Driving Daisetsuzan National Park & Visit to Daisetsu Asahigaoka Mori no Garden (Hokkaido, Japan)

Coming from Singapore, we are not particularly used to making long drives.  Unless we have a habit of driving up to Malaysia.  But otherwise, we seldom spend more than an hour to drive to anywhere.  (Unless there are traffic jams, that’s besides the point.)

When it comes to taking road trips overseas, long drives are something we need to get, well, acclimatised to.  So to me, knowing where to take breaks during our drives is important.

And taking a break shouldn’t be just a jump-out-of-the-car visit to the loo at a convenience store.  When desperate, yes we do that.  But what I’m talking about is maximising our time by looking for rest points that are actually good for sightseeing.  And Japan is one country that is SO good at building rest points that are actually great for an hour of sightseeing (add in another hour for dining if you’re there at meal times).

So in our ‘Off the Beaten Track – Japan!‘ mini series, I have tried to uncover as many places that are usually off the tourist radar which you can use to fill in the gaps during your long drives.  And in this post, I’m going to share more about Daisetsu Asahigaoka, located at Daisetsuzan National Park in Hokkaido.

Driving Daisetsuzan National Park

Daisetsuzan National Park is most famous for two of its onsen towns: Sounkyo onsen town and Asahidake onsen town.  Sounkyo is the more popular between the two, as it lies very conveniently along the route from Asahikawa (Hokkaido’s second largest city) to the rest of Eastern Hokkaido.

Most tourists will make stop at Sounkyo’s Kurodake Ropeway and the waterfalls of Ginga and Meteor.  For the snow-deprived, there is the Hokkaido Ice Pavilion in Kamikawa.

But if you are looking for a rest stop that is more peaceful, less touristy, and complete with a gorgeous restaurant, then you should head to Dasietsu Asahigaoka.

Daisetsu Asahigaoka

‘Daisetsuzan’ means ‘Big Snow Mountain’ literally.  Daisetsu Asahigaoka is located on a plateau that offers a view of the surrounding mountains of Daisetsuzan National Park.   IF the weather is good.

But I’ve mentioned at least 10 times how horrible the weather was during our Hokkaido trips in June.  So when we arrived at the parking lot, all we saw were thick clouds.  But later on a small gap between the clouds appeared to give us a glimpse of the mountains.  Imagine if all the cloud was gone!

It was raining when we arrived, and we were pleasantly surprised to find that umbrellas were provided at the carpark! So we grabbed a couple of umbrellas and made our way up to the garden.

On our way up, we were greet by some tulips lining the walkway.  I was quite surprised to see tulips as I always thought June was too late for tulip season in Hokkaido.  Different flowers bloom at Daisetsu Asahigaoka during the year.  And in winter it is probably all covered in snow.

We arrived at the wooden lodges which housed a cafe and souvenir shop.  And right outside the lodges, were saw planters filled with beautiful tulips!

And if you continue to walk up, there was a restaurant called Fratello di Mikuni.   We didn’t visit during our visit as we were there right after lunch at Asahikawa, but I made a mental note to go try it the next time I’m in the region!

Daisetsu Mori no Garden

While it was free to roam around the plateau, there was a garden called “Daisetsu Mori no Garden” that required an admission fee.  It cost 800 yen per adult to enter when we were there.  Children of middle school age and below could enter free.

Since the rest of my travel group wasn’t too keen to go walk in the garden on this rainy day, preferring to just chill out at the cafe,  only hubby and I went in to have a look.

The garden wasn’t very big, unlike Manabe Garden in Obihiro or Yuni Garden near Chitose / Yubari.   But it was pretty well-maintained.

There were benches around the garden for you to sit around, relax and smell the flowers.

There were tables overlooking the garden for you to have a quick snack while gazing out at the peaceful scenery.

As I mentioned, you would be greeted with different flowers if you visit at different times of the year.  Daisetsu Asahigaoka does a pretty good job of updating their Facebook Page, so you can see from that what flowers to expect at different times of the year.







Winter (Nov – April):


Address: 〒078-1721  北海道上川郡上川町菊水841の8

Map: Click here for Google map location

Map Code (what is this?): 623 459 391

Tel: 01658-2-4655

Opening Hours:

  • 29 April – 12 May:  0930 – 1730 (last admission 1700)
  • 13 May – 10 September:  0900 – 1800 (last admission 1700)
  • 11 September – 15 October: 0900 -1700 (last admission 1600)

Official Website: Homepage | Facebook Page | Twitter

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Get off the beaten track in Japan

This post is part of my ‘Japan Off-the-Beaten Track‘ series, where I feature some of my favourite spots in Japan that are less commonly visited by tourists!

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  • Hoong says:

    I’m so appreciative of your informative blog! We r a group of 4 ladies celebrating our 60th birthdays by doing a Hokkaido self drive for 12 days this Oct.

