Daisetsuzan Shirakabaso Youth Hostel is located at the foot of Mount Asahidake, Hokkaido’s highest mountain at 2291 meters. It is part of Asahidake Onsen, a small resort village consisting of a handful of hot spring hotels. Due to its location only a 10-minute walk from Asahidake Ropeway station, the hostel makes for an ideal base to explore Daisetsuzan National Park, Hokkaido’s largest national park.
The hostel itself features both dormitory and private rooms (Western and Japanese style), plus an adjacent log cabin for groups. Rooms are spacious and clean, as are the beautiful common areas and there are basic, but well-maintained bathroom facilities. Being located in a hot springs area, Daisetsuzan Shirakabaso boasts its own onsen, including a small but picturesque outdoor bath. During afternoon hours, the onsen is open to outside guests. Laundry facilities are available, and Wi-Fi can be used free of charge throughout the property.
Asahidake Onsen is accessible by public transportation from Asahikawa, with a bus running three times a day directly from and to Asahikawa Station (¥1430 one way in summer 2016).
Apart from the ropeway station, there are no shops or convenience stores in Asahidake Onsen. Both the ropeway station and the hostel’s small kiosk provide hikers with the chance to stock up on basic foods like cup noodles, chocolate bars and crackers, with the ropeway station also offering the usual regional omiyage. Vending machines are, of course, a given. As there are no public restaurants in the village, Daisetsuzan Shirakabaso has an attractive dinner and breakfast plan. Catering for vegetarians (slightly limited options) is possible with prior notice. Homemade onigiri (rice balls) can be pre-ordered for take-out on longer hikes.
Halfway up the road to the ropeway station, Asahidake Visitor Center (open 9am–5pm) has hiking maps and is worth a visit to bring yourself up to date on weather conditions and brown bear sightings in the area.
With dormitory room rates starting at ¥5870 in summer 2016 (no meals included), a stay at beautiful and inviting Daisetsuzan Shirakabaso is slightly more expensive compared to other hostels in Japan. Frequented by guests of all ages, it is still the most economical choice for exploring one of Japan’s most unspoiled outdoor paradises.