Haidee’s sister Kylee was in Tokyo on business. Friday last week was a public holiday. Which is all to say the prerequisites for a quick long-weekend jaunt up to Sapporo were lined up for Kylee.
Haidee and I decided to make it count for her.
The mission was to try to showcase Sapporo’s awesome winter. One strategy we came up with was to book a night in a yurt at the awesome Jozankei Nature Park. We had heard rumors that winter was an epic time to visit Jozankei Nature Park, so we made the plunge. The risk paid off well, with the help of an amazing spring snowfall while we were there.
Getting to Jozankei Nature Park is fairly straight forward. Take the Nanboku Subway Line all the way to the final station, Makomanai Subway Station. From there, catch a bus to Hoheikyo Onsen (hot springs). If you time it right, you can catch a free bus all the way to Hoheikyo Onsen. The free bus leaves Makomanai Subway Station at 10am each day, and takes 45 minutes (http://www.hoheikyo.co.jp/en/access/index_e.html). The bus leaves about 100m down the road from the station (42.990827,141.356258).
Jozankei Nature Park costs 170yen for entry for day visitors. This time, we opted to stay overnight in one of their awesome yurts (or, ‘tent-house’ as they call them). These amazing 7-person yurts cost only 3,900yen a night, and this includes very basic foam mats, wool blankets, and a kerosene stove which does a great job at warming the space up. We were staying in the Okuma yurt (all the yurts have names) (42.931198,141.150554).
So a warm sleeping bag is recommended.
There was a good fresh layer of snow, helped along by a solid dumping while we wandered. The nature park has a marked snowshoe route, which takes about 30 minutes to walk around, starting from behind the admin building (42.932115,141.152874).
Alex and Abby headed off half way through the day to catch a 3:30pm bus from Hoheikyo Onsen back to Makomanai Station. After a quick break, Haidee, Kylee and I headed back out into the forest in search of powder snow.
It was easy to find (42.929405,141.156087).
Venturing even further up the gully (42.925843,141.151485), we soon became wary of avalanche danger. We erred on the side of caution and turned around back to the park.
All the while I was struck by how perfect a location this was for getting a taste for the great outdoors in winter in Hokkaido. With the nature park village only a few minutes walk away, people can safely experience this environment in relative comfort.