  • Shirlene says:

    Chanced upon ur blog while doing my yearly research for my Japan trip. Is always nice to see fellow singaporean that love to travel to Japan too.Awesome effort in providing all the info. I always feel like sharing too but I am too lazy to maintain a blog. 🙂
    Ur hard-work is well appreciated!

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Hahaha… I’m more lazy to keep answering the same questions from my friends about Japan! Don’t you get that from your friends all the time too? If you go every year, I’m sure you friends will be like, “Eh, can send me your itinerary for Japan?” or “Where should I stay / visit when I go Japan?” when they want to go there? lol… But yah lah, hard work to maintain a blog. It’s good memories to keep though. Coz before I started blogging, whenever my friends asked me something, half the time I’m like, “Ermm, I forgot already.”

      • Shirlene says:

        Hahaa.. Yes, alway get the same questions from them over and over again. Usually i will tell them based on my memories, but most friends prefer to “do it all” when in Japan. Like must chiong from Tokyo to Osaka (kyoto, nara). recently, i will tell them to visit ur blog! cos gt alot of information.
        I tried self drive for the very first time this year for my honeymoon after reading ur blog regarding the map code. e self drive was really fun. 🙂 Looking forward for your next adventure in Japan, especially e summer holiday. I tend to give summer a miss…

        • bumblebeemum says:

          Hahaha.. I know what you mean by ‘do it all’. I used to be a ‘do it all’ person myself, but nowadays I’m more chill.

          Thank you for introducing your friends to my blog! Having readers keeps me motivated to keep blogging.. Hahaha…

          Glad you enjoyed the self drive. I love driving in Japan. Summer is indeed the most boring season for us Singaporeans… But now with the kids, summer means a lot less luggage and laundry, so I don’t mind summer trips. Lol…

          • Shirlene says:

            Haha! i tend to take my trip abit more chill. I am so excited for my upcoming trip to Hike to the submit of Mt Fuji, and my annual ski trip to Hokkaido. Finally going to give Tomamu a try for the coming season. 🙂
            Thank God, we drove in snow in our USA days, and we were really impress with how well they maintain their expressway, given their crazy snowfall in Hokkaido.

            • bumblebeemum says:

              OMG, you’re going to hike up to Mount Fuji?? That’s really exciting indeed!! Come back and share with me more about it! I don’t know anyone who has actually hiked up Mt Fuji before. Most people I know only drive up as far as the 5th station. :p

  • Zoe says:

    Firstly, wana say thanks a lot!
    I read ur blogs over and over again cos there’s so many gd practical tips! Appreciate ur advices very much!

    I’m going hokkaido for 1st time this late June (last wk) to early July, 14 days..
    I don’t wana use coin laundry.. really need ur advice on what to bring.

    I’m quite cold-sensitive so I be wearing long pants, a tee & 1 jacket everyday..or can I jus wear a long sleeve shirt? Is the temperature gona be like that in a sg cinema?

    As for my hubby, real headache what to pack for him.. he’s more “normal”. He doesn’t get cold in shopping malls wearing a polo & khaki.. must I pack him Jeans?

    We be at sapporo, Asahikawa, Furano, Toyako, then hakodate, all 2 nights each, before going to tokyo for few days.

    As for tokyo.,should I stay 3 nights throughout at tokyo bay hotel even if I’m going Disneyland for only a day? Will it be very troublesome travelling to Shibuya or the more happening areas? Or should I shift to akasaka after Disneyland trip? I don’t like shifting around but not sure if there’s anything at tokyo bay to see.. I’ve been to tokyo few yrs back & i’m anti-shoppaholic..

    Thanks a lot in advance for ur kind

    • bumblebeemum says:

      The weather in Hokkaido is kind of erratic. It can get quite cold when it rains,but if it’s bright and sunny it can get pretty hot. The good thing is, you’ll be packing for Tokyo, so you can wear Tokyo clothes on hot days. I suggest you just wear normal Singapore clothes but bring a sweater / jacket that you can put on on cold days. As for pants, I usually wearing leggings with skirt / shorts, so if weather is hot I’ll skip the leggings and when it’s cold I’ll wear the leggings.

      For your husband, I think he can just wear his usual khakis throughout. Just bring a jacket to put on if it gets cold.

      If I’m going Disneyland for 1 day and central Tokyo for 2 days, I would stay in Central Tokyo for all 3 days. Buying I’m going Disneyland for 2 days and central Tokyo for 1 day, I would stay Tokyo Bay for all 3 days. I wouldn’t change hotel. Changing hotels in Tokyo is a pain.

  • Samantha says:


    Stumbled on your very detailed blog on Japan, while researching on Japan!

    My partner and I have booked a trip to Sapporo end of this year. We thought of doing a self-drive instead of taking the trains as we may want to explore a little more far out places. But unsure if it’s advisable to drive during this period? I read one of your entries that Tabirai car rental is affordable. Should we book beforehand?

