(Sept 14) The Sounkyo hot springs resort is a very small community nestled among the spectacular scenery of the Daisetsuzan National Park.
A public footbath for washing one’s feet in the hot spring water.
And a handbath next to it.
Unlike the equivalents at Akanko, the water is hot enough to sting.
A “ropeway” (the Japanese term for a gondola lift or cable car) runs up the side of Mt. Kurodake, bringing you to “Stage 5” (1,300 m.)
Wildflowers at Stage 5.
From there you can take a chair lift up to Stage 7 (1,520 m.)
This is a long, slow, peaceful ride, much more relaxing than the crowded and relatively fast-moving ropeway.
From Stage 7 you can follow a very steep, rocky and muddy 1.5 km trail to the top.
At the top (1,984 m) there is a small shrine to the kami of the mountain.
People throw coins in, perhaps to express their gratitude at having made it up there.
After that it is time to relax, enjoy the view of the rest of the Daisetsuzan mountain range, and get your breath back for the climb down.
Another trail runs down the other side of the mountain. It doesn’t look nearly as steep, but it is much, much longer, running over Mt. Asahi to the Asahidake ropeway.