Ask Sobetsu Q&A

FAQ about Sightseeing&Eating Out

Q1 When is the best season for “Sobetsu Park”?
Usually around mid to end of May, however, the plum blossoming varies each year.
Q2 When is the best season for visiting the sunflower fields?
Sunflowers in Sobetsu are blossoming 2 times a year, the first time between end of July to end of August (depending on the field), the second time between mid-October to mid-November. There are 3 areas for sunflower fields, each blossoming at a different time.
Ask at the Sobetsu Tourist Information for more details: 0142-66-2750
Q3 Where’s a good spot for viewing the colorful autumn leaves?
Autumn leaves can be best seen from the Usu Ropeway, from your car’s window while driving around Lake Toya, and from the Orofure Moutain Pass Observatory Deck.
Q4 When does the fruit picking season begin?
Around beginning of June, the fruit picking season starts with strawberries. However, the fruits’ ripening depends on the weather, so you should check back with Sobetsu Fruit Village to make sure you can pick fruit while you’re visiting the town: 0142-66-2333
Q5 Where is “Okutoya”?
Okutoya is not a place, it’s a brand of the local Chamber of Commerce to promote Sobetsu Onsen, Bankei Onsen, Kitayuzawa and Otaki’s Onsen (Onsen=Spa, Hot Springs). There are also certain products that are promoted by the same name, such as luxury black cattle meat called “Okutoya-Gyu”.
Q6 Are Sobetsu’s day spas real hot springs?
Yes, all day spas in Sobetsu are using pure natural spring water. For details on day spas, view here.
Q7 Are there spas with open air hot springs?
Yes, you can find open air hot springs within the spa facilities of “Sun Palace Resort&Spa” and “Bankei Onsen Yunotoya”.
Q8 Are there any places I can stay with my pet together?
Yes, you can request special stays with your pet at “Sun Palace Resort&Spa” and “Ikoi-So”.
Q9 What can I find in the Mount Showa-Shinzan area?
The area around the foot of Mount Showa-Shinzan offers many tourism attractions: Showa-Shinzan Bear Ranch, Showa-Shinzan Glass Museum, Mimatsu Masao Memorial Hall, and the Mount Usu Ropeway. (On top of Mount Usu, there is a walking trail around one of the Mount Usu craters.)
Q10 What do I find once I arrived on top of Mount Usu?
There is an observatory deck from where you can see Mount Showa-Shinzan and parts of Lake Toya. You can also take a stroll to the other side, a nice hiking trail that leads half way around the “Gin-Numa” crater. The trail is called “Minami-Gairinsan” and if you go up to the end of it, you will find another observatory deck from where you can see over the south part of Lake Toya, Mount Yotei in the distance and the Pacific Ocean.
Q11 Where’s a good place to view over Lake Toya?
There are a couple of locations you can experience a nice view over Lake Toya. For instance, from Sobetsu Park you will have a great view not only over the lake, but also Mount Showa-Shinzan and Mount Usu. If you want to be closer to the water, the view from Naka-Toya Campsite as well as from “Chikara-Iwa” Observatory Park is recommended.
Q12 Can I fish in Lake Toya?
You can only fish in certain areas and periods of the year. The period as well as areas are indicated at the following website (Japanese only): click here.
Q13 Is there a place where I can camp for free?
The area around Lake Toya belongs to the National Park, and wild camping is not allowed. We recommend the “Naka-Toya” Camp site, which is just next to Lake Toya. There is also a public bath (with a natural hot spring!) you can enjoy during your stay. If you stay in a tent, 1 person per night is 420 yen (children 320 yen); one night with a camper is 300 yen. Onsen fees are not included.
Q14 What’s the Geopark? Where is it and how much does the entry cost?
Geopark is a nature park that is registered with the Unesco Global Geoparks Network.
This area here is registered as Toya Caldera and Usu Volcano Geopark since 2009.
The Toya Caldera and Usu Volcano Unesco Global Geopark is a natural landscape in which to enjoy nature, learn about earth’s history, and experience first-hand the earth’s natural force. It has been the first registered geopark in Japan, and its vast natural heritage such as Toya Caldera, Mount Showa-Shinzan, Volcano Usu and the many geological sites being proof of ancient as well as recent eruptions, are the main attractions that make this geopark a special place to investigate further the environment’s historical heritage. The park can be understood as a museum where you can learn about our “ever-changing earth”: a variety of walking paths, and other attractions such as a hands-on learning with guided tours are also offered.
Toya Caldera and Usu Volcano Unesco Global Geopark Website: http://www.toya-usu-geopark.org/?pagename=english
Q15 I want to know about the available Geopark foot paths.
There are several routes you can choose from. For instance the Yosomi-yama Route or Mt. Konpira-yama Route are recommended.
For more details you can check the following page: http://www.toya-usu-geopark.org/?page_id=560
Q16 Where is the Sobetsu Local Museum?
The Sobetsu Local Museum is located within the “Yokozuna Kita-no-Umi” Memorial Hall. You can find documents and objects from the founding time of Sobetsu, and also a vast collection of Sobetsu’s infamous Sumo wrestler “Kita-no-Umi”.
More details are here: http://www.sumo-museum.net/
Q17 What is “Park Golf” and where can I find it?
Park Golf is a sort of mixture between golf and mini-golf, a sports that originates in Hokkaido. There is a nice park golf course available in Sobetsu, near the “Yuai-no-Ie” hot spring. There are two courses available, 9 holes and 18 holes. A day ticket is 300 yen, and for a small fee you can also rent out equipment.
Q18 Are there any playgrounds for children?
Yes, you can find a playground right next to “Sobetsu Johokan i”. There is also a playground next to the town hall, as well as a beautiful park called “Kaitaku Park” next to the landmark “Shimeien”.
Q19 Do you have any recommendations for eating out?
Yes, please visit our page for Eating Out: please click here.

