Wenn man den Tages-hike auf den Tokachidake 十勝岳 oder den Biei-dake 美瑛岳 macht dann kommt man von der Stadt Biei 美瑛市 auf dem Weg zum Aussichtspunkt auf den Tokachi-dake/Biei-dake 望岳台 am Blauen Teich von Biei (Engl. Biei Blue Pond, jp. 美瑛青い池) vorbei. Der Teich ist auch als Blauer Teich von Shirogane (Engl. Shirogane Blue Pond, jp. 白金青い池) bekannt, nach dem Heisse-Quellen-Ort mit gleichem Namen in der Umgebung (Shirogane Onsen, 白金温泉). Und tatsaechlich liegt eines der Geheimnisse der Farbe des Teiches direkt in dem kleinen Onsen Ort. Mitten in Shirogane-onsen befindet sich der Shirahige (dt. weisser Bart) Wasserfall (白ひげの滝). An diesem Punkt fliesst das Wasser vom Tokachi-dake in den Biei Fluss 美瑛川 und nimmt dabei Aluminium auf, worauf sich die Farbe Cobalt Blue faerbt. Das blaue Wasser fliesst weiter flussabwaerts und sammelt sich im Blauen Teich, dessen Boden mit weissen Steinen besetzt ist, was die Farbe weiterhin unterstreicht und in Sonnenlicht sehr sichtbar ist.
Dabei ist der Blaue Teich von Biei kein natuerlicher Teich, sondern ist entstanden durch Vorsorgearbeiten am nahegelegenen Damm nach dem Ausbruch des Tokachi-dake im Jahr 1988, wodurch mehrere Teiche enstanden sind, inklusive dem Blauen Teich. Dieser wurde auch lange nicht entdeckt aber nachdem Bilder von dem Blau in Sozialen Medien aufgetaucht sind, hat sich der Teich in den letzten Jahren zu einem Touristenmagnet entwickelt.
Wer sich generell ueber Vulkane interessiert und speziell den Tokachi-dake und die Ausbrueche ende der 80er Jahre, dem sei dieses research paper empfohlen, wo auch schematisch die Lavafluesse als auch die Schlammfluesse dargestellt sind, welche bis nach Shirogane Onsen reichten.
Eintritt kostet der Teich nicht, aber wenn man mit dem Auto anreist, dann kostet der Parkplatz direkt vor dem Teich 500 Yen.
As with many mountains in Japan, there can be more than one way to call it. Mt. Mashu, or Mashu-dake 摩周岳, is also called Kamui-nupuri カムイヌプリ, which means “mountain of the gods” in Ainu, the language of the ingenious people of Hokkaido. The mountain is situated on the edge of Lake Mashu 摩周湖., a lake with beautifully blue water, which is also worth a visit, even without the goal of climbing Mashu-dake. While the whole lake was created within a large volcanic crater, Mashu-dake is basically a smaller sub-crater, not filled with water, but not less impressive.
The most popular trailhead start at he first viewing platform for Lake Mashu and the Mashu-dake. It is easily reachable by car and there is also a bus station. When arriving by car, parking costs 500yen. If you arrive early morning, there is a chance that no-one will be present at the gates, but in this case, they will put a note behind the windshield wipers for you to report back to the parking lot office once you come back from the hike. If you need to rely on public transportation, there is a bus from Mashu Station 摩周駅 that goes to the first observation deck, but the times and frequencies are quite rare. Here is the schedule.
Once you enter the trailhead which begins right at the end of the viewpoint area, the majority of the trail will be rather easy and relaxing. There is not much elevation gain until the very last 400m or so. The reason for this is that you first need to walk a while around the lake to the Mashu-dake. But the trail leads you through enchanting forests and wide fields with views on both the Lake Mashu and the surrounding mountains such as Nishibetsu-dake 西別岳. About halfway through, there is another viewing platform with great views on Lake Mashu and Mashu-dake. Head further straight until you reach another junction. From here, you can take the left side right up to the summit of Mashu-dake, or take the right side to further hike to Nishibetsu-dake, which is only 2.5km away. The majority of the elevation gain happens during the last 400m of the hike, but with a total elevation gain of about 400m, this is not a difficult hike.
Shari-dake is a mid-sized mountain in Eastern Hokkaido, not far from the village with the same name. The mountain is one of the 100 famous mountains of Japan and therefore attracts many climbers throughout the year.
The trailhead is located at the Seigaku-so 清岳荘 hut, which also has a parking place. As always in Japan, I would recommend being early, as parking places are getting crowded very fast. You will be asked by a sign to pay 100yen at a small box right at the trailhead for as parking fee. After this, head onto the trail and after a short passage downwards, you will walk along a forest road until the path goes back into the forest to the left side.
From here, you will basically follow the flow of the river uphill. The river has to be crossed multiple times and it can be a little bit wet. It gradually becomes more steep and after a while, you will arrive at a junction where you have two options, follow the the old route to the left, or take the new route to the right.
It is noteworthy that the old route is quite steep and continues along the water, so it is extremely slippery at times. The new route is taking quite a detour but is significant less dangerous. I would say that if you are a seasoned mountaineer, ascending via the old route should be doable, but I would definitely recommend descending via the new route, as it does lead away from the waterfalls and is therefore less slippery. My guess is that the new route has been established to ease the descent, as there might have been a number of accidents on the old route with these conditions.
After the waterfall passage (which is undeniably the most difficult part of this hike), you will at some point arrive at a plain and shortly after that, you will see the junction that brings the old route and the new route back together. From there, just head straight and climb up to a small plateau with moderate views. From here you can already see the summit to the left. Follow the signs to the left and there will be a short rocky section until you arrive at the Shari-dake Shrine 斜里岳神社, which is a really small shrine just below the summit. From there, follow the path and you reach the summit in about 5 minutes.
The views from Shari-dake are breathtaking. With good weather, the mountain provides 360 degree views of the surroundings, including Shari village, the Sea of Ohotsk, the Shiretoko Peninsula, Abashiri, etc. To the other side, you can also see the silhouettes of the mountains in the Daisetsu-san National Park.
When descending, follow the path down where you came from until you reach the junction where the old and the new route merged again. This time, take the new route to the left towards Kumami-toge (bear view pass). This route will lead over the ridgeline to Kumami-toge and then descends down back to where the waterfalls where.
Speaking of bears. While there are certainly bears in Hokkaido (the native bear is the brown bear ヒグマ, the possibility to actually see one is extremely low. On the Kumami-toge, we met an older Gentlemen who lives in the area of 77 years who told us that on this day (September 21, 2020) this would be his exact 900st attempt to the summit of Shari-dake. That is quite an accomplishment, and he wanted to continue until he reaches 1000 summits of Shari-dake. The stunning part however was that in all these 900 summits, he has never seen a single bear (!).