Learning about Life Made of Volcanoes Summer Walking and Cycling Trip
Japan has been living with many volcanoes. Even today, many volcanoes are still active, and it is said that as much as 7% of the world’s active volcanoes are concentrated in Japan. (*As of January 2022) This time, I would like to introduce you to a trip around the active volcano “Mount Usu (有珠山, Usuzan)” in Hokkaido, where you can enjoy delicious food, wonderful hot springs, beautiful scenery, and learn about the gifts of volcanoes while thinking about the earth that is our home.
The History of Hokkaido as Learned at the Beginning of the Journey
This trip will begin with learning about the history of the "Ainu", the indigenous people of Hokkaido. Our first stop will be the "Upopoi National Ainu Museum" in Shiraoi Town, about two hours away from the city of Sapporo in Hokkaido. The word "Upopoi" is derived from the Ainu word meaning "to sing in large numbers. In this museum, visitors can learn how to live in harmony with nature through Ainu culture. Nature is an important source of inspiration for the Ainu language, beliefs, and lifestyle that are deeply rooted in the culture of Hokkaido.
After learning about the history of Hokkaido at Upopoi, we will head to Lake Toya. Lake Toya is part of a national park, and in addition to the lake, the Toya region is also home to the famous active volcano, Mount Usu. This area offers many outdoor activities such as fishing, hiking, and camping. This time, we will take a short walk along the lake to the hotel, taking in the panoramic view of the Usu area and the history of Lake Toya. The hotel faces Lake Toya, and across the lake you can see Mt. Yotei, known as Hokkaido's Mount Fuji (富士山, Fujisan). Toyako Onsen area is known for its several hot springs thanks to the volcano, so it is a great place to refresh yourself after a busy day.
Life in the past and present connected by volcanoes.
Volcanoes are the major theme of this trip, and we will explore this theme in depth on the second and third days. The volcano we are visiting, Mount Usu, is an active volcano that explodes in cycles of several decades, with the most recent eruption in 2000. The explosion created many new craters and destroyed nearby buildings and roads, but miraculously there were no casualties. On this trip, we will step into a limited area with a volcano meister to see the scars of volcanic activity.
First, we will enjoy a unique walking trail around the crater. During the three-hour walk, we will follow the scars of the volcanic disaster that are still vividly visible in the area, allowing us to see how close Mount Usu is to people's lives and how closely it still relates to them.
We will then head to Funka Bay (噴火湾, Funka-wan) , which features dynamic scenery created by landslides from past volcanic activity. Here, we will visit the towns of Toyoura, where we will learn about salmon fishing from local guides who have a wealth of knowledge about nature. Thanks to the volcano and the rich nature, you can see many salmon swimming in the water in autumn.
A rural town in Hokkaido coexisting with nature.
At the midpoint of the trip, we move on to our town "Kuromatsunai-cho（黒松内町 Kuromatsunai Town）".Kuromatsunai is a biogeographically unique and nationally valuable region. There are many beech trees left in the town, and the Utasai beech forest, which represents the northern limit of beech forests, is designated as a national important cultural property. In Kuromatsunai, the forest is always in the background, naturally intertwined with local life.
In Kuromatsunai Town, you can explore this beautiful town by hiking, cycling, and canoeing. Kuromatsunai Town is an eco-friendly town that attracts people from outside the city. Not only will you enjoy the scenery, but you will also have an unforgettable time interacting with the many people who live in Kuromatsunai Town.
Experiencing a river where the cycle of life is born.
After enjoying the town of Kuromatsunai, we will go down the Shubuto River by canoe. The Shubuto River（朱太川 Shubuto gawa） has few obstacles, and river fish that like clear water can swim close to the headwaters. As an example, many river fish that only live in clean rivers, such as ayu (鮎 sweetfish) and sakura trout (サクラマス Cherry salmon), live here. This is strongly influenced by the vast and diverse natural environment surrounded by beech forests. By spending time with the locals, you will get to know how they protect their fish and live in harmony with this beautiful nature of Kuromatsunai Town.
The last stop on our canoe trip down the river is the port town of Suttsu. The Shubuto River flows through the town of Kuroshunai, bringing nutrients from the beech forest to the sea. The Shubuto River flows through Kuromatsunai Town, bringing nutrients from the beech forest to the sea, which in turn natures a diverse ecosystem in the sea of Suttu Town（寿都町 Suttu-cho）. The trip will end with a last taste of seafood such as oysters and scallops, which symbolize the richness of the sea
In this trip, we have introduced various contents focusing on the field of "volcanoes". Volcanoes are frightening to many creatures, but they also provide us with many wonderful blessings. On our website, we have introduced a number of travel styles for spending time in Hokkaido, especially in the town of Kuromatsunai. Please take a look at our other TRIP STYLEs! We hope this will give you some ideas for planning your trip to Hokkaido.