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.
‘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.
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 Code (what is this?): 623 459 391
- 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)
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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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