- February 16th, 2015
[Sounkyo Ice Waterfall Festival in Kamikawa] Ice Sculptures Are Beautiful Like Avant-Garde Art
Sounkyo Ice Waterfall Festival
Sounkyo Ice Waterfall Festival (層雲峡氷瀑まつり) is a snow event held in Sounkyo Onsen, Kamikawa Town located in the eastern direction of Asahikawa city, and has been held since 1976. It is held from late January to late March every year, and is well-known as a specialty winter event. Ice sculptures, a resting place, a food stall, a public restroom, North Ice Pub (北の氷酒場) and Hyoto Shrine (氷瀑神社) are in a venue. The venue is from 10 to 20 degrees below zero, and it is very cold, so you had better wear a warm outfit. A assistance fund is JPY 500. A parking lot is free of charge, and visitors can park their cars at the Sounkyo Onsen Public Parking Lot.
Sounkyo Onsen (層雲峡温泉) is a hot-spring resort in Kamikawa town located in the southeastern direction of Asahikawa city, and is one of the 5 major hot spring resorts in Hokkaido together with Jozankei Onsen (定山渓温泉), Yunokawa Onsen (湯の川温泉), Toyako Onsen (洞爺湖温泉) and Noboribetsu Onsen (登別温泉), and is a base for sightseeing of the Daisetsuzan National Park (大雪山国立公園) that about 2 million tourists come every year. There is a trailhead to Mt. Kurodake (黒岳), and a lot of mountain climbers as well as bathers for medical purposes come. The hot-spring resort is based on a concept of harmony with the natural environment, and almost building design is unified in western-style townscape named “Canyon Mall (キャニオンモール)”. There are 15 accommodations, a hot spring facility, a footbath, restaurants, souvenir shops, convenience stores and Kurodake Ropeway (黒岳ロープウェー), and tourists can climb to highland at 1520 m above sea level by the ropeway. By the way, 7-Eleven in Sounkyo is well-known for being owned by Ms. Sara Takanashi (高梨沙羅 * famous Ski jumper)’s parents. Read More
About 150,000 tourists come, and the Sounkyo Ice Waterfall Festival is also highly rated overseas these days, and art of ice gathers attention. National Geographic introduces it as one of Best Winter Trips 2018, and bloggers from every country in the world post articles about it. After all, I think that avant-garde shaped ice sculptures and ice sculptures lit up in the night may have a good reputation. The Sounkyo Ice Waterfall Festival is held in a riverbed of Ishikari River nearby Sounkyo Onsen Resort, and restaurants, cafes and convenience stores are built in the resort. In addition, Ryusei Falls (流星の滝), Ginga Falls (銀河の滝) and Obako (大函) are near here, too.
Ryusei Falls and Ginga Falls
Ryusei Falls (流星の滝) and Ginga Falls (銀河の滝) are famous waterfalls that rivers drop from columnar jointing of sheer cliffs into Ishikari River in Sounkyo (層雲峡), Kamikawa, and it is said that those are the most beautiful falls in this area. A pair of the 2 falls is one of 100 Best Waterfalls in japan. A parking lot that the Ryusei Falls or the Ginga Falls can be seen is near Daisetsu National Route (National Route 39), and Sokodai Lookout (双瀑台), a souvenir shop, a public restroom and the parking lot are on the site. Admission free. The parking lot is free of charge. In addition, Obako (大函) is near here, too. Read More
Obako (大函) is a scenic spot with a beautiful conbination of a river and sheer cliffs in Sounkyo (層雲峡), Kamikawa town. Beautiful columnar jointing was born by an explosive eruption of Ohachidaira (御鉢平) around 30,000 years ago. Ishikari River (石狩川) has eroded the rocks over a long period of time, and the Oobako turns into the current shape. A famous scenic spot called Kobako (小函) is near here, too. But it is currently prohibited to enter the Kobako in danger of collapse. A observation deck, a public restroom and a parking lot are on the site. Admission free. The parking lot is free of charge. But the restroom is broken. The Obako is about 6 km away from Sounkyo Onsen Resort, and restaurants, cafes and convenience stores are built there. In addition, Ryusei Falls (流星の滝) and Ginga Falls (銀河の滝) are near here, too. Read More
By the way, it is unusual for a large onsen resort to have 3 parking lots for free, and 200 cars can park there. In addition, Limited Express Sekihoku-go (特急石北号), a express bus, runs between Kitami and Asahikawa, and North Liner (ノースライナー号), an express bus, runs via Mikuni Pass between Obihiro and the Asahikawa, and Sunrise Asahikawa-Kushiro-go (サンライズ旭川・釧路号), an express bus, runs between Kushiro and the Asahikawa, and those express buses stop the Sounkyo Onsen. Unfortunately, nonstop buses do not run from New Chitose Airport, Sapporo, the Asahiakwa and Asahikawa Airport to the Sounkyo Onsen. * The nonstop buses for hotel guests are provided by some hotels.