    And also, since we only have 5 nights in Hokkaido, would you recommend that we just stay in Sapporo and drive out and back every day? We’ve not exactly planned which parts of Hokkaido we want to visit but probably the south area like Lake Toya, Otaru, Norboribetsu. Not sure if we have time to head up to visit Biei. Are there any other scenic places you can recommend?

    Hope to hear from you!

    • Queen Bee says:

      You should always book your rental car beforehand using an English website so that you can put in all your requests in English. Coz if you just walk in to a car rental office in Japan, the staff on duty then may not be well-versed in English. Unless you speak Japanese then no problem.. haha.. But still, I always reserve a rental car beforehand.

      Nono, I don’t recommend staying in Sapporo and driving out everyday in winter. Maybe only Otaru you can do as a day trip from Sapporo. 5 nights is too short to head to Biei. I suggest you keep it to Sapporo, Noboribetsu, Lake Toya and Otaru, that’s all you can do with 5 nights in winter.

      I suggest you rent a car from CTS, drive to Noboribetsu (stay 1 night), drive to Lake Toya (stay 1 night), then drive to Sapporo and return the car. Then from Sapporo, you can visit Otaru as a day trip using the train.

      • Samantha says:

        Thanks for replying!

        Yeah, figured that for 5 nights we can’t cover very much in Winter. Guess we’ll have to keep the other places for either spring or summer!

        So if we take the train in Sapporo and to Otaru, we can just use their normal rail pass right?

        • Queen Bee says:

          Yup, you can just buy normal train tickets when you are there for Sapporo and Otaru.

          • Samantha says:

            Awesome, thanks! Also, another thing…So I’m taking a connecting JAL flight from Singapore to Sapporo but we have a stopover at Haneda International Airport. However, the airline states that we’ll have to claim our luggages first and then head over to the Domestic Terminal and check in again. Is this normal?

            We’ll be arriving in Haneda Airport at 9.40am and the domestic flight to Sapporo is at 11.30am. I called JAL and they told me that we have sufficient time for the transfer as the estimated time for transfer is usually 90mins. We’re just afraid that it’ll be very rushed. Any advice or experience that you have??

            Sorry and one more thing, our flight from Sapporo to Tokyo is 8am. What time do the trains start usually? Or will we need to book a taxi to get to the airport?

            Apologies for all the questions! Thanks for all your help 🙂

            • Queen Bee says:

              Yes, that’s normal. For international to domestic transfer, you have to pick up your luggage from the luggage belt upon arrival at Haneda airport and follow signs for domestic transfer to drop your luggage off again.

              If you are arriving in Haneda and flying our from Haneda, 2 hours is sufficient time to make the transfer. Just head straight to the domestic transfer once you have collected your luggage, don’t go shopping and eating and you should be fine. You can go shopping and eating after you have safely dropped your luggage off and are just waiting around to board the domestic flight.

              I usually spend my last night at Air Terminal Hotel if I have an 8am flight out of CTS. I checked Hyperdia and the first train from Sapporo to CTS leaves Sapporo at about 6am, arriving at CTS at about 6.50am. You’re cutting it too close, so either book Air Terminal Hotel for your last night, or get a taxi.

              • Samantha says:

                Great, thanks a lot for your help! You really know all about Japan inside out haha. Looking forward to the trip in December. 🙂

  • SC says:

    Hi, thanks for the information in your blog.
    This is our itinerary.
    Take a train from Sapporo to Asahikawa Station.
    Pick a car from Asahikawa Station and drive to Furano.
    Stay 2 nights at Furano and explore Furano and Biei.
    Drive from Furano to Sounkyo Onsen, stay 1 night in Sounkyo Onsen.
    Drive from Sounkyo Onsen to Asahidake Onsen. Spend a day.
    Drive from Asahidake Onsen to Asahikawa Station. Drop the car.

    1) Would the above be doable?
    2) Is there toll from Furano to Sounkyo Onsen and from Sounkyo Onsen to Asahidake Onsen?

  • Ynn says:

    Hi Queen bee

    Where in Japan would you recommend in April if I were to bring along parents in 60s and 2 kids age 3.5 yo and 1 yo? Parents love sightseeing and we’ve been to Hokkaido self drive in June 2 years back.

    • Queen Bee says:

      April is not the best time for Hokkaido. Unless you are going in end April where there is a chance of seeing cherry blossoms – but that would coincide with Golden Week which is again, not a fantastic time to visit Japan.

      You can try visiting the Mount Fuji region. In late April, there is the shibazakura festival, so I think it’ll be a beautiful time to visit the region:

  • Nicole says:

    Hi Queen Bee,

    Thanks for sharing your Hokkaido trips. what is the Parking situation like in Hokkaido? is there a Parking fee at all the locations? and what about city drive? is the parking expensive? Do u know if car seat is required for children in the car?


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