,050 m above sea level) spreading across the foot of Mt. Asahi. Along with the Sounkyo Onsen, it is the mountaineering base in the Omote-Daisetsu area. During the winter, it is one of the popular skiing spots, enjoying the longest ski season in Japan (From November to early May).
Marked by distinct environmental conditions, Mt. Daisetsu boasts a rich biodiversity. The vast forests of Mt. Daisetsu are populated by mammals including brown bears, Yezo sika deer, Ezo red foxes, Yezo stoat and Hokkaido squirrels. There are also birds: including the Blakiston’s fish owl (a special natural monument of Japan), black woodpecker and the rare Eurasian three-toed woodpecker.
Every summer the Sounkyo Onsen Fire Festival is held at Sounkyo Onsen. This festival gives visitors exposure to a traditional Ainu ceremony called the fukuro owl ritual. The Ainu dance along to traditional folk tunes and highlight other aspects of the culture that was handed down by the indigenous inhabitants of Hokkaido through the centuries.