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About Access

Q1 How far is Mount Showa-Shinzan?
It’s about 6km (10 minutes) from the Road station “Sobetsu Johokan i”.
Q2 Is the parking at Mount Showa-Shinzan free?
No, the Mount Showa-Shinzan area charges the following prices: bike 200 yen, car 500 yen, mini bus 1000 yen, passenger bus 2000 yen.
Q3 Where is the Mount Usu Ropeway located?
The ropeway is located in the Mount Showa-Shinzan area. Please go almost until the end of the street, and you will find the entrance to your right.
Please visit the following link for more information on the ropeway: http://wakasaresort.com/usuzan/en/
Q4 I’d like to hike up to Mount Usu. Is there a route you can recommend?
Yes, we recommend the Date route. Once you are driving on the national route No.37 through Date in direction of Hakodate, right in front of the “Usu Zenkoji Temple” there is a sign that leads to the route: 「有珠登山入り口」 (English: “Entrance to the Mount Usu Trail”).
Q5 I’d like to go to Sobetsu Park by bus. Where do I get off?
Please get off at the “Taki-no-Ue” stop. From there, it’s 15 minutes to walk.
Q6 How do I find the “Sobetsu Fruit Village”?
The Sobetsu Fruit Village is an area consisting of several fruit farmers, and it stretches along the national route No 453, mainly 1km from the Road station “Sobetsu Johokan i”” in direction of Otaki.
Q7 How do I go to the Fruit Village by bus?
Please get off at “No-kyo-Mae”, or at “Awa-Koku-Mae”. It is a short walk from there.
Q8 What’s the closest route to Sapporo?
We recommend the route 230 that leads through the Nakayama Mountain Pass. It’s about 110km, so around 2 hours’ drive.
Q9 What’s the best route to Noboribetsu?
We recommend the route over Orofure Mountain Pass. It’s about 40km, so around 50 minutes to drive (please be aware though, that throughout the winter months, this route is closed during the evenings starting from 5pm). Another route is Route 37 via Muroran, it’s 63km and takes around 1.5 hours.
Q10 About Orofure Mountain Pass in the winter months
Between November and April, the Orofure Mountain Pass route is closed during night time (5pm-9am).
Q11 How long does it take from Sobetsu to Chitose Airport taking the route via Lake Shikotsu?
Taking the route via Shikotsu is about 84km, so 1 hour 40 minutes. The route takes you from national route 453 in direction to Otaki to the route 276 in direction of Bifue Mountain Pass/Lake Shikotsu, via 453 to route 16.
Q12 Where’s the closes Highway Interchange?
The closest IC is “Toyako IC” and “Date IC”.

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About Events/Festivals

Q1 When is Sobetsu’s Apple Festival (“Sobetsu Ringo Matsuri”)?
Every year around the 1st week of October (on Sundays). However, it really depends on the ripening of the apples, so the schedule might change as well.
Please check back for details at the Sobetsu Tourist Association: 0142-66-2750
Q2 When is the Mount Showa-Shinzan International Yukigassen Snowball Championship held?
The championship is held every year mid-February. Please feel free to check it out!
Q3 When is the Local Produce Shop “Sams” Harvesting Festival?
The harvesting festival is held on the 3rd Sunday in October. Due to changes in climate the harvesting season may change, which causes the festival to be held earlier or later than expected.

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About Road station “Sobetsu Johokan i”

Q1 About opening and closing times of the road station:
– Summer Season (between 1st of April thru November 15th): 9:00-17:30
– Winter Season (between November 1st thru March 31st): 9:00-17:00
– Holidays are between December 31st and January 5th
Q2 Is it allowed to stay through the night on the parking lot?
The road station is a place where you can rest from driving. If you would like to stay overnight, we recommend the campsite in Sobetsu, called “Naka-Toya” Campsite. There you have also a public bath with a hot spring you can enjoy, and all other facilities you may need for a pleasant stay in Sobetsu.
Q3 Is there Wi-Fi available in the road station?
Yes, there is. Please look for the “道の駅Spot” in your Wi-Fi setting window and connect. It may occur that some devices are not able to connect to the spot. Please understand that we cannot assist you with setting up the connection, nor are we able to take any responsibilities for the usage of the network.
It is possible to use the network maximum 4 times a day for an hour each (4 hours in total).
Q4 Is there an ATM machine in the facility?
Unfortunately, there is no ATM in “Sobetsu Johokan i”. If you want to do international cashing, we recommend the Seven Eleven at Toyako Onsen Town (10 minutes’ drive from “Sobetsu Johokan i”).
Q5 Is it allowed to smoke in the facilities?
No, please use the designated area outside.
Q6 Are the toilet facilities at “Sobetsu Johokan i” 24 hours open?
Yes, you can use the toilet 24/7. Please be considerate in your usage and leave the bathroom as you would like to find it.
Q7 Can you tell me where I can throw away my garbage?
If you bought something in the Local Produce Shop, you may dispose the waste in the shop. For all other garbage, please use the “Eco-Station” system, you pay a small donation fee for disposing your garbage (please ask for details at the Tourist Information Counter).
Q8 Is there a possibility to charge EV?
Yes, there is an EV charger available in the parking lot of the road station.
Q9 Can my pet come inside the shop?
No, unfortunately pets are not allowed. Only seeing-eye dogs are allowed in the facilities with their respective owner.
Q10 Is there a super market in Sobetsu?
Yes, there is the “Petit A Coop”, it’s a small super market located on the main route through Sobetsu, near “Sobetsu Johokan i”.