Sounkyo, in the Kamikawa district, is part of the northern area of Daisetsuzan National Park. Like a lot of places in Hokkaido, Sounkyo is a remote area that is best accessed by car and, during peak season, filled with more tourists than locals. Sounkyo is famous for Sounkyo Gorge, which the town is situated in, but there are also some very nice waterfalls and beautiful mountain scenery. Daisetsuko is also not too far away. Sounkyo is about 65km from Asahikawa and 240km from Kushiro. As you would expect from a national park, it is not the liveliest place to visit, but the beautiful views of Sounkyo more than make up for it!
I was lucky enough to visit Sounkyo twice, first in the Summer and then more recently with a group of photographers during Autumn. For this past trip, our timing was perfect for the leaves changing colors as the gorge and mountain ranges were filled with yellows, oranges and reds.
If you head over to Sounkyo's Tourist Association site, you can find some of the more popular spots to see, and from those places, you can explore more on your own. No matter where you visit in Japan, I highly recommend renting a personal Wi-Fi hotspot, especially for places like Sounkyo. I was using an LTE hotspot from WIFI-HIRE.COM and it was very helpful for planning our photographic locations and our daily schedule. While we were on location taking photographs, this constant connection allowed me to keep an eye on the weather and optimise my schedule for taking photos in good conditions. For example, we were at Daisetsuko taking photos and was able to see that rain was on the radar, so we went up Sounkyo Ropeway to try and get above it, which worked out perfectly. It was also very nice to be able to search for possible photographic spots in Sounkyo and then show photos from the internet to the group to get their opinion.
We stayed in Sounkyo for two nights and spent most of the mornings and afternoons taking photos around the area including Oobako, Ginga no Taki and the general gorge area. We also went up the Sounkyo Ropeway to get a spectacular view of the Sounkyo Gorge area. Next time I go back, I really want to explore more of the river that runs along side Route 39 as there were some really wonderful views I noticed when leaving, but we just didn't have time this trip.
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