Daisetsuzan National Park
Daisetsuzan National Park (大雪山国立公園) in the center of Hokkaido is the largest national park in Japan, the size of 226,764 ha, and has been designed as the national park since 1934, and is the oldest national park in the Hokkaido along with Akan Mashu National Park (阿寒摩周国立公園). A mountain named Daisetsuzan does not exist, and the whole area including the mountains with over 2,000 m above sea level such as Mt. Asahidake (旭岳), the highest mountain in Hokkaido, Mt. Kurodake (黒岳), Mt. Aibestudake (愛別岳), Mt. Tomuraushi (トムラウシ山) is collectively called “Daisetsuzan”, and those are called “A roof of the Hokkaido” ,too. Rare nature such as active volcanoes, Lare Columnar joints, a sea of trees and permafrost even in the Hokkaido can be seen. About 250 types of alpine plants grow naturally, and various forms of life such as brown bear, blakiston’s fish owl, dolly varden and pine grosbeak inhabit here. By the way, A right notation is “Daisetsuzan”, but local people often call “Taisetsuzan”. Read More
Winter Festivals in Hokkaido
Snow often begins to fall around Christmas season, and Hokkaido is covered with the snow until late March that snow begins to melt, the ground turns into the white world in a winter. The snow falls in silence, and the temperature falls, too, and its peak is February, and various winter events that snow, ice and coldness can be enjoyed are held all over Hokkaido around the February. Read More
Venue of Sounkyo Ice Waterfall Festival
In the riverbank of the Ishikari River, the area is about 10,000 m2, about 30 large and small ice sculptures are produced. The Ishikari River flows in the center of the venue, and it looks like a Japanese-style garden. The height of the large ice sculpture is about 15 m. Those ice sculptures reflect an image of ice castle and a ice dragon tiger tower in Taiwan when I visited here in 2015. Water of the Ishikari River are sprayed to create the ice sculptures in below zero 2 months ago. An intense cold certificate (極寒証明書) is issued near the entrance, too. Ice Slide and Ice Climbing can be gone through for charge, too. It takes from 1 hour to 2 hours to go a round trip.
After the visitors enter the entrance, ice igloos and the ice sculptures with plates of supporting companies welcome the visitors. As for the the ice sculptures, only the appearance can be enjoyed, but the ice igloos have a entrance, and the visitors can go in and out freely. Ice art objects are displayed at each ice igloos, and coins are attached to those. Its patterns are very interesting.
The North Ice Pub opens a business on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays. Sake made by Takasago Sake Brewery (高砂酒造) and Kamikawa Taisetsu Sake Brewery (上川大雪酒造) can be enjoyed, and a cup of sake lees cocoa, a cup of coffee and a cup of hot milk are sold. At the Hyoto Shrine, a shintaian object of worship is set, and it is said that it brings you good luck if a coin is attached to it.
The Ice Castle has a lookout, and the visitors can go in and out freely. It is very large, and is very impressed by ice. The inside has some rooms surrounded by ice walls and the ice ceiling. A throne chair is provided, too, and the visitors can feel like royalty. But it is made of ice, so I think that the visitors are hardly to keep sitting on the chair because of cold, and will give up the throne.
A featured ice sculpture this year is Ice Dragon Tiger Tower (龍虎塔), a famous tourist attraction in Southern Taiwan. It brings you good luck if you go in a mouth of the dragon, and go out a mouth of the tiger. The inside has a lot of icicles as pillars and the ceiling.
The ice sculptures are illuminated by colorful lights, and those look very beautiful in the evening. Fireworks are set off every day during the period. I really wanted to take a picture in the night, but I was not able to photograph it. But, Makan Angin reporting about travel in Indonesia provided his photos and I can show you about the state. Thanks, George!
Sounkyo Ice Waterfall Festival Can Be Watched on Youtube
|Admission fee||A assistance fund is JPY 500|
|Parking lot||A free parking is provided (200 cars)|
|Regular closing day||From late March to late January|
|Home page||Home page is here|
|Mapcode||623 234 014*13|
List of Accommodations
Refer to following websites for the accommodations in the Sounkyo Onsen. You can get information regarding online reviews and photos.
A page of Daisetsuzan National Park is here
Daisetsuzan National Park
By the way, Club Tourism (クラブツーリズム), a Japanese tour travel agency, provides various types of tours such as day trip tours or ordinary tours. In the case of bus tours, tourists do not drive their cars themselves, so they can savor alcohol. Choosen tourist attractions are national parks such as Rishiri and Rebun, Shiretoko, and popular tourist places such as Furano and Biei, and some activities such as hiking and fruit picking are also enjoyed depending on seasons. If you are interested in tour trips, you should visit the club tourism's website for details.
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Japanese Travel Agency
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